Soldotna's Kevin Laurion controls the ball during a game last weekend.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
There was no South Beach Diet for Soldotna senior Kevin Laurion. No carb counting, no Tae Bo, no Jazzercise, no Spinning, no searching late-night commercials for a solution.
The summer before his sophomore year, Laurion played in a couple of soccer leagues. He then went out for football as a sophomore. And the weight simply disappeared.
When he enrolled at Soldotna and hit the football field as a freshman, Laurion was 5-foot-3, 195 pounds. Laurion didn’t even go out for hockey or soccer, his favorite sport, as a Soldotna freshman because of his weight.
But by the time Laurion went out for football as a sophomore, he was well on his way to getting down to 160 pounds.
“It just kind of came off,” Laurion said of the weight. “I didn’t set out to say I was going to lose weight or go on a diet.
“All of a sudden my mom asked me my weight, and I said I was down to 160 pounds. She said, ‘Wow.’”
Although Laurion would not be able to play football as a junior or senior due to job conflicts, he went on to have successful three-year careers in both hockey and soccer.
“Once the weight was down, it made playing those sports a lot easier,” Laurion said.
Laurion started playing soccer in third grade and has frequently played with both the Boys and Girls Club and the Kenai Peninsula Soccer Club. He said he likes the sport so much that he kept playing it even though he began to get overweight in middle school.
“Playing soccer without the weight has been like night and day,” Laurion said. “It used to be I couldn’t run five minutes without getting tired.”
Soldotna boys soccer coach Jeff Siemers said he never knew Laurion when he was a freshman, but he said the work ethic that allowed the senior to transform his body remains evident.
“When we’re running and doing conditioning, he’s the guy you want to keep up with,” Siemers said. “I never have to push him to do conditioning.”
Laurion is so dedicated to being in shape for soccer that he runs on his own on Sundays during the season.
Siemers said having a player like Laurion on a team is essential in Alaska prep soccer, because the season starts when the fields are still coated with snow.
“I appreciate that he starts thinking about the season right when, or before, the season starts,” Siemers said. “When the first five or six weeks are spent in a gym, you need that leadership.”
Laurion has played an important role once the action moves outside, as well. As a sophomore and junior he played center midfielder. He prefers that position, but this year the Stars had a hole to fill in the defense so Laurion moved back to captain the defense as a sweeper.
“I wish I could run more,” Laurion said. “Midfielder allows you to run the whole field and play offense and defense.
“If there’s a hole the team needs filled on defense, though, I’m definitely going to fill it.”
The Stars didn’t get on a field until their first game, so the learning curve at sweeper for Laurion was steep. Soldotna started the season with a tough trip to the Matanuska-Susitna valleys, but currently sits at 5-4 overall and 3-2 in the Northern Lights Conference Southern Division.
“A sweeper can’t be trained in the gym,” Siemers said. “Learning as we played outside was tough, but he’s getting better each game.”
Laurion is no stranger to playing the game of in-season catchup. When he went out for the hockey team as a sophomore, he hadn’t played the game since sixth grade.
“He would come back from practice for hockey and then go back to SoHi to skate and shoot,” said Laurion’s mom, Paula. “He was trying hard to get better because he had a lot of catching up to do.”
When Laurion was a sophomore, Soldotna hockey head coach Aaron Swanson was in his first year at the helm of the Stars and the program was in a rebuilding mode. Along with fellow SoHi senior Brian Herring, Laurion helped rebuild the program.
“Because they were both being counted on from the time they were sophomores to play a lot, they didn’t have to go through the normal transition to being leaders as seniors,” Swanson said.
Laurion earned the Coach’s Award as a sophomore, but his career came to a disappointing end as a senior. In the final regular season game and Senior Night, Laurion was rubbed out on the boards and broke his shoulder blade in two places, ending his season.
Paula Laurion said one of the ironic things about the injury was that, as part of Senior Night, the seniors were asked for the worst injury of their career. Laurion had answered that he hadn’t had a bad injury.
The setback did not stop Laurion from being part of the team.
“He still came to practices and games,” Swanson said. “He was still pushing everybody to do the best they could. That says a lot about him as a person.”
Laurion has a 3.1 grade-point average at Soldotna. He will join his brother, Scott, at St. Cloud University in Minnesota next year, where he will study biomedical sciences with the goal of one day becoming a radiologist, an interest he picked up after his shoulder injury.
“I’d just like to thank my parents for everything,” Laurion said of Paula and Stuart Laurion. “Especially my mom. I think she’s been to almost every one of my games, even the ones in Fairbanks.”
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