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Auburn Mountainview standout notches 12 varsity letters during prep career
In an age of specialization for high school athletes, JJ Lacey is an anomaly.
The 19-year-old Auburn Mountainview senior and the Auburn Reporter’s Male Athlete of the Year graduates this weekend as the school’s first student-athlete to earn 12 varsity sports letters.
Lacey, who lettered in four different sports during his four-year prep career, considered focusing on his strongest sport, basketball – for which the 6-foot-4 guard was chosen to the All-South Puget Sound League 3A first-team last season.
“It was actually very tempting to specialize,” Lacey said. “But after I got my basketball letter my freshman year, which I knew was going to be a hard one to get, I realized that if I just kept on the track, I could be the first one in the school to have 12 letters in the four years. But it was very tempting, especially being pulled many different ways (with all the sports).”
Lacey instead stuck to his plan, earning two letters in cross country, four in track and field, two in football and four in basketball, where he finishes his career No. 2 on the school’s all-time scoring and rebounding lists.
“In basketball with the new coach, I was a little skeptical about how that would turn out this year,” Lacey said. “But it turned out really well. For three years, I was playing with (former coach, Jon) Price, then (Terrance) Johnson came in. But it turned out great, it was a great year.”
The Lions finished the season as co-champions of the SPSL 3A and fought their way into the West Central District III tournament, where they finished the season with a 12-11 record.
Lacey also tasted success the past two years as a wide receiver for the Auburn Mountainview varsity football squad.
Lacey normally spent his autumns running for the cross country team. A little coercion however, from a pair of football buddies changed his mind.
“I actually had no desire to play football my junior year,” Lacey said. “But (Skyler White and Derek Sarrett) came to my house and said, ‘You’re playing football, let’s go.’ They just kind of picked me up. I didn’t really know what to say, so I just got in the car and went to a passing league and just never looked back. I’m really glad those two pushed me because I wouldn’t have played football otherwise. It was cool because I was a part of the two playoff years we had in football.”
In addition to his athletic endeavors, Lacey distinguished himself by staying active in school government – where he was the ASB senior class co-president – DECA and the Auburn Mountainview Service Club.
Academically, he finished his senior year with a 3.3 GPA.
“I’d like it to be a little bit higher, but with senior class president, three sports and over 300 hours of community service, that’s where my time is,” Lacey said. “I think (the community service time) was great. The way I see it, a lot of people see us as punk kids. That’s just kind of the stereotype kids get. And in some cases it’s deserved. But it was a goal of mine to show people differently.”
Now it’s on to George Fox University (Newberg, Ore.), where he plans to focus on basketball and work toward a degree in business marketing.
“I’m going down there to play basketball,” Lacey said. “I’ve talked to the track coach a little bit, but I’m not sure I’m going to do multiple sports in college. I did it in high school and that was fun, but I think now it’s time to focus on just my basketball career. It’s one of those things that you’re ready to go, but I’m going to miss my family and friends. But I’m excited to go and move out and get started studying for a career.
“I think the one thing I’m really going to take with me (from high school) is to just go for everything while you can, put it all out there and have fun,” Lacey continued. “I know it was hard and time consuming with four sports in four years. But I know 10 years down the line I’m going to look back and be so glad I did it. To be the first to letter 12 times and to set a path for my sister and my brothers.”