Levi Jordan doesn’t blow by you on a football field or on the basepaths – or even blow you away with extraordinary numbers.
What he does is far more important among a class of Puyallup High School seniors that will leave as one of the most decorated in school history.
He wins. And he leads.
That is why he was selected by an overwhelming margin as the school’s senior athletic scholarship winner. And that is why he is The News Tribune’s 2013-14 All-Area male senior athlete of the year.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
“Calmness and belief,” Vikings baseball coach Marc Wiese said. “That is the type of true leadership he gave.”
And yet as he moves on to the University of Washington on a baseball scholarship, Jordan might be the one highly accomplished athlete in the South Sound few know.
He certainly knew how to make plays. Over the past two season, no receiver in the South Puget Sound League 4A caught more touchdown passes (25), nor did any defensive back haul in more interceptions (nine).
Had Jordan not suffered a concussion and missed two games, the All-Area first-teamer easily would have eclipsed the 1,000-yard receiving mark last season (53 receptions, 949 yards in eight games).
Puyallup football coach Gary Jeffers called Jordan “the most instinctive” player he has ever coached in 21 seasons.
And in baseball, statistically Jordan did not have his best season, hitting .312 with an on-base percentage of .361. But he did score a team-leading 34 runs, steal nine bases and make the All-Area second team at shortstop.
Jordan could have scored 80 runs and hit .500, and you likely would not have heard a peep out of him.
“Throughout all my years in sports, my motto … is showing humility,” Jordan said. “I am not a player who will brag or boast about how good I am. I hate talking about myself. I kind of like to stay in the shadows.”
Jordan’s parents, John and Susan, made sure he played all kinds of sports at a young age. He was a very good basketball player, eventually giving it up competitively in ninth grader. He is hard to beat in pickleball. Heck, one of his favorite activities is a thing called “ball hockey” — or hockey played on a sports court with hockey sticks and a wiffle ball.
Baseball quickly became his favorite sport. He played for a number of Puyallup youth teams, notably the Puyallup Jaguars and Puyallup Cardinals, that were coached by his father.
“Baseball is a game of failure,” Jordan said. “I was taught very young, you are allowed to get frustrated at the things you can control — like if you are not doing something the right way. But when you hit a ball hard but right at someone (for an out), why would you be frustrated?
“So I have always been an ‘attitude’ leader. In the dugout, if I am having an 0-for day, I can always find some other way to help out the team.”
Being vocal isn’t his type of thing — until the situation calls for it.
In May, just before the top-ranked Vikings opened up Class 4A regional play against Edmonds-Woodway at Heidelberg Park, Jordan got the team together for a few words.
“He was real serious, and he let the guys know it was crunch time,” Puyallup center fielder Darian Clemens said. “I mean, we were a pretty happy-go-lucky team, but when it came down to it, he showed us now was our time.”
Considering Puyallup was upset the previous year by Heritage in the regional round, much was riding on the two-game series a year later.
“When things needed to be said, he was one of our guys who came up with the words, even if it was like, ‘Hey, we’ve got this, we are fine,’” Wiese said. “Truly, it all came down to the subtle confidence he displayed, and the way he presented himself.”
Puyallup beat Edmonds-Woodway, 1-0, in the regional semifinals. Then the Vikings downed Gonzaga Prep, 2-0, for the regional championship.
The next week, Puyallup defeated South Kitsap, 7-1, to win the Class 4A state title, completing a 28-0 season. The Vikings finished the season ranked No. 3 nationally by USA Today and MaxPreps.
“He just gives you everything he has,” Wiese said. “Athletically, he has some of the best body control you’ll see. I mean, on a diving play at shortstop, he can get up in a tenth of a second and throw you out.
“If you put a stopwatch on him (running the bases), he would slightly be above average. On a vertical leap, he isn’t going to jump 40 inches. But it is his intelligence and natural sense of his surroundings that make him special.”