Not only did Bryan Stopar rarely take a season off, but the recent DeSales High School graduate made himself so indispensable in three sports that he hardly got a play off, either.
Stopar bucked specialization, playing football and baseball for four years each and basketball for three. But it was his academic efforts that recently earned him two $1,000 scholarships from the Ohio High School Athletic Association, which he will use toward his studies at Otterbein University.
"He's a little bit of a throwback," Stallions football coach Ryan Wiggins said. "Kids nowadays specialize in football, basketball, baseball, what have you, and Bryan was always going with something from season to season. He hardly ever came off the field for us. I really like guys like Bryan."
The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Stopar, who is from Westerville, plans to major in physical therapy and play baseball for the Cardinals.
The OHSAA awarded $55,000 in college scholarships to 49 recent graduates. Recipients were selected by special committees within each of the six OHSAA athletic districts based on a point system that rewarded students for their GPA, ACT or SAT scores, varsity letters earned and individual and team athletic honors.
Stopar also earned the Spirit of Sport scholarship, which goes to the highest-ranking scholarship recipient in each district.
Stopar played offensive tackle and defensive end in football and was a four-year letterwinner in baseball, in which he was a pitcher, first baseman and outfielder. He was a forward on the basketball team for three years, but had planned to skip his senior season to focus on baseball even before tearing his left ACL in the second-to-last game of the 2013 football season.
"If I couldn't have played baseball as a senior, it would have crushed me," said Stopar, who was special mention all-state in football last season. "That was my motivation the whole time I was recovering. I was cleared two weeks before the season started."
This spring, Stopar batted .367 with 29 hits, six doubles, one home run and 13 RBI, and was 2-3 with a 4.50 ERA, 15 walks and 20 strikeouts in 32 2/3 innings.
Stopar saw considerable playing time as a freshman and sophomore, when the Stallions won back-to-back Division II state championships. He was 3-2 with a 2.15 ERA in six starts as a sophomore.
"There aren't too many four-year letterwinners here, and I think Bryan took a lot of pride in having the chance to do that," said baseball coach Tom Neubert, who also is DeSales' athletics director. "When he was younger, he didn't have to be a leader. He could just play. But he was an important part of the team even then. He was one of our top hitters as well as one of our top pitchers. He was always dependable."