There are those who live life as it comes. There are others who try to shape their own destinies.
And then there's Brian Fleming, a senior wide receiver, safety, kicker and punter at Laguna Hills High School, who, at times, lives life as it were some kind of animated cartoon.
"He's quite a character," said Paul Weinberger, Laguna Hills coach. "Brian has an effervescent personality, to say the very least. His body language says it all."
Last week, Fleming's arms, legs, hands and heart did the talking as he led Laguna Hills to its first win, a 26-21 victory over Pacific Coast League defending champion Orange Saturday night.
Fleming, The Times' Player of the Week, caught 9 passes for 111 yards, including a 15-yard game-winning touchdown pass with 1:16 remaining.
Fleming scored two touchdowns, made five solo tackles, kicked two extra points and averaged 53.8 yards in 5 kickoffs. He also kicked two field goals, including a 41-yarder that broke his previous school record of 40 yards set last year.
How did Fleming manage all this? "Well, since it was the Orange game, I drank a lot of orange Gatorade," he said. "I was going to run some oranges over with my car, but I didn't have any."
Getting a serious answer out of Fleming is almost as challenging as defending him on a passing play.
One minute he's describing the thrill of catching Saturday's game-winning pass amid four defensive backs. The next minute he's revealing his penchant for jumping off walls. Without warning, the discussion turns toward the problems of organizing doughnut-eating contests during lunch.
As the school's comissioner of boys' athletics, Fleming relies on his rapid-fire creativity to spark school spirit with pep rallies and student assemblies.
"I'm into the spirit thing," he said. "I guess it comes naturally."
Fleming said that to encourage Hawk spirit, he wears red, white and blue face paints to school "just for fun," sings to students via a portable microphone during lunch and wears an assortment of mohawk-styled wigs during pep rallies.
But Fleming isn't all fun and games. He has a 3.9 grade-point-average in the school's honors program, and he says senior math analysis is his favorite subject. He also plays varsity volleyball and soccer, and he earned league most valuable player honors in soccer last spring.
This season, Fleming leads the county with 49 receptions for 758 yards. He has scored 9 touchdowns and kicked 3 field goals and 10 extra points for a total of 73 points.
In a game against Santa Paula two weeks ago, Fleming set an Orange County single-game receiving record of 307 yards for Laguna Hills (1-4-1, 1-0).
"Brian's the kind of guy you really want to see have success," Weinberger said. "He enjoys life to the fullest. He has one of those unconquerable personalities, and it rubs off on the team."
Fleming agrees, though he sees it a bit differently.
"I believe in living life to the fullest and all that," he said. "But really, I'm just looking out for what's best for me. If I couldn't do any sports or student body things, I'd be down at the beach, selling seashells by the seashore. I'd go crazy if I wasn't involved in something all the time."
Laguna Hills High School
Positions: Safety, wide receiver, kicker, punter.
Height, Weight, Class: 6-2, 190, Sr.
Last Week: Fleming caught 9 passes for 111 yards (12.3-yard average), scored two touchdowns, kicked two extra points, averaged 53.8 yards in 5 kickoffs and broke his own school record (40 yards) with a 41-yard field goal.
Season: Fleming has caught 49 passes for 758 yards; scored 9 touchdowns, made 3 field goals and had 10 extra-point kicks for a total of 73 points. He also has two interceptions and has averaged 50 yards per kickoff.