Multisport skills puts athlete on Air Force’s radar

June 22, 2010

By Christopher Huber

Mitchell Kim participated in 12 of 12 possible sports seasons at Skyline High School. He was a football wide receiver, a varsity swimmer and an outside midfielder in soccer. By Christopher Huber

Mitchell Kim has always managed to participate in as many school and club sports as possible. He played varsity football, swam for Skyline High School’s swim and dive team, starred on the Spartans and Eastside FC soccer teams and, at times throughout his life, played basketball and baseball. In one year as a middle-schooler, Mitchell said he remembers playing on seven different sports teams.“He’s just passionate and he’s one of the hardest working guys I know,” said best friend and longtime Skyline and Eastside FC teammate Brian Schwartz.

Kim, a 2010 Skyline graduate, finished his high school athletics career having participated in 12 of 12 sports seasons. During that time, he set records and built a reputation as a well-rounded leader and skilled performer, especially on the soccer field.

“On the field, he’s incredibly focused. You can just tell he loves the game,” Schwartz said. “He doesn’t quit. He’s going to leave it all on the field. I think that’s what made him as good as he is.”

Although soccer is his true passion in sports, Kim said he loved swimming and playing football. Both sports teach different skills and also help you stay in shape throughout the school year, he said. Participating in multiple sports also taught him to be humble and to learn from others, said Skyline head soccer coach Don Braman.

“Being a multisport athlete prepares you to be a great leader, but it also prepares you for life,” Braman said.

Schwartz said Kim is a prime example of how young athletes can end up playing college ball. Kim was able to balance three sports, often playing on club teams concurrently, and schoolwork well. He maintained a 3.6 grade point average.

“He was the benchmark for where people should be,” Schwartz said. “Not only a great athlete, but it proves he’s well-rounded as a human being. You see a lot of athletes not work in academics, but he’s able to balance and put the right amount of effort in, on and off the field.”

While many youths get into sports early by their parents’ encouragement, Kim said he has always done it for sheer enjoyment. Each of his four siblings play multiple sports and it’s just what his family does, he said.

“My parents never forced me. I always had fun with it. It’s a good outlet,” Kim said. “It helps you take your mind off things, so you’re not always thinking about school.”

Perseverance has been key

Throughout his athletic career, Kim has had his fair share of injuries. He broke his collarbone freshman year, just before football started. He pulled his quadricep muscle in soccer sophomore year and lost the cushioning fluid in his knee during football his junior year. He also had surgery to remove an ingrown toenail during his senior football season.

“All of my tendons have been fine,” he said. But you come back “just through hard work.”

Additionally, he broke his hand last summer.

“I didn’t even know I broke it,” Kim said. “I think I’m pretty much 100 percent now.”

While he battled various injuries on the side, he seemed to always maintain a strong work ethic and high skill level. As an outside midfielder at Skyline, he became known for his powerful and accurate throw-ins.

“Mitch is a really talented kid in terms of what he brings to the field. He’s a kid that helps us possess well,” Braman said. He had “a great targeted, long throw in.”

In fact, what Braman considered as Kim’s career highlight was a throw-in-header goal against Puyallup in the 2010 playoff run. In the 78th minute, Kim tossed the ball in from the sideline on a line and senior Braxton Griffin headed it right in before anyone knew what happened. It was the nail in the coffin, as Skyline won 3-0.

“It was truly phenomenal. It was just a rope,” Braman said. “It was one of the best throw-in goals you’ll ever see. It was a thing of beauty and a great exclamation point” for the season.

Kim likes to think his best moment came against district rival Issaquah, when he tied the game at 1-1 in April. The goal in the 65th minute came at just the right time and was the culmination of the entire team’s hard work on its home field, he said. Skyline won that match 2-1.

Senior soccer season was record setter

Kim’s experience as a utility player — he mostly played defender — with the repeat-state-champion Eastside FC helped him stay in the right mindset for the high school soccer season, he said.

“With a team so great, you’re playing and practicing with the best players in the state,” he said.

He attributes Skyline’s relative success in 2010 to the fact that most of the players also play year round.

“We were stacked. Everyone was on club teams,” he said.

Kim’s senior soccer season stood out among teammates and coaches. He set three school records. He had the most assists in a game, with three, and the most in one season, with 11. He also earned the Skyline record for career assists with 18 over four years.

“He leads by example. He’s there to have fun, but also taking things seriously,” Braman said. “He’s got a great understanding of the game.”

Not only is Kim an assist machine, he has a favorite shot, too. He said his absolute best shot on goal is from 20 yards out, from the top left side of the goal box, where the horizontal line meets the D-shaped line.

“I like shooting that a lot,” he said.

That shot, coupled with his academic achievements, physical fitness, and overall skill and dedication, may have helped land Kim a spot on the roster at the Air Force Academy. Kim left for Colorado Springs, Colo., on June 22. He seemed happy to be able to continue in soccer, considering he would like to go pro someday.

“It’s just a great game. I just love it,” Kim said. “I’ve wanted to play pro soccer since forever.”

Christopher Huber: 392-6434, ext. 242, or chuber@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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