A kid who definitely demands attention

September 10, 2012 

I’m not a big fan of kids. They tend to be sticky and loud, and are always trying to get your attention while you’re watching football and stuff on TV.

Most of the time, I do my best to ignore them (I’m pretty good at that) until they are quite literally jumping up and down in front of the TV, begging to be fed or something.

But there is something about this Summer Yates, this 12-year-old at McLoughlin Middle School, that really bothers me.

Just who does she think she is? Winning the “women’s” race at the Pasco Little Cross last weekend, posting the 27th fastest time overall in a field 103 men and women — and yes, boys and girls.

That takes a lot of gumption, and with that kind of energy, imagine how long she can jump before you actually get out of the easy chair to nuke some pizza rolls. Her folks are never going to outlast her.

So I called up her parents and asked them, What kind of kid are you raising?

I got hold of Blake Yates over the weekend as the family was making a trip to Seattle. Blake and his wife Kandy are frequent visitors to the west side — no doubt they like to take in sophisticated ambiance of Washington’s metropolitan area, but mostly they watch Summer practice and play soccer.

That’s right. Turns out running isn’t even Summer’s No. 1 sport; it’s what she does to stay in shape for her No. 1, soccer.

“She won’t ever come out of soccer games,” Blake said of his daughter, who starts at forward for the A squad of the Elite Player Developmental team, which takes the top 40 kids in the state at each age group and divides them up into two traveling teams.

Based in Seattle, the team practices once every couple of weeks, and then a couple times a week closer to big tournaments.

That is in addition to Summer’s club team, plus the soccer she plays in the summer against boys.

Summer has always been a good athlete, her dad says, scoring a 105 last year on the Pacer Test used to measure phsyical fitness in gym class. That’s a pretty solid score for a high school athlete, super hero-like for a grade-schooler.

Distance running, her dad said, is just something she took up for fitness and — get this — stress relief.

“We live by a cross country course, and she used to run on the course, and it made me nervous so I would run with her,” Blake said. “We’d make a couple of laps. But then she joined the cross country team at middle school, and she’s running with them more. I could kind of tell I was holding her back.

“Demoralizing.”

That’s right, folks. Not only is this kid taking the starch out of grown up runners who are strangers, she’s doing it to dear ol’ dad.

The horror.

But Summer’s ultimate goal is not to crush the spirit of other runners — that’s just a side benefit. Nope, Summer’s got her little heart set on playing soccer in the Olympics.

Does that make her Hope Solo’s No. 1 fan? Not really. Summer is more into small players who score the ball. Brazilian sensation Marta comes to mind, and she flat idolized Chiawana’s Erin Huisingh.

And here’s a tip: When you’re out there pounding that pavement mile after mile, and you start to hear footsteps coming up on your six, don’t look back.

It might be some 12-year-old super-kid, and she might be running you down in soccer cleats.

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