Sean McCormick may be the most decorated athlete in Greenwave history.
On the gridiron, McCormick was voted the 3A Northern Nevada Player of the Year in his final two seasons, including the State Player of the Year last fall after leading Fallon to its second state title in four seasons. On the wrestling mat, he became the first Greenwave to win four state titles to go along with two All-American honors in his final two years. On the diamond, he finished his career as a first-team all-state outfielder after Fallon came up short in the state championship two months ago.
But his parents, Tom and Missy, made it perfectly clear that their son needed to take care of business in the classroom.
“Sports is only going to take you so far but your education is going to be what allows you to live a comfortable life,” McCormick said. “Definitely the toughest challenge was time management. Of course, nobody wants to spend hours doing homework but that is what will separate you in life. You might have to miss out on something here and there but at the end of the day, your education is more important.”
McCormick, who was named a Top 10 student-athlete by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, is this year’s Lahontan Valley News Male Athlete of the Year.
“Although athletics are a huge part of my life, I want to be remembered as more than an athlete,” McCormick said. “I want to be remembered as a kind and respectful man who gave 100 percent effort in everything that I did.”
While McCormick more than succeeded in the classroom, it was his actions on the football field that garnered the majority of the attention in his four-year career.
He started his high school football career on the freshman team but was called up to varsity when Fallon won its first state championship since the Triple Crown era. Fans got a glimpse of what he could do on the field and the next year, as a sophomore, he exploded as a versatile running back and receiver, and frustrated the opposition as a defensive back.
But one of the biggest highlights of his career came two years ago when he stepped in for an injured Elijah Jackson, the sophomore quarterback who was sidelined for the last two-thirds of the season.
“To take a kid who hasn’t played quarterback — he was first team all-state as a quarterback — it was not just his athleticism and hard work but his level of intelligence and understanding the game was second to none. That was obviously very special,” Fallon football coach Brooke Hill said.
Hill, though, pointed out Fallon’s goal-line stand in the state championship win over Truckee last fall followed by McCormick’s durability late in the game as a defining moment of his career.
“That state championship game after the goal-line stand in the fourth quarter and we proceeded to give him the ball 10 straight times,” Hill said. “To put the game away behind your best player, he wasn’t tired. We didn’t score on that drive but we ate up clock. We put it on his shoulders and he took it home.”
McCormick is the first to admit that his career was never about the individual accomplishments although they were a nice perk. Rather, it was about creating an electric team atmosphere, which was evident during the 2018 state football title run.
“What I loved the most about football was the importance of team accountability,” he said. “In other sports, it is not quite as essential for everyone to come together but in football, if everyone isn’t completely bought in, then you are just setting yourself up to fail. Eventually, the kids who aren’t committed will be the difference between winning and losing a game. This year, I was lucky to be a part of a team where everyone put the team in front of their own personal desires.”
With wrestling, the buy-in happened during his freshman year when Fallon won its first state title. Fallon had better participation during McCormick’s first two years after it finished second at state during his sophomore year.
But it was McCormick, and his younger brother, Tommy, and fellow senior Ben Dooley who led the program the last two years. All three were undefeated in the postseason, capped off with state titles in Las Vegas in 2018 and Winnemucca five months ago.
“The bottom line is hard work and toughness,” McCormick said about the recipe to his success. “Sure, talent is great to have, but almost every time the person who wins the match is the kid who is tougher and worked harder. Winning four state titles wasn’t just done in high school, either. It was hundreds of hours of wrestling and conditioning. It was traveling all over the nation just to wrestle the best competition and it was believing that you were going to win every single match, no matter who you are wrestling. You can never be certain of anything but if you work as hard as you can and believe that you are always going to win, then you will be a very successful wrestler.”
Trevor de Braga coached McCormick in all three sports as an assistant in football and baseball and the head coach in wrestling. De Braga said McCormick’s work ethic stood out as he wanted to be the best in everything, including his final sports season with the baseball team.
“Sean is the type of kid that makes you want to be a coach,” de Braga said. “Even being at the top in football, baseball and wrestling, he is always striving to get better. He is very coachable and his hard work is world class.”
And his world-class work ethic is already back on display.
McCormick reported to camp at the University of Idaho last month as he begins a full-ride scholarship to play football for the Vandals.
“They were the first school that believed in me and offered me to play football. I could get a great education and I thought they would be a perfect fit for me,” McCormick said about his choice. “My goals are to finish my first year with a 4.0 grade-point average and get a fair amount of playing time. I feel that I am plenty smart and talented to be there and if I work as hard as I can, then I will accomplish my goals.”