Most high school coaches have to worry about how a player will handle the adversity that is sure to come throughout the season.
That's not the case with Nikiski hockey coach Bob Bird and senior Brett Allemann.
When Allemann was a freshman, his mother, Nancie, died unexpectedly of a heart attack at 47.
Allemann's father, Jim, had always hoped he was teaching his son how to deal with adversity. One of the methods Jim used as a teaching tool was sports.
This, however, was out of the scope of any adversity Brett had ever had to deal with in sports.
A measure of how Brett dealt with the adversity came three days after his mother died, when Brett had a football game.
"Brett was wondering whether it was still possible if he could play," Jim said. "The coaches, Ward Romans and Lee Moore, came over and talked to me, and I told them I was OK with it.
"Then they talked to Brett, and he said he wanted to play. He ended up playing, and that to me says a ton about his character."
That character is one of the predominant things Bird and Nikiski soccer coach Jim Coburn mention about Allemann.
"He's always been a pretty mature kid," said Coburn, who has known Allemann since he was in elementary school. "Sometimes, tragedy is an excuse to fail, but he didn't use that as an excuse.
"He's an outstanding kid. Actually, he's what I would call a young adult. He's past the kid stage."
Allemann credits his maturity to two different sources. Of course, he says the death of his mother forced him to mature. He also said the close relationship he has with his sister, 22-year-old Tesa Sturman, made him more mature.
"My sister and I get along so well that when we're together, people are always asking, 'Are you guys boyfriend and girlfriend? Are you married?'" Allemann said. "I would always hang out with my sister and her friends, and since they're older than me that made me more mature."
Allemann also is a mature skater on the ice thanks to the fact that his father had him skating when he was 4 years old.
"I got interested in hockey about that time and thought it'd be fun to learn how to skate," Jim said. "I got hooked on hockey and it just went from there."
Brett Allemann is now so comfortable skating that he says his blades are just like another pair of feet.
Jim ended up coaching Brett's youth hockey teams for a few years. He felt conscious about building a team around his son, so he did just the opposite. Wherever the team was weakest, whether it be on defense or forward, that's where Jim plugged Brett in to play.
That go-anywhere attitude to help the team has been appreciated by Bird this season. Due to injuries, Allemann started the season on defense. Recently, with the Bulldogs getting to full strength, Allemann moved to forward. He has seven goals and 14 assists this season.
"I'll go anywhere to help the team, except maybe goalie," Allemann said. "That doesn't look like very much fun."
Many would say playing in the cold at Nikiski's covered outdoor facility doesn't look like very much fun, either.
However, Allemann enjoys playing in the cold so much he'd like to work in the cold when he's done with high school.
He's trying to get into the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. He would like to get an apprenticeship to learn to work outdoors on power lines.
"I like working outside in the cold," Allemann said. "I was brought up in Alaska, so the cold never bothered me that much.
"I can't stand being inside."
Allemann also started playing soccer at a young age, taking up the sport when he was 7. Coburn said Allemann is skilled with both feet. He also showed his versatility by being the only defensive player to score a goal for Nikiski last season.
"He's a leader by example," Coburn said. "He shows all the players, coaches and officials a lot of respect.
"He gives the younger kids a fine example to follow."
When not playing sports, Allemann makes a point of taking challenging classes at Nikiski. Thus far, he's been able to maintain a 3.3 grade point average.
Allemann also is an active Christian. He is a youth leader for Young Life, a nondenominational Christian ministry that reaches out to adolescents through volunteers, club meetings and camps. He also plays the drums at First Baptist Church of Kenai.
Christianity, according to Allemann, played a huge role in helping him and his family deal with the death of their mother. Jim met Robin Allemann on a Web site for Christian widows and the two were married Brett's sophomore year.
"She has five kids, and they're all great," Brett Allemann said. "Having the families come together definitely presented a challenge, but it went really well.
"We've definitely been blessed to have things go as well as they have."
Jim remains proud of the way Brett has persevered through trying times.
"Ever since my mom passed away, my family, friends and God helped me overcome sadness and turn it into something great," Brett said. "I've been especially blessed with a great father and a great sister. I couldn't be happier."
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