Kate Deaton’s biggest passion was in track and field, but the National Trail standout found interest — and success — in volleyball and basketball, too.
Her 6-foot-1 post presence was key in the basketball team’s success and a perfect fit for the volleyball team’s front-line attack.
But many say the best attributes about Deaton were her work ethic and her down-to-earth personality.
“Another great thing about her was she was a valedictorian, so she not only did it on the track and on the court, she did it in the classroom,” Trail track and field coach John Lickfelt said. “I think that really speaks well of her work ethic, her character. She’s a great kid.”
Deaton is the second finalist for the Palladium-Item’s 2014 Myyon A. Barnes Athlete of the Year series.
“Obviously a three-sporter, she did very well in volleyball and basketball,” National Trail athletic director Mick Ditmer said. “Of course her passion was track and she really put a lot of emphasis on the disc, and obviously, that paid off for her because she did extremely well.”
Deaton was a three-time Cross County Conference champion in the discus, two time regional champion and qualified for the state twice in the event.
She was fifth in the OHSAA Division III discus state finals as a junior and was sixth as a senior, despite throwing an inch farther than the year before.
“I was really excited to throw at state,” Deaton said. ” … Being on the podium was a really good experience. It was really nice, I got to finish off my high school career that way.”
The way Deaton started her track and field career was an interesting one, too.
Deaton said she also played softball in middle school, before electing to focus on track and field in high school.
But even then, she hadn’t quite found her niche.
She said she threw discus and shot put, but also competed in high jump, long jump and ran some relay races.
By her sophomore year, she said she noticed the potential she had as a thrower.
“It wasn’t until the conference meet until we kind of started to realize I had potential,” Deaton said. “We started researching and watching YouTube and contacting people who knew more about throwing the discus.”
Weight programs and offseason workouts pushed Deaton to a personal record of 140 feet, 2 inches, she said.
She threw 136-6 at state as a junior and 136-7 this past spring.
“Athlete-wise, she’s probably one of the top to come out of Trail in its history, as far as everything she tried,” Lickfelt said.
“As her coach, I was extremely proud of her. I know she didn’t throw as well as she would have liked — she didn’t throw bad by any means — but I think when she gets up to Ohio State, she’s going to get a lot more individualized coaching. I think she’ll pick up and really excel when she gets out there.”
Ditmer said Deaton is the first Blazer to sign for Ohio State since Park Pittman, who was drafted by the Minnesota Twins, played baseball for the Buckeyes.
Deaton will start new with the Buckeyes, where she said she expects to throw hammer, something she has done for leisure, but never in competition.
She plans to study agriscience education.
“When she starts throwing it every day, she’s just going to take off,” Lickfelt said. “At the Preble County meet, they have that. It doesn’t get you any points, but they have it as a competition and she threw, I think, about 104, 105.”
While volleyball and basketball weren’t her primary sports, Deaton still found success as an all-CCC second-team selection in volleyball and first-team selection in basketball.
She helped the Blazer basketball team finish 10-2 in the CCC as a junior and 16-9 overall, its best season since 1997.
“Obviously she was kind of a go-to girl for us,” Trail girls basketball coach Troy Ferguson said. ” … She was a good overall athlete as far as footwork and being agile and being able to run the floor.
” … Obviously defensively, just being 6-foot tall, that can be intimidating to other players and obviously it helped her rebounding-wise. Overall, I think her work ethic will do her well as she gets ready to move on to Ohio State.”
Deaton added: “I’m just really blessed and really happy that God gave me the talents, he’s given the ability to use them and all the support I’ve had from my family, friends and coaches.”