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Excelling at Everything

by: DAN BROOD - ALL SEASONS -- Nathan Suyematsu was a first-team all-league pick in football, basketball and baseball.

Nathan Suyematsu shined on the football field, basketball court and baseball diamond as a Tualatin senior


TUALATIN — No matter what time of year it is, there are a few things you can count on.

You can count on Nathan Suyematsu being busy.

You can count on him being busy with sports.

And you can count on him being very, very good at whatever sport he was playing at the time.

That certainly seemed to be the case for Suyematsu when he shined at Tualatin High School.

Suyematsu, a 2012 Tualatin High graduate, always seemed to be in the action on the football field, basketball court and baseball diamond for the Timberwolf squads.

He excelled at a high level at all three sports — maybe like no one at Tualatin High School had ever done before.

“He did it all,” Tualatin High School football Rob Hastin said of Suyematsu. “And to do every sport at the caliber he did is just amazing.”

Amazing.

That’s one way that Suyematsu’s coaches have described him.

Here’s another.

“He’s a special athlete,” Tualatin baseball coach Adam Strachan said. “He’s worked real hard at being real good.”

How good? Well, as a Timberwolf senior, Suyematsu earned first-team All-Pacific Conference honors in football, basketball and baseball.by: DAN BROOD - HANDS ARE FULL -- Nathan Suyematsu never took a season off as a Tualatin High School senior.

“We’ve had some great athletes come through here, but I think it’s been a long time since anyone has done that,” Hastin said.

While that is very impressive, Suyematsu wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Playing all three sports is something I always did as a kid. I didn’t want to stop that in high school,” Suyematsu said last week as he looked back on his eventful high school athletic career at Tualatin. “I’ve got a ton of memories. There have been some great friendships. It’s going to be weird leaving.”

Suyematsu may be leaving high school, but it’s safe to say he left his mark at Tualatin — especially as a senior who earned first-team all-league accolades in three sports.

“My goal was to succeed at all three sports,” he said. “Making first team in all three means a lot to me. It’s special — I can hang my hat on it. I put in a lot of hard work, so it feels real good.”

Suyematsu earned plenty of honors as a Timberwolf senior, and, now he’s got another one as he’s been named The Times’ Athlete of the Year for Tualatin High School. The honor goes to the top senior-class athlete, as seen by The Times, at Tualatin High School for the 2011-2012 school year.

“What a well-rounded athlete and a great team leader,” Hastin said of Suyematsu. “His work and enthusiasm made a great difference.”

Football fantastic

While Suyematsu was busy all year long, it’s hard to match the workload he had with the Tualatin High School football team.

He started at receiver and defensive back for the Wolves while also handling all of the place-kicking and punting duties.

“I didn’t come off the field too much,” Suyematsu said with a smile. “But that’s what I wanted.”

The Wolves were probably happy with that as well.

After all, all Suyematsu did as a Tualatin senior was have 28 receptions for 445 yards and four touchdowns. He also had a fumble return for a touchdown on defense. In addition, he booted eight field goals and 39 extra points, giving him a total of 93 points scored on the season.

“He was a competitor for us,” Hastin said. “And he was that way every day.”

Suyematsu, as a junior, was a key player for the Tualatin squad that reached the Class 6A state championship game. This year, his workload grew even bigger. But that was OK with him, especially since he got to be part of a throw-and-catch combination with his good friend, and fellow senior, Travis Johnson, who played at quarterback for the Wolves.

“Playing in the championship game was special,” Suyematsu said. “But this was definitely a good year. We did well, I’m proud of the guys.”

Suyematsu helped Tualatin have an 8-3 season, which included a trip to the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs.

Suyematsu was a first-team All-Pacific Conference selection as both a receiver and a kicker and an honorable mention pick as a defensive back.

He also was a Class 6A honorable mention all-state pick as a kicker.

“He’s just a great kid,” Hastin said.

To the point

Soon after football season ended, that great kid was at it again.

It was winter, and Suyematsu was more than ready to handle the point guard duties for the Tualatin High School boys basketball team.

“I love playing point guard,” Suyematsu said. “You get to do a little bit of everything. You get to control the ball — and I want the ball.”

