LANGLEY — Several years ago, a South Whidbey Parks & Recreation District youth soccer team suddenly found itself without a goalie.
That’s when fate stepped in.
Dylan Fate, that is. Now a high school senior, he stepped in and has played the position ever since.
“I began playing when I was 8. It’s a game that requires a certain mental toughness beyond the physical aspects,” he explained.
The South Whidbey High School soccer team begins its season at noon on Saturday with a home game against Friday Harbor at Waterman Field.
“I’m pretty confident this year; coach (Joel) Gerlach is focusing on team dynamics and synchronization,” Fate said.
Not to mention a little hard work. “Assistant coach Marvin Moreno — he was on the Costa Rican national team — really knows how to push us hard in practice, getting all of us to go beyond what we think we’re capable of doing,” he said.
Coach Gerlach is depending on his varsity players to rise to the occasion; last season the team finished 6-9 overall and Gerlach is searching for a major turnaround so competition for each position is both fierce and fluid.
Fate was the primary goalie last year but faces increased pressure as the coaches strive to find the right person for each spot.
Gerlach said he hasn’t decided on several positions yet as he attempts to balance the team’s assets. But he appreciates Fate’s contributions on and off the field.
“Dylan’s a great kid with a terrific attitude and was a co-captain last year,” Gerlach said. “He gives everything he can to the game and even set up a Web page so all 51 players can e-mail each other and the coaches.
“Kids these days have a lot on their plates.”
Fate fully understands that balancing soccer, a part-time job at Linds Drugstore and the demands of school and family isn’t easy.
Fate has lived on Whidbey Island for 16 years with his father Chris, mom Jean and brother Casey, a sophomore at South Whidbey High School.
Beyond soccer, Fate enjoys skiing and mountain biking.
“I go where the mood takes me,” he said.
At school, Fate is concentrating his senior studies on science and math by taking advanced placement classes in biology and statistics. At this point, he’s weighing college options but Washington State University has the inside track, where he hopes to study engineering and business administration.
Though he said it’s too early for any kind of permanent commitment about his future, he sees himself starting as an engineer for a company then moving into the business end once he knows more.
He has high praise for the education he’s gotten at South Whidbey High School.
“I’ve heard from past graduates that their first year in college went easier because of what they learned here,” he said. “I saw that for myself during the Knowledge Bowl. Doing well is based on what you know; it isn’t something you can prepare for by reading a book.”
On March 24, Fate and 11 Falcon teammates will represent the school at the annual interschool academic competition finals in Camas.
“I’ve always wanted to be on a game show like Jeopardy and that’s what the Bowl is like,” Fate said. “Each of us will bring something special to the table in terms of academic background and interests.”
Fate has been involved in student government since his freshman year and designed his class’ senior T-shirt — black with a prominent white eight ball denoting the year.
And he’s interested in the national political scene as well, and attended the recent Democratic caucus.
“It was great to see so many people turn out, whatever their beliefs,” he said. “There’s been a lot of spontaneous political talk since last September, and not just in classrooms.”
Now that he’s 18, he plans to vote for Barack Obama in November.
“He has good principles but is pragmatic enough to do what’s right,” Fate said. “I think he’s the right person to find solutions that work for everyone by bringing people together.”
Dovetailing his interest in engineering and his senior culminating project — part of the portfolio all students need for graduation — Fate is also heavily involved with installing solar panels on top of the grandstands at Waterman Field.
“We’re going to tie the power generated by the panels into the school’s electrical system to offset their needs,” Fate said.
He’s been working with science instructor Jay Freundlich on the project.
“He started it last summer with a solar energy presentation at the Maxwelton outdoor classroom,” Freundlich said. “Dylan is a very forward-looking and dedicated young man.”
When he isn’t solving the world’s energy problems, Fate listens to alternative rock bands.
“I really like to go to concerts, especially the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Modest Mouse,” he said. His favorite movies include the graphic “Sin City” and the teen comedy “Superbad.”
Fate said growing up on Whidbey has been a great experience for him and his brother. “The best part is knowing a lot of people, making connections between adults and my friends,” he said.
There’s a downside, though. “What I don’t like is the lack of opportunities to meet other people because the island is so closed. Not many stores if you need to go shopping, either.”
He said being on the soccer team helps because of the travel required. “And I’m working on the Cascade Conference tour bringing kids from other schools to show off South Whidbey,” he said. “And there’s a lot to show.”
Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.