Athlete of the Year | Myers, Earley set gold standard for Lakers
June 10, 2015
North Tahoe's male Athletes of the Year were not the types to scuffle with an opponent, show up a teammate or disrespect an official. They were too classy for any of that.
All Mitchell Myers and Lucas Earley did was perform, and let their games do the talking.
"Lucas is a solid player and a coach's dream," North Tahoe soccer coach Beto Alcaraz said of Earley, a three-sport athlete and Division III soccer MVP his senior season. "He's very easy to coach, very polite. I feel fortunate and honored to have coached him the past four years."
The same compliments could be paid to Myers.
"He showed up to play every game and never complained," said North Tahoe basketball coach Frank Wright. "He was a team leader and was very polite, and was an excellent role model. Every sport he's ever participated in, he's a kid you could always count on."
Both Earley and Myers enjoyed fine high school careers for the Lakers. In addition to soccer, Earley was a standout on the North Tahoe alpine ski and baseball teams, while Myers excelled for the North Tahoe basketball and baseball teams all four years.
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It didn't take long for Alcaraz to recognize Earley's talents.
"The first time I saw him play, I knew he could play at the varsity level," Alcaraz said. "He was very technical and aggressive and a very good leader on the field and off the field. He's like a field general, where he dictates the tempo and rhythm of the game."
From Day 1 Alcaraz placed the talented freshman at center midfield, a position that demands above-average skills, intelligence and maturity.
"They're the ones who create plays and have to think and control the pace of the game," Alcaraz said. "He's always had excellent vision, speed and ball skills. He meant a lot to our team."
Coaches named Earley the Division III state MVP as a senior, when the Lakers played into the state championship before losing a tightly contested heartbreaker to rival Incline.
Earley made the transition straight into alpine skiing in the winter season. A successful racer on the Far West circuit, Earley was a threat to win any race he entered for the Lakers in the Tahoe Basin Ski League. He won the state dual slalom title and placed second in the giant slalom.
Come spring, Earley was a valuable member of the North Tahoe baseball team, despite seeing limited action on the field due to band and other commitments. North Tahoe baseball coach Mike Tidd said he participated in only about 60 percent of the Lakers' games. The team would have been significantly better if he played every one.
"I wish he would have been available the entire season, because he's an impact player," Tidd said. "When he was around, the whole team kind of picked up its energy. He really does have high-quality team leadership skills. He's the kind of guy that others want to follow. When he was around, he really made a difference."
Earley posted a .406 batting average his senior year and could play just about any position on the field, including catcher, middle infield and center field. Tidd described him as gritty, fast, energetic and always hustling.
"Lucas would have been All-League consideration if he was a full-time player. He was arguably our best all-around athlete. He was a magnetic, team leader type of guy. He was awesome," Tidd said.
As team captain, Myers led the North Tahoe baseball team his senior year and was an impact player on varsity all four years. Like Earley, he could — and did — play every position for the Lakers. He was the No. 1 starting pitcher and finished the year with an eye-popping .596 batting average and .788 slugging percentage.
"Mitchell hits for contact and hits for power. He has a really good plate approach and was very dependable for us," Tidd said. "He's just wise beyond his years in terms of baseball acumen."
Myers was the only North Tahoe player voted to the All-League first team.
In basketball, at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, Myers could hold his own in the post against the best big men the Division III had to offer. Yet he contributed to the North Tahoe basketball team in many other ways, including keeping his cool under pressure or when things weren't going the Lakers' way.
"He got pounded this year and he never, ever retaliated. He gets fouled all the time, and no matter what the call was, he continued to play through it," Wright said. "He led by example and he had a presence in the locker room. The kids respected his thoughts and statements. Those things are intangibles that you can't really develop in a kid."
Myers, who also has a soft touch from outside for a big man, averaged a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. He could have made the All-League first team but settled for a selection to the second team.
"He was someone we'd go to if we needed a basket. He was our scoring machine," Wright said. "I'm going to miss him severely. He's a great kid who made coaching fun."
In addition to his athletic ability, Wright said Myers also boasts an underrated sense of humor.
"He has an incredible dry sense of humor. He kept threatening that he was going to go out for Nordic skiing."