By Jenelyn Russo     12/31/2014

Balancing sports, academics, leadership and service may sound like a tall order for a high school athlete. But for Servite High School senior Jeff Toomey, it’s all just a part of who he is.

The varsity basketball player grew up playing backyard pickup games with his father, brother and sister. At 10, he joined a local youth league and has been playing hoops ever since.

Smaller in stature but big in tenacity, Toomey plays point guard and shooting guard, positions he likes for their leadership aspects.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

“I like those positions because [they control] the game,” says Toomey. “I set the pace. I like to be in control, leading my team.”

In addition to leading his team on the court, the 18-year-old Toomey is a visible leader on campus, holding the Prior General position, Servite’s equivalent to student body president.

As a freshman, Toomey and several of his classmates started Friars for Care, a service organization at Servite chaired by Toomey that raises money and donations to assist families affected by pediatric cancer at City of Hope National Medical Center.

And if that doesn’t seem like enough of a full schedule, Toomey also volunteers with Yorba Linda Basketball (YLB) Challenger Division, a youth league designed specifically for players with special needs.

“It was a really special experience,” says the Yorba Linda resident. “Every time I’d see them make [a basket], they’d get the biggest smile on their faces. It just really put everything in perspective.”

With goals for this season that include continual improved play and a CIF championship, the Friars’ varsity basketball head coach John Morris feels that Toomey contributes both as a player and a leader.

“Jeff leads his teammates both on and off the court, showing that it’s possible to balance academics, athletics and extracurricular activities,” says Morris. “He exemplifies the faith-filled leader that we try to develop at Servite.”

In his final year representing the Friars, Toomey says he will cherish the brotherhood found at Servite, and as he looks ahead, his college destination will most likely take him east. He’s considering schools such as Notre Dame and Boston College as a first step before pursuing a degree in law.

Wherever Toomey lands, he hopes to continue to play club basketball and serve on his campus. But his bigger hopes lie in maintaining humility through service, a character quality modeled by his grandfather. The former Marine colonel and superior court judge’s path from working in the fields in Garden Grove to the court bench has left an indelible mark on Toomey.

“His humility through his success shows that money isn’t the only thing, it’s the relationships that he’s created over the years,” says Toomey of his grandfather. “That really speaks volumes to me.”