Every successful team seems to have one of those players -- the one that doesn't say much in the locker room, but can be counted on to lead by example once the team takes the field.
For the Soldotna Stars, that player is Jared Carlson, a senior who is finishing up his high school career as a captain of the boys soccer team after quietly making an impact with the Soldotna football and wrestling teams.
On the Field
Member of Soldotna football, wrestling and soccer teams.
Honorable-mention all-NLC selection at linebacker.
Third place at 152 pounds at Area 3 wrestling meet.
In the Classroom
All A's and one B in his high school career.
Member of school band, Borough and State Honors Choir, National Honor Society.
Won first-place award in drafting at VICA district and state competitions.
In fact, Soldotna football coach Rob Dimick recently paid Carlson perhaps the highest compliment a high school coach could give a player.
"I asked him the other day, 'You got any brothers coming up?," Dimick said.
In other words, Dimick would be thrilled to have another player cut from Carlson's mold.
"He'll outwork you," Dimick said of Carlson. "He doesn't say much, but he'll outwork you. People see that -- it's quiet leadership.
"His work ethic is his biggest attribute. I don't know how many god-given talents he has, but he's enhanced every one of them because of his work ethic."
Carlson's talents are extensive. His extracurricular activities include the National Honor Society, Borough and All-State honor choirs, the SoHi band and the Vocational and Industrial Club of America. Carlson won first place in drafting at both the VICA district and state competitions.
Carlson also is involved in the Boy Scouts, earning his Eagle Scout, scouting's highest award, when he was 14. He has since moved on to a Venturing program, an advanced version of the Boy Scouts.
That work ethic earned Carlson a captainship with the Stars wrestling team this winter, and prompted soccer coach John Bramante to name Carlson a team captain -- adding him to the two captains elected by the team at the end of last season.
"It was pretty unexpected because we already had two captains," Carlson said. "I was excited, because I wanted to be one. I try to be a leader on the team and always keep everyone going."
Carlson said soccer has been his favorite sport, particularly because practices are as much fun as games.
"I enjoy soccer," Carlson said. "I like football and I had a good experience in wrestling. I started soccer in junior high, and I've played ever since. I just like the game -- even practices are fun. In other sports, practices can get kinda dry."
Carlson wouldn't trade in the experiences he gained in athletics, dry practices and all.
"Football was a blast. We got to go to the state championship. I'll always remember losing to Nikiski, but it was fun," Carlson said. "I really started wrestling my junior year. It's a tough sport. It helps with self-discipline. Your success depends on how hard you work."
Carlson filled whatever role he was asked to fill for the Stars football team.
"He's just a team guy," Dimick said. "He played inside linebacker, and we played him everywhere. He played some fullback, and he played on the line at times."
While he wasn't asked to carry the ball at all, Carlson was adept at opening up holes for the Stars' running backs in their run-oriented offense while closing gaps from his linebacker position on the defensive side of the ball.
He also kicked four extra points for the Stars and was an honorable mention all-Northern Lights Conference selection at linebacker.
He capped his wrestling season with a third-place finish at 152 pounds at the Area 3 wrestling championship meet and a trip to the state championships. Carlson was the Stars' Most Improved Wrestler as a junior and the team's Most Inspirational Wrestler as a senior.
Carlson's work ethic doesn't let up once he leaves the field or gym. In fact, he said his experience in sports has helped him maintain his nearly perfect grade point average.
"It's really helped me with self-discipline," Carlson said. "I've learned a lot about working hard and accomplishing goals."
Carlson has plans to attend Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, next fall. He said he enjoys math and science and is planning to major in engineering.
Carlson is an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and said that after a year of college, he will serve a two-year mission before returning to BYU to finish his degree.
Carlson is excited about his final season of soccer at Soldotna High School. The Stars started with a two-game split on the road, defeating Houston and losing to Colony. Carlson, who had played midfield for most of his career, has moved back on defense for the Stars this season.
"In the first game, they switched me around," Carlson said. "I played some stopper and outside back.
"Every year before, I played halfback, but after football this year, I really like defense. I don't know what happened."
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