When Lane Sutherland was interviewed as an incoming freshman at Coast Union in 2012, his goal as a student athlete was to polish his game over four years to a level that would open the door for him to perhaps get a scholarship to play baseball at the college level.
Having excelled in sports at Santa Lucia Middle School, he felt confident enough in his raw talent to set the bar high and project that he could, conceivably, even play baseball at the professional level.
But time brings perspective, and when the senior sat down for an interview Sunday, Dec. 20 — after receiving the Defensive MVP award for his efforts on the 2015 Bronco football team — he was talking more about academics than baseball or football.
“As of now, I really want to get the academic part of college together,” he said. And if a college offered him a scholarship to play baseball, he would consider it. But he made clear his main goal is to attend Cal Poly and major in city and regional planning in the Architecture Department.
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Asked what his chances were in terms of being accepted at Cal Poly, he said he had sufficiently good grades and that he was very hopeful.
In hindsight, Sutherland’s answer was providential, because the next day, Monday, Dec. 21, he received confirmation that he had indeed achieved early acceptance from Cal Poly.
His inspiration to bear down and stick to his studies came from his sister Makai, who was six years older.
“She was really prominent in academics, and that’s how it was for me,” he said. “Our parents never had to push us, but they were there for us when we needed them.”
On the subject of his parents, Seth and Rene Sutherland, Lane was asked what it was like to have his mom and dad attend every baseball and football game, both at home and on the road.
“Reflecting on it right now, it’s just the coolest thing. Every game, they were there. My mom’s the nicest lady I know, and my dad is so cool and supportive of everything I do.”
Our parents never had to push us, but they were there for us when we needed them.
Lane Sutherland, Coast Union football Defensive MVP
There was no hesitation in Sutherland’s answer when asked about his favorite coach in any sport at any time. “My dad,” he said with a wide smile. “He has gotten me to every point I’ve gotten to in my life. In sports, he’s been there for me in my highs and my lows. He was my coach in T-Ball and soccer.”
Sutherland said he’s very proud to have been awarded MVP on defense for the Broncos this fall. His aggressive, instinctive defensive skills — along with his ability to bull through a tackle on offense when needed — were especially important to the team in the final four Coast Valley League games.
Against Shandon (Oct. 9) he scored twice; in the Valley Christian Academy game (Oct. 16), he made seven tackles and recovered two fumbles; on Oct. 23 versus Cuyama Valley, he made nine tackles; and on Oct. 30 against Maricopa, he had six tackles, scored two touchdowns and recovered a fumble.
Sutherland’s best football season was his sophomore year under coach Charlie Casale. The Broncos compiled an 11-2 record in 2013 and reached the championship game because the team was heavily stocked with talented seniors — along with a sophomore named Sutherland.
He carried the ball 177 times that season, blowing defenders out of the way with his battering-ram ferocity and his powerful, constantly churning legs. He gained 1,390 yards, scored 15 touchdowns and made 58 tackles.
In baseball last season, Sutherland hit an impressive .404 in 19 games; he had 10 RBI and 21 hits for the Broncos. His slugging percentage was .519, and he stole 14 bases in 16 attempts.
Come this spring, he will be in his fourth year playing baseball, and he knows seniors need to provide leadership for the younger players.
“It’s important for us to reach our goals together,” he said. “We will be a scrappy team, as Coast Union always is. If a player isn’t doing his job right, the older guys should show him a better way.”
Sutherland plans to take part in a baseball skills camp next summer at Cal Poly, but now that his academic agenda is in place, baseball may well take a back seat to academics. The line drives and booming doubles he is known for are likely to fade into his youthful past while he burns the midnight oil on the courses required of a city and regional planning major.
This report is special to The Cambrian.