June 22, 2001 11:00 pm
DRIVE TO SUCCEED: Be it track, football or basketball, Powder Valley's Brody Turner drove himself to be the best he could be this school year. (The Observer file photo/C.J. GISH).
DRIVE TO SUCCEED: Be it track, football or basketball, Powder Valley's Brody Turner drove himself to be the best he could be this school year. (The Observer file photo/C.J. GISH).

Brody Turners competitiveness was not going to keep him out of Powder Valley High Schools Sept. 22 football game against Harper-Huntington, despite a two-week-old concussion.

The Badger junior just about went nuts the week before, when Powder played Lacrosse-Washtucna of Washington state in Echo. He couldnt stand to stand on the sidelines and not play, so he snuck his uniform, pads and cleats on the bus to Huntington.

He gets down there and pretty soon he shows up dressed, then-Powder Valley football coach Dan Willitts said. And I said its not gonna work.

Hes always been a tenacious football player. I dont know how to describe it any other way. Theres no doubt in it.

Turner hates to lose, and that desire to win turned him into a three-sport star this season and made him The Observers Male Prep Athlete of the Year.

Turner led his football team in scoring en route to the state championship game. He was the second-leading scorer on Powders fifth-place state basketball team. And he won the 400- and 800-meter runs and was part of the winning 1,600-meter relay team at last months state track and field championships.

Each of his coaches swears by his competitiveness.

One word that I think of when I think of Brody is hes a competitor, said basketball coach Blake Jones. Hes going to prepare himself to be competitive in whatever he chooses. Hes extremely determined. Nobody outworks Brody.

Turner is already lifting weights for football season, spending his nights after work in the schools weight room.

I just hate to lose, he said. Im going to try to do whatever it takes to win. During track season, I catch myself slacking off, and I get scared really easily when I think people are getting up to my ability level.

He had only practiced a week and a half before the football season-opener against Condon. He had hardly played when he got hit in the head at a bad angle. Diagnosis: concussion. Treatment: no football for two weeks.

I had a headache for a couple of weeks. I just really nursed it and made sure I was at full health, Turner said. It was kind of a letdown for me because I didnt think I could get hurt. I had a couple of weeks to think about it and know I wasnt invincible.

When he did return to the game in the Old Oregon League season opener against Crane, he caught a 73-yard touchdown pass and returned an interception 88 yards for another touchdown. A week later he scored four touchdowns against Prairie City.

He finished the season with 19 touchdowns, 573 yards rushing and 613 yards receiving.

Basketball is his favorite sport of the three, and that season was more of the same. He averaged 15.4 points per game and was an honorable mention all-state selection.

An early season loss to Jordan Valley motivated him to play better.

It kind of set me back down and made me work a little bit harder, he said.

When Jordan Valley and Powder Valley met again, Turner scored 17 points and made a game-tying free throw with 14 seconds to play.

Even though he was a junior among a group of talented seniors, Turner fit in nicely in the family-like atmosphere on the team.

Hes always played above his level as far as class-wise goes, Jones said. As a freshman he came into a district ballgame and made some critical points for us in a critical situation.

He works very hard to perfect his individual skills, whether its his sprinting in track or his shot in basketball.

Turners family has always motivated him to work that hard. His father, Don, has been his greatest influence.

Ever since Ive been able to walk hes been getting me to carry footballs and carry basketballs, he said.

is brothers motivate him, too. Silas graduated from Powder Valley in 1994, and Kip in 1999. Coy was a 1993 graduate of La Grande High School but played football at Powder Valley because they lived in the district.

Its always a constant one-on-one battle, Brody said.

Kip won a state basketball title in 1994 and Brody wanted one, too. But when it came to the state tournament, I dont know, I didnt think I did as well as I could have.

The Badgers had wanted the triple crown state titles in football, basketball and track. They were second in football, fifth in basketball, but track was theirs to lose. Turner wasnt about to be outdone in track.

As far as track athletes, hes one of the better ones Ive ever had, track and field coach Doug Lewis said. Hes got the ability to really break through. When Brody really breaks through is when he focuses on one sport.

That may happen in college. Lewis believes Turner could be a good decathlete because of his ability to master whatever he tries. At 6 feet, 170 pounds, hes not big enough to play football or basketball at the collegiate level. But his best 400 and 800 times this season would have placed him in the top six at the Cascade Collegiate Conference championships that Eastern Oregon University competed in last month.

He has just as much potential to achieve great things in track, Lewis said. Hes got enough natural ability, and he just works incredibly hard.

Dont expect him to slack off his senior year.

Theres been so many people Ive watched have success over the years. They have success early and then slack off in their junior and senior years, and Im not going to let that happen.

Story by Pat Perkins