Kenai's Michael Dormady prepares to block a Juneau defender during a game this fall.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
There’s no second chances when it comes to making a first impression. When it came to Kenai Central senior Michael Dormady and Kenai wrestling coach Dave Boyle, no second chance was needed.
The minute Boyle met Dormady after taking over the Kardinals last year, Boyle knew all he needed to know.
“I knew that he was going to be the captain of my team the leader,” Boyle said. “And that he was going to make my life a lot easier.
“He’s a great leader and he’s got a great sense of humor, too. He treats other kids with respect, so they respect him.”
Kenai football coach Jim Beeson also took advantage of Dormady’s leadership qualities this year by making him a captain.
“Watching us play this year, physically we weren’t as talented as we had been in the past,” Beeson said. “Michael helped us win some football games because he’s been there and done it. He made sure other kids prepared.”
Don Dormady, Michael’s father, said his son is one of those athletes that students shout for at football games or surround the wrestling mat to see.
“Michael’s one of the natural leaders,” Don said. “When he steps in, people respect him. If somebody’s not following, he’ll tell them to step up. He doesn’t disrespect them, he teaches them.”
Like any good leader, Dormady does more than talk the talk. In football, he played an increasing role on varsity his freshman through junior years as the Kardinals won three small-schools state championships.
As a junior, Dormady made the all-Northern Lights Conference second team at offensive tackle and inside linebacker. This year, Dormady was first team all-small-schools state at defensive interior lineman. He also was first team all-conference at interior lineman and second team all-conference at offensive guard.
Dormady also has made his mark on the wrestling mat. As a junior, he waited until the final seconds to toss two-time defending state champion Jake Wade of Wasilla on his back and take the NLC championship at 189 pounds with a 3-2 victory.
According to Don Dormady, a great deal of his son’s success has come from trying to best Kenny Dormady, who is Michael’s brother and graduated from Kenai in 2004.
“Ever since Michael and Kenny were small, whatever Kenny would do, Michael thought he could do better,” Don said. “If it wasn’t for Kenny, there would be no Michael.”
Michael agreed with his father: “I always compared myself to (Kenny). Who wouldn’t want to do what their older brother was doing and try to do better at it?”
Just as Kenny had done, Michael made a name for himself in high school in wrestling and football due to strength and determination.
As a freshman, Dormady was already mature enough that Beeson swung him up to varsity at the end of the year.
“You could tell when he was a freshman that he was a kid who was going to be a good football player,” Beeson said. “It seems like he’s been playing with us forever.”
Dormady also showed physical maturity on the wrestling mat. He wrestled at 160 pounds and, because Kenai didn’t have a junior varsity team, he typically went up against juniors and seniors.
“I got beat up at 160,” Dormady said. “It was a good experience because I got to learn what it’s like. I got to learn what you have to do to win.”
One of the things Dormady decided he had to do was get stronger. He started lifting weights near the end of his freshman year and has been an avid weight lifter ever since.
“One of the reasons he is so successful is because he is so much stronger than other kids his size,” said Beeson, who teaches Dormady’s weight lifting class. “He saw the benefit of his older brother doing the same thing, so he works hard in the weight room.
“He’s one of those kids you love to see have success because he’s done it the right way.”
Boyle calls Dormady one of the strongest individuals he has ever met. Boyle said Dormady is so strong that he’s able to have success at 189 even though his size dictates that he should be wrestling at 171.
“If you look at him, he’s more the size of a 171-pounder than a 189-pounder,” Boyle said. “Football is his first priority, so he wants to stay at 189. That’s something we totally support.”
After Kenai’s football squad had nothing but success his first three years, Dormady was one of the main players tasked with keeping tradition alive this year after the departure of the talented Class of 2006.
“As a captain, I learned to keep everybody in line and to keep everybody focused on goals,” Dormady said.
The Kardinals stayed in the playoff hunt until the final week of the regular season, when they lost to eventual small-schools state champion Soldotna.
In wrestling, Dormady has the task this year of trying to beat Chugiak’s Cayle Byers, a state champion last year at 171. Byers pinned Dormady on Saturday at the North/South tournament. Dormady points out that he also was pinned early in the season by Wade last year.
After wrestling, Dormady will compete in soccer for Kenai. He took up the sport at Kenai as a sophomore after he sat around the previous spring and figured he should be doing something to stay in shape for football.
Dormady, who is in the National Honors Society, will then take his 3.7 grade-point average and go to college next fall. Dormady’s parents, Don and Janet, think so much of raising their kids in Kenai that when Janet’s job was transferred to Anchorage three years ago, the family decided to have Janet commute so the family could stay here.
“We’ve sacrificed to keep the kids here, and it’s the reason our children are doing so well,” Don said. “They have this stable environment to work in.
“We looked over Anchorage and the Valley, and we said there’s no way we’re moving our family from here.”
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