O‘Dea’s Tony Flor is The Seattle Times male athlete of the year. (The Seattle Times)
It all began in frustration for Tony Flor.
He’s the youngest of three boys with one younger sister, and baseball is the popular spring sport in the Flor household; the boys all playing football in the fall. But by the third grade, Tony had enough.
“I was really, really bad at baseball. I’d strike out every time,” he said with a laugh. A switch to lacrosse led to Flor to graduate from O’Dea in May as one of its best multisport athletes.
Captain of both the Irish football and lacrosse teams, Flor helped lead both to state-championship games and a Metro League title in football. He was also named Defensive MVP and an All-American in lacrosse.
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For his accomplishments, Flor is The Seattle Times’ Male Athlete of the Year.
“I’ve been doing this a long time,” said O’Dea football coach Monte Kohler, who’s entering his 32nd season and also coached Tony’s older brothers. “Tony is one of the best leaders we’ve ever had at O’Dea. And without a doubt, we would not have had the season we did without what he did on the field but more importantly as a captain. He was always prepared and made sure everyone else was prepared, which made my job pretty easy.”
Flor’s success probably could have been predicted. He’s been around the football program since being a ball boy at age 8 when his oldest brother Sam joined the team.
Every season, Tony would design his own custom O’Dea jersey and intently go about his duties at practice and games while idolizing the players, including Sam and then Jack Flor when he played for O’Dea. Tony even shared the heartache when the Irish advanced to the 2011 title game and lost.
Vying for his own trophy, Flor, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound lineman, had five total tackles in O’Dea’s championship game last fall. The Irish (13-1) missed a game-winning field-goal attempt with three seconds left in regulation, then lost 14-7 in overtime to Kamiakin.
“Growing up and seeing the passion everybody had fueled my passion,” said Flor, who had a school-record 38 solo tackles last season. In the classroom, he carried a 3.65 GPA and is undecided about where he’ll play in the fall. Sam played for Washington State, while Jack is a middle linebacker for the Air Force Academy.
Tony Flor helped build the lacrosse program as a freshman. He introduced the sport to some of his football teammates in its inaugural season, and in four years O’Dea made the title game. Lacrosse isn’t a Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) sport, and this season it was voted that the private schools would play in a separate championship game from the public schools.
O’Dea lost 18-2 to Eastside Catholic in its first title game. A defender, Flor averaged 3.5 forced turnovers per game as a senior.
“He’s one of the best defensemen in the state,” said Irish coach Drew Snider, who’s also a two-time Major League Lacrosse champion for the Denver Outlaws. “As a program, we’re four years into it and we’re already playing in a championship game. We want to continue to establish ourselves in Washington state as one of the top programs and Tony’s leadership has helped us do that. He’s set a foundation.”