Eagles senior leaves legacy of honor

March 8, 2011

By Gwen Davis

When Nik Landdeck entered the Tacoma Dome for the first time, he was a bright-eyed, gleeful little fan, enraptured by the sweeping football glory.

Now, however, only 10 years later, when Landdeck graces the Dome, he does not hold a basket of hotdogs in the energized stands. Instead, he holds a grass-stained football in the open field, leading the Issaquah High School varsity football team.

Nik Landdeck holds the first Nik Landdeck Award, which was started by his basketball coach Jason Griffith. It will be given to a deserving Issaquah High School player annually. By Staci Landdeck

Landdeck, an 18-year-old senior, is a multitalented football and basketball powerhouse.

In his senior year, he lettered in varsity football and earned first-team 4A All KingCo honors as an inside linebacker and second team honors as a fullback. In basketball this winter, Landdeck averaged 9.1 points a game for the season (18 games) and had a total of 163 points. When the 4A all-KingCo team was selected, Landdeck earned honorable mention.

At the recent year-end banquet for baseball, he was given the first Nik Landdeck Award by head basketball coach Jason Griffith.

“We have team standards — TEAM UP — which stands for Teachable Spirit, Education, Accountability, Mental Toughness, Unity and Passion,” Griffith wrote in an e-mail explaining the award. “ It was very clear to me early in the season that Nik Landdeck’s characteristics represent all of these standards at an extremely high level.

“Nik is the type of kid that you dream about coaching and it was an honor to coach him, even if it was only for one season,” he wrote. “With this award, Nik has left his footprint on this program for years to come. It is something the whole senior class can take pride in as they laid a great foundation for our program.”

The award will be a plaque placed at IHS and each year a varsity player will be able to receive the Nik Landdeck Award, according to Nik’s mom, Staci Landdeck.

Landdeck excels at his game, not only because of his athletic gifts, but his gracious personality as well.

“Nik is such a high-character kid, and that comes through in his leadership skills and the way he approaches everything,” said Chris Bennett, Landdeck’s football coach. “With such class, he just kind of puts everyone to their knees.”

Landdeck stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 215 pounds, and has blue eyes and sandy-brown hair. After being recruited by many universities for football, Landdeck has decided to walk on at the University of Idaho.

“Nik is the perfect representation of a student athlete,” Bennett said. “Whoever gets him will be a very lucky program.”

But Landdeck’s own response to his success is humble and matter-of-fact: “I’m very passionate at what I do. I work 100 percent at everything. I don’t take the easy road,” he said with a small shrug and smile.

Fellow football and basketball teammates laud Landdeck’s leadership abilities.

“He puts his heart into every play,” said senior Jay Deinies. “You always know he will give it his all.”

Senior Adam Dondoyano reflected on Landdeck’s influence on his own athletic career.

“Nik has always been the big leader,” he said. “He’s always showed me the way.”

Despite football and basketball practices, Landdeck holds his own academically. He has a 3.5 grade point average; his favorite subjects are English and environmental sciences.

“He’s able to handles his athletics and academics through dedication,” Griffith said. “Obviously, there are kids who aren’t able to manage it academically.”

With a faint blush, though, Landdeck suggested his grade point average “should maybe be a little bit higher.”

Teammate Eric Lemke, a junior, stated simply that Nik is “inspirational,” while teammate Ethan Kalin, also a junior, said that Nik has made “a big impact.”

Landdeck, it seems, with overwhelming consensus, is doing something right.

“Nik is an absolute blessing to coach,” Griffith said. “He looks in your eyes, says ‘Yes, sir.’ He gives it his all. I want my own kids to grow up to be like him.”

And how is Landdeck handling all of this attention, with reporters, interviews and photos?

“It’s cool to have an article written about me,” Landdeck said, his voice carrying a touch of unease. And then he added, after an uncomfortable pause: “But everyone else on my team kind of deserves this, too.”

Gwen Davis is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory. Managing Editor Kathleen R. Merrill contributed to this story. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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