Suyematsu, from his point guard spot, certain seemed to do a lot for the Wolves. He provided a strong outside shooting threat, he had a quick step to the basket, which usually led to a layup or a pass to an open teammate and, as is expected at Tualatin, he played some stifling defense.

“That is where we hang our hat,” Suyematsu said. “We’ve stressed defense since third grade.”

It was also special for Suyematsu to play basketball one last year with a close-knit group of seniors.

“We’ve had our core group since fourth grade,” he said. “We had a group of seniors that love playing sports and who loved being around each other.”

While Suyematsu had many highlights during the basketball season, probably the biggest came in the first round of the Class 6A state playoffs, where he scored what turned out to be the winning basket with 20 seconds to play in a 60-57 win at Barlow.

“That game was a lot of fun,” said Suyematsu, who scored a game-high 25 points in that contest. “It was loud and probably one of the most fun games I’ve ever played in.”

Suyematsu shared the Pacific Conference Player of the Year honors with Tigard’s Jarred Kelsay.

“That really meant a lot to me,” said Suyematsu, who also was an all-state honorable mention pick. “I was surprised, but it was a good surprise.”

Diamond gem

The good feelings continued in the spring with Suyematsu providing a spark for the Tualatin High School baseball team.

“Baseball is my favorite sport,” Suyematsu said. “It was a good way to end my high school sports career.”

As was the same with his other sports at Tualatin, Suyematsu shined wherever he was needed on the baseball diamond. He played at shortstop, at second base, he pitched and he batted in the leadoff spot at times.

“He made it all look seamless,” Strachan said. “Nathan had the mindset that he knew he had to work hard. He also has a very high baseball IQ. He hates to lose and loves to compete.”

Suyematsu was a first-team All-Pacific Conference selection as an infielder and he was an honorable-mention all-state pick.

Suyematsu, and the Timberwolves, didn’t lose very much on the baseball diamond in 2012. Tualatin won the Pacific Conference title with a 16-1 league record while going 21-6 on the season.

In fact, with Suyematsu helping to lead the way, the Tualatin football, boys basketball and baseball teams combined for a 45-18 record in the 2011-2012 school year.

But, while that is definitely impressive, there were other things important to Suyematsu, especially in baseball.

“It was a lot of fun,” he said. “I got to finish up in baseball with six core friends. Me, Travis (Johnson) and Gunnar (Gustafson) have been best friends for a long time. That made this really special.”

Taking on Tigard

Speaking of special, Suyematsu gets a smile on his face when he talks about the Tigard-Tualatin match-ups.

“It’s a fun rivalry,” he said. “It’s always close when we play them and there’s full stands for every game. There was a different sense of energy when we played them. Everyone has an extra hop in their step.”

That especially was true in basketball season.

“Each team was equally good,” he said. “It was almost guaranteed to be a one-point game or an overtime game. It’s always fun to play those guys. There’s a lot of mutual respect.”

Family, memories

No matter the sport, no matter the outcome, Nathan Suyematsu knew that he could always count on his own personal cheering section — his parents, Alice and Glen Suyematsu and his younger sister, Jasmine.

“My family was huge in my success,” he said. “My dad has been working with me for as long as I can remember and my mom and sister are always there to cheer me on at every game.

“My dad has been really supportive. We’ve worked together most every day. He wants to help me be the best I can. And the bond we have is huge — he reads my mind.”

While family support was distinctive, so were memories, friends and special moments.

“We had a sleepover every year in basketball,” Nathan Suyematsu said. “That was always special. We stayed up all night and it really helped us gel as a team. It was a great way to start the season.

“In the locker room, after a football game, if we won, we got to dance. That was a fun way to celebrate. And there are all the friends I got to play sports with here at Tualatin.”

Moving on

Starting this fall, Suyematsu will be attending Pacific University in Forest Grove.

He won’t be playing three sports at Pacific, but he’ll be close to that as he plans on playing both football and baseball for the Boxers.

He’ll both kick and play at receiver for the Pacific football team and play wherever they want him to come baseball season.

“I’m really excited,” Suyematsu said. “It’s a great college and they really support the athletic programs.”

In addition to playing football and baseball at Pacific, Suyematsu will also be studying physical therapy.

“I’ll definitely be busy,” he said. “But I don’t know what I’d do if I wasn’t playing sports.”