Incline senior athletes Brendon Steinmeyer, Erick Rodriguez and Kyle Reeves look a whole lot more at home on their respective fields of play than they did in the school hall last Thursday.
Embracing their roles at the center of attention the best they could, the trio of standouts graciously conducted interviews before signing their college letters of intent in front of multiple television cameras and proud parents on a makeshift press table by the Highlander mascot.
“I’m in a state of euphoria right now,” said a dapperly dressed Rodriguez, who will play soccer at Division III Nichols College in Massachusetts. “I’m feeling great. I’m really happy I made this decision. It’s a big step forward in my career.”
While Rodriguez will head across the country, his soccer teammate, Reeves, as well as Steinmeyer, are sticking closer to home. Reeves committed to play soccer at William Jessup University in Rocklin (Calif.), while Steinmeyer will play football at Sierra College, also located in Rocklin.
“It’s only a couple hours away,” said Reeves, “so I’ll be able to come up on the weekends and my parents will be able to come down and see my games.”
Steinmeyer, who played multiple positions for the Incline football team the past four years — and played them well — will attend Sierra College as an invited walk-on to punt.
“I’m extremely excited. To be able to play college football has been my dream since I started playing football,” said Steinmeyer, donning a cardinal Sierra College Football shirt.
Focusing on one position will be a new experience for Steinmeyer, who starred for the Highlanders as a running back, linebacker, punter and kicker. Listed at 5-11 and 155 pounds his senior season, the aggressive, quick-footed player made plays all over the field, on both sides of the ball.
“I don’t think he ever came off the field,” said Incline football coach Scott Conn. “That says a lot, to go both ways for the entire game. As a punter, when he got one off, it was deadly. He could kick it 60 yards. Any time we got backed up deep, Brendon was good for booming us out of it.
“He was also energetic and very, very fast — fast, and scat-back quick. Once he got going he was very difficult to bring down, because he could move laterally so well.”
Steinmeyer said he hopes to major in culinary arts and move on to a Division I or Division II college to punt. He said he feels ready for the challenge, stemming in part from his important, multi-purpose role with the Highlanders.
“I grew up my whole life around football, and this is my 11th season playing. So I think playing at this high school prepared me well, particularly with getting a lot of playing time as a punter and running back and linebacker,” he said.
In a way, it’s almost a shame that Reeves and Rodriguez will not be able to work together as the lethal offensive punch they were for the Highlanders — Rodriguez a speedy and talented, goal-scoring machine, and Reeves a determined and skilled forward with an uncanny nose for the goal.
“I am very proud of both of them,” said Incline soccer coach Tom Canino, who has coached both players since their first year of club soccer as youngsters.
Canino described Rodriguez as a high-effort player with the ability to beat his opponent with sheer speed and quickness. He recounted one particular play that defined this ability.
“Erick’s signature play for me was a goal he scored a couple of seasons ago when we were not a very good team and were facing Whittell, at Whittell,” Canino said. “Erick refused to accept mediocrity against a traditional rival. Erick took in a pass on the offensive end and turned around his defender two or three times before firing a shot from the left side of the goal that bent into the high right corner of the goal. Both the ball moves and the shot were representative of Erick’s game.”
About Reeves, Canino described him as a big, strong, physical player who inflicts his will on the game.
“No one play has defined Kyle more than the last one he made as a player for Incline High School,” Canino said. “Within seconds of the whistle that started the overtime in the 2012 state championship match, Kyle ran down a ball in the offensive end of the field and scored the golden goal that ended the game. That play was representative of the kind of effort Kyle put on the field every time out. He is a skilled soccer player, but what gives him an edge against equal competition is that he just wants it more than the other players on the field.”