La Deaux's versatility rare in an age of specialization

In addition  to football, SK senior-to-be Leon La Deaux competes in track and basketball — and he
In addition to football, SK senior-to-be Leon La Deaux competes in track and basketball — and he'd try other sports if he could.
— image credit: File photo

Previous Port Orchard Independent Male Athletes of the Year

2008: Matt Foxworthy

2007: Renard Williams

2006: Brent Chriswell, Josiah Kipperberg

2005: Brent Chriswell

2004: Pat Kelly

If rules weren’t an issue, South Kitsap junior Leon La Deaux jokes that he would be a five-sport athlete.

Instead, La Deaux is limited to three — football, basketball and track — per Washington Interscholastic Activities Association regulations.

Besides being a rare three-sport athlete, La Deaux has experienced success in each activity. For those reasons, he is the Port Orchard Independent’s Male Athlete of the Year.

Despite a busy schedule, football coach D.J. Sigurdson said La Deaux has never asked him for a break along the way.

“He has a lot of ability and a good work ethic to go with it,” he said. “He represents himself and his family well. He never makes excuses or skips a rep.”

For the 6-foot-3 La Deaux, it all begins in fall as a starting wide receiver. Throughout its storied history, the Wolves have sent many running backs and offensive linemen to college programs. Wide receivers generally haven’t garnered as much attention the last 35 seasons under run-heavy coaches Ed Fisher and Sigurdson.

“When I leave here, I want to be considered the best receiver to play at the school,” said La Deaux, adding that former South and Central Washington University wide receiver Dustin Booth tutors him. “But our ultimate goal is to win state. We have the potential to be a deep, competitive team this year.”

La Deaux, who led South in receiving yards (415), receptions (26) and touchdowns (five) in 2008, hopes to change the prospects for wide receivers at South. Per Sigurdson’s advice, he’s spending this summer camping at several northwest universities, including Eastern Washington, Idaho, Washington and Washington State.

“I really want to get some scholarship offers this summer,” La Deaux said. “I don’t want to look back and have any regrets.”

One aspect Sigurdson believes will help La Deaux are his academics. The NCAA tracks academic progress rates for collegiate athletes and some schools are taking less risks with poor students to avoid possible sanctions. La Deaux has a 3.6 grade-point average and said he scored 1,450 on the SAT.

“It’s an attribute that schools will look at,” Sigurdson said. “They’re going to look at that as a good characteristic.”

Basketball wasn’t quite as rewarding. La Deaux shot just 38.7 percent from the field and averaged 5.7 points per game as sophomore Tre Haslom earned more playing time at small forward as the season progressed.

La Deaux believes he regressed from his sophomore season, when he averaged 8.4 points per game.

“I realized that I hit burnout midway through the basketball season,” he said. “This offseason I’m working really hard in basketball because I want to go back to how it was.”

Haslom has moved out of the area, but La Deaux isn’t excited that might mean more playing time for him. The Wolves have been successful under coach John Callaghan — they placed between second and sixth at state from 2003-06 — but La Deaux hasn’t played a state tournament game inside the Tacoma Dome.

“I remember watching South growing up with all those great teams,” said La Deaux. “It’s frustrating. I pick up the paper and see that I’ve been on two of the worst teams (of Callaghan’s 11-year tenure) here.”

La Deaux, who moved to Port Orchard from Bournemouth, England, when he was in elementary school, played baseball and soccer as a youth. He said it was a difficult decision to forego both on the sports at South to focus on track.

It wasn’t easy at first as La Deaux was relegated to the junior-varsity level for the first time since seventh grade in some events.

“I wasn’t even allowed to jump hurdles with the rest of the team because I was so bad and goofy looking at it,” he said. “They just gave me one hurdle and said, ‘Try and get over it without hurting yourself.’ ”

La Deaux said he was grateful for the encouragement he received from some veteran teammates and coaches. He believes his improvement this year stemmed from being more receptive to instruction from coaches along with senior Jon Phillips, who plans to run next year at Everett Community College.

La Deaux had the highest placement among the Wolves in points events at state with a third-place finish in the 300-meter hurdles. He finished that event in 39.04 seconds, behind Kelso’s Adam Scalesse (38.46) and Stanwood’s Robert Hanke (38.57).

When La Deaux isn’t playing sports outdoors, he might be conducting an interview for WTV, the school’s television station. La Deaux serves as the sports anchor, and wants to pursue a communications degree in college.

“I just want to work on ‘SportsCenter’ and wear nice suits,” he said. “I want to be in front of the camera for the rest of my life.”

La Deaux shared the story of South winning its first boys soccer champion on air. The Wolves defeated Pasco 2-1 on May 30 to claim the title, and he’s excited for a final opportunity to earn a trophy next season.

“I want to preach hard work and dedication to my teammates next year,” he said. “Looking at the trophy right next to us makes me want to win three next year.”

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