Snohomish's Tanner Perry is a decorated three-sport athlete in football wrestling and golf. He finished eighth among 4A 152-pounders as the 2013 Mat Classic, served as team captain on the wrestling and football teams, was voted Defensive MVP as a senior on the football team and was voted to the All-Wesco team in all three sports.
Academically, Perry is just as successful. He finished high school with a 3.986 GPA and served as an ASB Class Senator for four years and a member of LINK Crew, National Honor Society amongst other clubs. He also was the recipient of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association's first annual Smart Choices Scholarship, which gives students a $5,000 scholarship.
But Perry's greatest achievement of his high-school career might be his work, along with two other classmates, to increase the athletic eligibility for special-needs students in Washington State. His efforts were influenced by his friendship with Ike Ditzenberger, a Snohomish student with Down Syndrome.
All of these accomplishments have earned Perry the Class of 2013 Boy Athlete of the Year award. Herald Writer Aaron Lommers recently spoke with Perry to discuss his high-school career and his future.
What was the top moment of your high-school career?
I would say graduation because it was kind of the hurrah with everybody and just the fact that we get to do it in Everett (at Comcast Arena) and walk across the big stage and be with everybody in front of all of our friends and family, it's a pretty cool thing.
If you had to pick a sports related moment what would it be?
I would say Ike's touchdown. When he scored I was on the sideline of the field. It was just special because of the whole situation that Lake Stevens was willing to do that for a kid like him and give him a chance for glory. That literally made that kid's life. Since then he (is) a happier kid and he loved every bit of it and he still loves it whenever we talk about it. It just made that kid's life. That's why it's special to me.
How did you and Ike meet?
I met Ike when I was in eighth grade and he was freshman at school. I would just come to practice with my dad (former Snohomish head football coach Mark Perry) all the time. He would come over and like mess around with me on the sideline when he got bored with practice.
Why has Ike meant so much to you through high school?
He is just a really nice guy. He is just a normal kid like us. He likes to hang out with people and have fun and play Xbox and drink pop. He's just really funny. Once you get to know him and he's not too shy around you, he will start to joke around with you and have a bunch of fun with you too. He calls me basically every single day, just to talk to me on the phone about the most random things. Hopefully we keep that up and he calls me all the time. Otherwise, whenever I come home from school (at Pacific Lutheran University) I will always try to hang out with him or give him a call and meet up with him at Starbucks or whatever and just make sure we keep our good friendship.
What are your long-term future plans?
I plan to study education and become a special needs teacher. I've always kind of wanted to be a teacher. I just kind of like being around the school theme. I've always wanted to coach football and maybe even wrestling and golf. Then, once I met Ike and got accompanied with him ... just the way they think about life and the way they love to have fun. I love teaching and I love being with those kind of kids. When they get happy or they accomplish something and they get a big old smile on their face and throw their hands up in the air and do whatever they do, it just feels really good to me and that's why I think I want to continue to be involved with them.
What was your biggest achievement in sports and how were you able to achieve it?
I would say being on the All-Wesco team for three different sports. I definitely had the right people to do it with and a big thanks to my coaches and fellow players. Just going out there and making sure I do it right and having fun at the same time. When you do that, things end up going pretty well.
For the athletes of the year, the top five vote-getters in the fan vote were combined with a staff pick and pared down to a top four before a winner was chosen. Besides Tanner Perry, the three athletes below were in the final four of the Class of 2013 Boy Athlete of the Year:
Sean Elledge, Glacier Peak
This Grizzlies senior had arguably the best season on the field of any of the 2013 nominees. After leading the football team to the state tournament, Elledge was selected as The Herald's Defensive Player of the Year and was a nominee for the Offensive Player of the Year. He was first team All-Area on both offense and defense. In the winter he won won his second straight state championship at the Mat Classic. He then picked up a bat for the first time in a few years and promptly helped lead the Glacier Peak baseball team to the state tournament and was named to The Herald's All-Area second team. He'll be taking all that skill to Central Washington.
Justin Peterson, Lakewood
This Cougars senior did a little bit of everything on the football field. So much so that scoring three touchdowns —throwing, receiving and rushing — in one game was coined a "Justin Peterson" by Herald writer David Krueger. He was named to The Herald's All-Area football first team as an athlete and was a nominee for Player of the Year on offense and defense. He led the Lakewood football team to back-to-back state appearances. In the winter he was selected to all-conference basketball first team. Peterson won a state title in the triple jump as a junior and had back-to-back second-place finishes in the high jump at state. He's headed to Central Washington to play football.
Kyle Nobach, Marysville Pilchuck
Whether it was going over the middle to catch a pass in front of a linebacker or stealing home to win the game, this Tomahawks senior played football and baseball with equal abandon. He was named All-Wesco first-team offense and defense for football and first-team infielder in baseball. He was also an All-State football selection and was the Offensive MVP of the All-State baseball game. Besides keeping a 3.6 GPA, he also volunteered with Pumpkins for Literacy, helped raise money for Hurricane Sandy relief and worked on the You Gotta Love This Place school clean up project. He's Headed to Everett Community College to play baseball.
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