Archive » May 10, 2012
Dunn's McKibbin pushes himself to limit
By Willis Jacobson, Staff Writer
It takes a lot to leave Bryce McKibbin exhausted.
A football and baseball standout at Dunn School, McKibbin is also one of the top cyclists on the Santa Ynez Valley Cycling Club’s junior race team and has competed in several marathons and triathlons. As a testament to his endurance, he follows up football or baseball practice, depending on the season, four days each week by hopping on his bike for a 20-mile spin – and that’s on the easy days. The other three days each week, he does even more.
“It’s nuts,” said Dunn athletic director Phil Martin, who has also coached the school’s 8-man football team since starting the program in 2005. “He’ll run up and switch into his cycling gear (after football practice). While the rest of the guys are dogging it up to the locker room to get a shower and go to bed, this guy’s getting ready to get on his bike.”
That double duty, however, doesn’t only apply to practice.
As a freshman last spring, McKibbin was preparing for a final exam and looking forward to his team’s opening-round CIF baseball game that afternoon when he received a text message that would alter his already-cluttered Friday schedule. The message informed him that his friend and cycling club teammate Matthew Honeyman was suffering from an illness and would be unable to race in that morning’s Amgen Tour of California time trial.
Honeyman offered up his spot in the race, which featured top professional riders, and McKibbin quickly accepted.
After barely making it for the start of the race, McKibbin finished with a respectable time and got little rest before grabbing his glove and heading over to the baseball field. He finished 3-for-4 in the baseball game and was substituted in the fifth inning as his team built a large lead.
“That’s the kind of stuff that Bryce is capable of doing,” said Dunn baseball coach Aaron Dorlarque.
For his part, McKibbin said he was looking forward to being subbed out of that baseball game.
“I think I fell asleep in the dugout,” he said with a laugh. “It was a tiring day, but it was an amazing day.”
The best part? “I got taken out of finals, which was nice,” he said.
That remarkable doubleheader – which he accomplished as a freshman, no less – is just an example of McKibbin’s commitment to his training and fitness goals. He is usually done with his bike training around sundown and said he is in bed sometime at the 9 o’clock hour. He likes to get up early, usually around 5:30, to get his homework done before school. “I can’t bring myself to do it at night,” he said.
It didn’t take long for McKibbin to turn heads – among both his coaches and peers – after arriving at Dunn two years ago. Martin’s wife, Janele Martin, gave her husband a heads-up that he was about to get an exceptional athlete after she taught McKibbin’s elementary physical education class. Janele, now a water polo and diving coach at Santa Ynez High, could see McKibbin’s talent and drive even then.
“She identified him as one of the best athletes in the Valley when he was a fifth-grader,” Phil Martin said. “I’m always apprehensive, though. I like to see who shows up in the fall. When they put on the helmet, then we’ll assess what kind of talent we have and go from there. Well, day one, as a freshman, I turned to our senior leadership and I said, ‘Guys, Bryce has got to carry the ball.’ They said, ‘Yep.’”
As a running back, McKibbin racked up a couple of 200-plus yard rushing games and was one of the team’s leaders on offense. He will be moving to quarterback this fall, where Martin said the soon-to-be junior will have unprecedented freedom in the team’s spread-option attack.
“It’s going to be on him for most of the plays,” Martin said, noting he hasn’t ever given that much control to a player and likely won’t again anytime soon. “We’re going to take the offensive calling kind of out of the game and he’s going to call it for us. It’s a lot of control and responsibility, but I know he’ll figure it out in a hurry.”
As a football player, McKibbin said he is in somewhat of the same mold as Jets quarterback Tim Tebow. His coach, though, said he compares better to another Heisman Trophy winner, Redskins rookie Robert Griffin III, who “can get to the outside and beat somebody to the edge and still throw it over their head.”
On the baseball diamond, McKibbin bats leadoff and is the team’s primary shortstop and closer. He is batting .316 this season and has a team-high on-base percentage of .690. He also leads the team – which just clinched its second straight Condor League title – with 20 runs scored and a 0.81 ERA.
“He’s the ideal leadoff guy, because he’s really fast and he’s aggressive on the bases and he knows what he’s doing,” said Dorlarque, adding that McKibbin sets the tone for the team. “Some guys are naturally gifted. He’s naturally gifted and he works hard, so you get the best of both worlds as a coach.”
Although he still has two years left of high school, McKibbin is already looking toward his future. He said he would like to go to college to study sports medicine or become a physical therapist. Ideally, he said, he would like to work as a physical therapist for a Los Angeles-based professional sports franchise.
“That’s still a ways off, but it’s interesting how focused he is on the body and being physically fit,” Dolarque said. “It’s in his DNA to both want to be that person and also help other people. He’s a go-getter. He has a maturity level that’s pretty remarkable for a sophomore.”
In the near future, though, McKibbin is focused on helping the baseball team get as far as it can, as well as on the state cycling championships later this month. In 12 races since the start of the school year, McKibbin has 11 top-10 finishes and five wins in his age group. He got a bit of a boost recently when he happened upon a chance encounter with one of his favorite athletes. McKibbin said he was riding in Solvang a couple months ago when he noticed seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong running near the Alisal golf course.
“I just pulled up next to him and talked to him for a little bit,” he said. “It was super cool.”
As for his future goals at Dunn, McKibbin said he likes to keep it simple.
“I try to just be a lot better than I was the year before,” he said, “train more every day and just become more of an athlete.”