Multi-sport standouts James Kellenbence, a recent graduate of Naples American High School, and Nicole Lassetter, who just finished her junior year at London Central High School, have been selected as Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe athletes of the year.
James Kellenbence, Naples American
James J. Kellenbence’s mom shook him awake in his Colorado hotel room to tell him the good news.
The Naples American High School graduate was chosen as the Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe male athlete of the year.
“There’re so many people [in Germany] I thought would get it. So I just kind of sat there awhile, shocked,” said Kellenbence, 18, in a telephone interview from Colorado, where his family recently moved.
Kellenbence has varsity letters in baseball, soccer, wrestling, cross country and football.
His favorite sport is wrestling, and he was the European tournament MVP after winning the 135-weight class this year.
His final match was a memorable one.
“They must have stopped it five times,” he said. “My opponent’s nose wouldn’t stop bleeding, there so much blood everywhere. It was gross. They finally taped his nose shut so it wouldn’t bleed anymore.”
Kellenbence has a lengthy résumé. His numerous honors include winning the Golden Boot Award for most soccer goals scored three straight years, and being named Naples American High School Athlete of the Year 2001-2002.
The high honor student graduated third in his class.
He’s lived in several states, Paris and Naples, where his father, Wayne, an Air Force colonel, worked at the Allied Forces Southern Europe NATO base. His mom, M.J., taught high school math.
James wil be entering the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs next week.
He wants to be a fighter pilot like his father.
“I grew up around Air Force bases, hearing the engines roar,” he said. “I love it.”
Nicole Lassetter, London Central
Nicole Lassetter capped off her junior year at London Central High School by being named the female athlete of the year for Department of Defense Dependents Schools in Europe.
She could not be reached for comment.
The multi-sport athlete proved she is a woman for all seasons, earning most valubale player awards in both volleyball and basketball and then winning two European titles in track and field.
In the fall, she was MVP in both Division III postseason volleyball tournaments. She also was named all-conference and all-Europe, leading her team to the D-III title with 56 kills in the final match.
She was equally deadly in the winter, repeating her volleyball feats on the basketball court, where her team was second in the European tournament.
In the spring, she set Division III championship records in the discus and shot put, finishing her first year competing in those events undefeated.
Lassetter has competed for DODDS schools in Iceland and Okinawa, winning honors at each stop.
Lassetter plans to spend the summer playing 30 to 40 games in a basketball league in Dallas, Ore., where her brother is a coach.