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Modest Goals, Major Achievements : Prep athletics: San Marino's Steve Park has distinguished himself in baseball, football and academics. Soon he'll be going to Stanford.

June 03, 1993|GARY KLEIN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

SAN MARINO — For an athlete who will leave high school with numerous awards for academic and athletic achievement, Steve Park had modest goals when he began classes as a freshman at San Marino High.

"I didn't really see myself doing anything outstanding athletically," Park said. "I just wanted to play on the varsity, be on the teams and be successful."

Park will graduate later this month as, perhaps, the most successful student-athlete in the state.

Park, 17, carries a 4.46 grade-point average (on a 4.0 scale), having completed course work and passed advanced-placement tests in calculus, English, Spanish and chemistry. He was selected All-Southern Section as a receiver after helping San Marino reach the Division VIII championship game, and is a three-year starter at shortstop for the defending Division IV Titan baseball team, which lost to Yucaipa, 4-3, Tuesday in the semifinals.

Last month, the California Interscholastic Federation selected Park as scholar-athlete of the year.

"I was aware of the award last year because my friend was a finalist," Park said. "I thought it was great for him and I was hoping that it was something that I could achieve for myself."

Park, 17, has achieved just about everything he has strived for at San Marino.

At 5-foot-9, 160 pounds, he is hardly intimidating on the football or baseball field. But last fall, Park caught 56 passes for 1,054 yards and seven touchdowns. He was also named defensive back of the year in the Rio Hondo League. This spring, he is batting .452 with two home runs and 29 runs batted in.

Park's football career will end in June with his participation in the San Gabriel Valley Hall of Fame all-star game at Citrus College.

When he attends Stanford in the fall, he will try to make the Cardinal baseball team as a walk-on.

"One of my goals this summer is to gain a little more weight, but more importantly, I want to improve my strength and my quickness," Park said. "I need to work on a lot of my baseball skills because I've been playing shortstop all my life, but second base is my natural position in college because of my size."

Park has developed into an excellent high school shortstop under the tutelage of Mickey McNamee, who is in his 30th season as San Marino coach. The Titans have won four Southern Section championships under McNamee. Last year, San Marino defeated Temecula Valley for the Division IV title.

"(McNamee) built a winning tradition here, and the players who come here want to keep it that way," Park said. "Players step up to another level here. He makes you want to win."

San Marino won the Rio Hondo League championship again this season. The Titans advanced to the semifinals with a 9-7 victory over Atascadero and entered the week ranked 13th by The Times among all City and Southern Section teams in all divisions.

Park entered Tuesday's semifinal against Yucaipa hoping for a chance at one more championship before going off to Stanford, where he will study human biology with hopes of becoming a physician.

Last summer, Park volunteered at a hospital to familiarize himself with the medical profession and came away from the experience inspired to achieve.

Every high school student has talents, Park said. Freshmen, especially, should take advantage of every opportunity to discover their own.

"My advice would be, 'Don't limit yourself,' " Park said. "There's a great number of fields that a person can excel in, especially at the beginning of high school when you can explore.

"A lot of people limit themselves and concentrate on one thing. I think you should do as many things as you can and that you can handle. You may have to narrow your focus as you go on, but you should keep your options open at the beginning."

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