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Friday, June 5, 1998 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Male Athlete Of The Year / Chad Kodama, Roosevelt -- Making His Mark From The Very Start -- Tenacious Spirit Was Evident Even As A Freshman

Seattle Times Staff Reporter

Folks at Roosevelt High School realized when Chad Kodama was a freshman that he was going to be something special.

With two minutes to play against Ballard in the final football game of the season, he was at quarterback, replacing an injured upperclassman. On fourth-and-4, he ran 30 yards for a touchdown that sealed the triumph.

At a basketball practice that winter, Kodama was scoring points and grabbing rebounds almost at will. Finally, the coach hollered, "Why doesn't someone box out Kingpin?"

The nickname stuck.

As a sophomore, "Kingpin" sank two clutch free throws in the AAA Metro League championship game against Franklin.

Now he is about to graduate and he is The Seattle Times' prep athlete of the year.

"When I think of Chad, the first thing that comes to mind is intense competitor," said D.R. Clawson, former Roosevelt football coach who coached Kodama all four years. "He competes every minute of every practice and every minute of every game. I think that's what makes him special. . . . He's not going to give up, he's not going to get tackled. . . . In basketball, he may be a little undersized but he's always in there banging."

A threat to run or throw, Kodama rushed for 786 yards and 11 touchdowns last season and threw for 1,568 and 22 TDs. He completed 55 percent of his passes and was intercepted 10 times.

His career mark of 62 touchdowns is a significant school record, considering that Roosevelt sent Mark Pattison and Hugh Millen to the Washington Huskies in the 1980s.

With Kodama at the controls, Roosevelt made an offensive splash in its 4A KingCo Conference debut season, leading the league with an average of 379.3 yards a game. The Roughriders' shortcoming was stopping opponents. Their 2-7 record is explained by one defensive stat - they allowed a league-high average of 407.9 yards.

In basketball, the 6-foot-3 1/2, 205-pounder was a KingCo second-team pick after averaging nearly 19 points and about 10 rebounds.

"He's a terrific athlete," said former Ballard basketball Coach Al Harada.

The Kodamas live 2 miles from Roosevelt in Wallingford and the school has been a big part of the family's life.

"I couldn't imagine being anyplace else," he said.

His father, Cary, is a former head football coach at Roosevelt and Issaquah, where he teaches art. He was a volunteer coach on the Roughrider staff last fall.

Chad's mother, Lynn, is a Spanish teacher at Roosevelt.

"Sometimes friends come to me and say, `Your mom just gave me a D - go talk to her,' " he said with a laugh as he sat in her classroom. "I tell them, `I can't do anything about it.' "

Although Chad has never been in his mother's class, he is no stranger in the classroom.

"I come in here for lunch money and anything I need like pencils or paper," he said. "She's pretty good about it. She probably is going to miss not having a kid here next year. She's had one for five years."

Photos of her two children dominated the desk pad on Lynn Kodama's desk. Chad's sister, Kirstin, went to Roosevelt and is completing her freshman year at the University of Washington.

To no one's surprise, Chad and Stanford-bound basketball star Enjoli Izidor were picked "most athletic" in this year's Roughrider yearbook. His athletic credentials include high-jumping 6 feet as a junior in the first meet in which he attempted the event. This spring, he ran legs on the 400-meter and 1,600-meter relays, but was sidelined most of the season with a hamstring injury.

His athleticism has extended to baseball (he lettered as a freshman) and swimming (he set the Seattle summer-league breaststroke record at age 14).

Chad knows what he will play in college - football - but hasn't made a final decision where he will play. The finalists are Idaho and Western Washington.

Even though Western isn't Division I, Kodama is leaning toward the Bellingham school. Two Roosevelt buddies, favorite receiver Anthony Brown and linebacker Robert Gara, will play at Western, and his family could get to games easily.

California was the only Pac-10 school to recruit Kodama but dropped him.

"They were guaranteeing me a scholarship and then all of a sudden they called and said, `We got someone that committed. We had no choice,' " he said. "They said I waited too long."

He canceled recruiting visits to Nevada and Portland State.

Idaho wants Kodama to play quarterback. He said Western wants him to play safety or wide receiver as a freshman, then switch to quarterback.

Kodama leaves Roosevelt with some school records, a B average, a lot of memories and some self-made clothing.

One of his favorite classes was "Clothing and Textiles" and in the class, he learned how to sew.

"I made some shorts and some boxers," he said. "I also made some shirts, but I'd never wear them in public."

He did a lot of other things in public - like score baskets and touchdowns.

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Chad Kodama / bio

High school - Roosevelt.

Sports - Football, basketball, track.

Year - Senior.

Honors/highlights - Earned 11 letters at Roosevelt (four football, four basketball, one baseball as fresgnab, two track). First-team all-KingCo 4A quarterback, second-team all-KingCo basketball. Set school records with 37 touchdowns in a season and 62 in a career. Captain in football and basketball. Won basketball team's "most inspirational" award as a sophomore. MVP at holiday tournament at Mount Si High School as senior. Won 50-yard all-city breaststroke at 14.

Hobbies - Mountain biking, camping, piano, pickup basketball.

Personal - Father, Cary, is former head football coach at Roosevelt and Issaquah and teaches art at Issaquah High School; mother, Lynn, teaches Spanish at Roosevelt; sister, Kirstin, is finishing freshman year at UW.

Academics - 3.1 GPA.

College - Undecided. Will play football at Western Washington or Idaho.

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Male athletes of year

City - Chad Kodama, Roosevelt, senior - football, basketball, track.

Eastside - Tom Heier, Redmond, senior - football, wrestling, track.

North End - Benji Somoza, Edmonds-Woodway, senior - basketball, soccer.

South End - Flynn Cochran, Kent-Meridian, senior - football, baseball.

Copyright (c) 1998 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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