The alarm rang at 5 a.m. on most fall mornings — an alert for Dalton Schoen to pop out of bed, head to the gym and lift weights. The workout lasted an hour, and after a quick shower, Schoen drove to Blue Valley Northwest for a day of classes and football practice.
It was dark before he returned home, leaving only a few hours to complete his homework. He took the occasional break, though that probably isn’t an accurate description of his time away from textbooks.
During football season, Schoen had to skip the offseason baseball and basketball workouts, and so to stay sharp, he engaged in a series of late-night exercises in his unfinished basement. Swings off a tee. Dribbling drills on the concrete floors.
Back to homework. The clock often reached midnight before he finally shut down his computer, crawled into bed and set the alarm again: 5 a.m.
“He has the busiest schedule I think I’ve ever seen, but I think that’s the fun of it for him,” his mom, Kristi, says. “He doesn’t see any other way to do it.”
And here’s the real kicker: He excelled at all of it.
In an era when the three-sport athlete is a dying breed, Schoen proved to be an anomaly. He received all-state status in football, basketball and baseball in his senior season with Blue Valley Northwest — all while maintaining a perfect academic record.
In four years of high school, he never got a B. Not one.
Schoen, who will attend Kansas State, is The Star’s male Scholar-Athlete of the year.
When Schoen was 6 years old, he begged his father, Kelly, to let him mow the lawn. After three years of nagging, Kelly finally relented.
It became Schoen’s favorite hobby — until the lawnmower broke. Kelly ordered a new cable to fix it, but he left for vacation on the day the part arrived.
He returned a week later to a repaired mower.
“I had left my parents to watch Dalton, and when I got back, I asked my dad, ‘Wasn’t that pretty hard to fix?’ ” Kelly says.
His father’s response: “Not for me. I just watched Dalton. He did the whole thing.”
Schoen says he has always been fascinated by how things are put together, and he plans to major in mechanical engineering at Kansas State.
He toured 17 campuses, including Harvard, before settling on Kansas State, which he determined offered the best combination between its football and engineering programs.
Schoen had a handful of offers to play Division II or Division III football, but he has opted to try to walk on with the Wildcats. His parents attended Kansas State, and his brother, Mason, successfully walked on to the basketball team.
It’s about more than the athletics, though.
Schoen built daily routines around squeezing three sports into a 24-hour period, but he saved some free time for volunteer work.
He took part in Harvesters, a program to feed needy people in Kansas City. He volunteered with the Special Olympics. He served as a peer mentor for freshmen at Blue Valley Northwest, a program for which he was selected twice.
That work was recognized last winter, when he was selected one of six national finalists for the Wendy’s High School Heisman award — an honor reserved for students who best excel in the classroom, on the field and in the community.
“That has Dalton’s name all over it,” Blue Valley Northwest principal Amy Murphy says. “Dalton is a quiet kid, but in a school with a lot of great students, he still manages to stand out.”
Early in his freshman year, Schoen vocalized his plans to be a multisport athlete. More than a few people — including one assistant coach — told him it wasn’t doable. He would have to settle on one, perhaps two.
That deliberation didn’t last long.
“I couldn’t imagine giving any of them up,” Schoen says. “And with most people telling me I couldn’t do it, I kind of wanted to prove them wrong.”
Besides, three sports was already a bit of a sacrifice.
Schoen was a football, basketball and baseball athlete in high school, but it was actually his youth soccer coach who implemented special rules for him. To even the playing field, Schoen was allowed to score goals only with his left foot.
In grade school, he once played on three different basketball teams in one season. Multitasking, in other words, wasn’t an issue.
Excelling in sports wasn’t new, either.
As a sophomore and junior, he came off the bench for back-to-back state championship basketball teams. He started at guard his senior season and made the all-state team.
Last spring, he was the primary center fielder for the baseball team, and he batted .431 for the season. Another all-state selection.
In his first football game last fall, after a summer of splitting time between all three sports, he caught 12 passes for 380 yards and four touchdowns against Bishop Miege, the eventual Kansas Class 4A Division I champion.
The yardage set a Kansas high school record for a single game.
“Because of the way he trained for other sports, he could step onto the field and be ready to go,” Blue Valley Northwest football coach Mike Zegunis says.“He always had that competitive streak going.”
A poster hangs from the mirror in Schoen’s bedroom. In purple script, Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder’s “16 Goals for Success” are splashed across the glossy print.
Schoen sees it every day.
“I’ve wanted to play for coach Snyder since I was a little kid,” he says. “I can’t imagine what that would be like.”
As a walk-on, he began practice with the Wildcats on Monday. He thinks he has a legitimate shot to earn a spot on the roster as a 6-foot-2 wide receiver, though he isn’t naïve.
It’s far from a guarantee.
“He’s got an uphill battle trying to walk on to a Division I school, especially one of that caliber,” Zegunis says. “But he is too competitive, too disciplined and has too strong of a work ethic to go down easy.
“No, I would never bet against Dalton Schoen.”
BLUE VALLEY NORTHWEST
Ranks 28th in a class of 389 with a 4.45 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale. Received two varsity letters in football, three in basketball and three in baseball. Kansas Class 6A first-team all-state wide receiver in football. Holds state record for receiving yards in a game with 380. Played on two-time basketball state champion team. Wendy’s High School Heisman national finalist. Kansas Honor Scholar, BV Northwest student rep for Blue Valley School District Student Advisory Council and volunteer for First Downs for Downs Syndrome and Special Olympics.
College: Kansas State
Also nominated: Katherine Thill, Kate Sullivan