When it comes to team-bonding exercises, most kids choose to spend a night at the movies, go mini-golfing or catching waves at Lake Tahoe.
But not Eric Endacott.
He not only excelled in athletics, but also in the classroom and in the community.
The result: being named one of the Top 10 Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association’s Northern Student-Athletes for 2014 at a banquet last week in Reno. The award is given to those student-athletes who exemplify total school and community involvement.
With the cross-country team needing that “push” to climb past the hurdle of qualifying for the state meet last fall, the senior multi-sport athlete and running enthusiast went a little out of the ordinary. Bringing in his experience from being a boy scout, Endacott mentioned to coach Mitch Overlie about sending the team on a weekend trip to the Sierra Mountains where the boys and girls teams would run trails, learn about camping and bond together before classes began the following week.
“At first, the idea was kind of crazy because I’ve wanted to go in a very, very remote spot,” Endacott said. “I’m a boy scout and I’m use to not being around a toilet or running water. After that, everyone thought it was a good idea.”
The accommodations weren’t bad, either. Bathing facilities were available, as was space, and there was a museum. And the weather was a breath of fresh air, in contrast to the 100-degree heat in the Oasis of Nevada.
“It was actually kind of cold. It rained one day,” Endacott said. “The heat didn’t bother us at all. It was really nice. It was great, actually, running into woods.”
The idea was in the works for a couple seasons but last August, Overlie and the team followed Endacott into the wilderness and came out better people and runners. The goal was not to become state championship runners but to give the team another way to have fun while getting into shape for the upcoming season.
“It didn’t get us in shape but what it really did is helped us bond,” he said. “We were more like a group of friends running for each other and a goal. It helped us train harder. We were running for each other and it helped us work harder as a team.”
Two months later, the boys cross-country team qualified for the state team championships for the first time in 42 years.
By how much?
“He found his sport in cross country. He loves the outdoors and the physical test of running,” Overlie said. “Erik never lacked heart or intelligence. He is, by far, the most inquisitive student-athlete I have ever coached. He really shined making it to state as an individual and helping the team qualify for state in cross (country), but those accolades are no comparison to the dedication, toughness and perseverance he shows in the classroom.”
His idea of taking the team to Donner Lake for a weekend getaway before school showed the kind of student-athlete Endacott has grown to become in his four years at Fallon.
“I was not expecting it at all,” Endacott said about the NIAA award. “The only thing I remember is I got it the day before it was due. My guidance counselor told me about it and I applied for it last March.”
Endacott excelled not just in cross-country but also tried his hand in other sports, including wrestling and track, before a prolonging hip injury sidelined him from running this spring. Instead of calling it quits and focusing 100 percent on school, Endacott jumped into the pool and is now swimming for the Wave.
“Erik has been a terrific role model and leader in the Fallon community,” Fallon athletic director Brad Daum said. “He is an exceptional example of what qualities a student-athlete should possess. Erik has shown a tremendous amount of energy, dedication and commitment in the classroom, on sports teams, and in various school activities and organizations.”
Outside of the playing field, Endacott is just as adventurous and excels with any attempt. Whether it’s being the pep club secretary, leading a group of boy scouts or serving as the president of the Christian Leaders on Campus Club, Endacott caught the attention of his peers and colleges across the country. He also possesses a 4.81 and 3.89 (weighted) grade-point average and took a majority of Advanced Placement classes, including chemistry, which he scored the highest possible on the AP test, a 5.
Endacott said science teachers Keith Sluyter and Steve Johnson helped quench his thirst for science, leading to a pursuit for a career in agriculture.
“I could just ask him questions whenever and he doesn’t get sick of me,” Endacott said of Sluyter. “(Mr. Johnson) made me realize my talent for science and encouraged me. I don’t think I would have taken AP chemistry if he didn’t tell me I was pretty good at it and that I would do well in that class.”
After drawing interest from Wisconsin, Purdue and Michigan State universities, Endacott will attend Iowa State University and has already been accepted into the Honors Program. The similarities to Fallon’s agricultural setting plus the financial assistance lured Endacott into jumping two time zones for college.
“They have a really great agriculture program and it’s also in a rural area,” said Endacott, who will pursue bachelors and masters degrees in agriculture biotechnology. “The people are farmers and I’ll probably get along with them. They offered me a whole lot of money. Their school takes care of their kids a lot.”
With his degree, Endacott wants to make the same difference with Third World countries as he did with the cross-country team last year. His goal is to help dig into the roots of food production shortages and give those people better resources.
“It’s one of the best ways to help that country,” Endacott said. “I want to help countries grow food without a lot of resources or money.”