It’s rare to find a high school student so mature, so grounded, so accomplished.
Yet have a conversation with Trey LaNasa, and the Fort Walton Beach senior seems to have that “it” factor.
LaNasa is a man of many titles: Eagle Scout, student body president, straight-A student, Florida Wendy’s Heisman winner, state-renowned long-distance runner bound for the University of Florida and the senior class’ “Most Likely to Succeed” honoree.
Yet none of the those monikers define him.
“In life you can’t be good at just one thing,” LaNasa said. “I like to be well-rounded. Basically I may not be the best at any one thing, but it’s all about that balance.”
The balance is what drew the All Sports Association to select LaNasa for yet another title: Male Scholastic Award Winner, an honor that encompasses academic, athletic and philanthropic successes.
“It’s such a fantastic award,” he said. “I’m just extremely honored to be a part of the many great athletes that have come before me.”
The award will be presented Feb. 13 at the 46th annual All Sports Association Banquet at the Emerald Coast Convention Center, a spotlight LaNasa called “Wendy’s 2.0.”
He’s referring, of course, to his December trip to New York City for the Wendy’s High School Heisman presentation, where he met Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper and Wisconsin tailback Melvin Gordon and unofficially finished second from an original pool of thousands of the nation’s most philanthropic, smart and talented student athletes.
So he understands the magnitude of sharing the stage with dignitaries like Pete Rose, Danny Wuerffel, Wuerffel Trophy winner Deterrian Shackelford and a who’s who of past honorees.
Academic-wise, it’s counterintuitive to even mention LaNasa’s nearly flawless GPA, which was listed nowhere on his submitted transcript.
“I’m not even in the top five,” explained LaNasa, who had no chance at salutatorian or valedictorian after spending his freshman year at South Walton before transferring to Fort Walton Beach. “I don’t care about class rank. I’ve always approached school as learning what I want to learn. Like my choice to take speech and debate classes and P.E. courses. There’s the rigor of AP classes and then the balance of creative classes that I enjoy.”
LaNasa made a B once, way back in the eighth grade for a high school-level class. That’d be the lone blip on a transcript featuring an SAT score of 1510, an ACT score of 33 and a slew of 4s and 5s on AP exams.
Yet more than an academic, he wants to be remembered as a good classmate and — above all else — an ambassador to a program in which he cares so deeply.
“I’m my own person, so I didn’t want to go to a school of people who are exactly like me,” he said. “School, to me, was all about the relationships and connections I made. Fort Walton Beach had that diversity, which is what drew me to the University of Florida. There’s so just much diversity and things I can’t wait to experience.”
And he’ll take his running shoes with him.
The man who pushes 4-minute miles and 15-minute 5ks will join former Niceville standout Thomas Howell in the Gator longdistance arena following a prestigious prep career of postseason medals and allarea team bids. At the same time he’ll juggle what he assumes will be an industrial engineering major — what he calls a dual degree splitting business and engineering — to precede his ultimate goal of earning a Master of Business Administration.
Yep, just another title for a man who seems to have it all.
Seth Stringer is the sports editor for the Northwest Florida Daily News. He can be reached at (850) 315-4421, on Twitter at @SethSnwfdn and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org