Each year the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, the state’s governing body for high school sports, selects eight new representatives for its 16-member LEAP board, which stands for Leadership through Education, Activities and Personal development.
The young men and women who are chosen tend to excel in sports, academics and leadership at their schools. Put another way, said Conor Laffey, the WIAA’s sports and activities information director, the association looks for candidates “who are making the most out of their high school experience.”
This year the WIAA found an outstanding addition to its board in Michael Larson of Everett High School.
Larson is a member of the basketball and baseball teams at Everett, but his school involvement includes much more than sports. He is a top student with a grade-point-average close to 3.5 on a 4.0 scale, and he is the president of his junior class, just as he was the president of his freshman and sophomore classes.
“What was unique about Michael,” Laffey said, “is that here was a kid at a pretty large high school that was a class president for three straight years. That’s uncommon at any school. (Everett) has a pretty large enrollment, and for a kid to be viewed as (that kind of) leader for his first three years was incredible.”
In his application, Larson mentioned that he was interested in “leadership and in serving others, and that sports had given him the confidence to seek extracurricular activities like ASB,” Laffey added. “So here was a kid that for (the WIAA) was a no-brainer.
“He was highly involved, and his letters of recommendation from teachers and advisors were just impeccable. It was obvious to us that this was a kid who was a shoo-in. He was exactly what this committee represents.”
As a LEAP board member, Larson will be asked to provide input on various activities and events organized by the WIAA. It is a chance, he explained, to offer “student feedback … what the students and the players think of how it’s all run.”
Larson, who envisions a career “where I’m doing something that helps people,” applied for the LEAP board in his sophomore year. His application included a video, essay and letters of recommendation.
When he received a subsequent letter notifying him of his acceptance, “I was ecstatic,” he said. “It was a cool feeling, knowing that I was one of many applicants and that I got in, so I was real excited.”
He already has been to two board meetings at the WIAA offices in Renton, and he will have four others over the course of the school year. Joining him on the board this year is Tylor Adcock of Kamiak High School, with representatives coming from elsewhere in the state and from schools of all sizes.
The best part of being a LEAP board member, Larson said, “is just knowing that you’re there as a voice for all of Washington and having a say in what happens. That’s probably the coolest thing for me.”