When it comes to making repairs, building houses and other hands-on work, Alex Sloan prefers to know how to take care of things himself.
It's a mindset he learned from family while working for his uncle this summer at Yakima Mechanical and spending past summers building houses with his grandfather. Naches Valley football needs some repairs this fall after losing several talented seniors, so coach Ty Kime will call upon Sloan to show off his versatility.
"It's kind of a rare work ethic with today's kids, kind of willing to do anything and everything," Kime said. "But always a kid that I never have to worry about doing it right."
The young Rangers need someone to step up and fill big holes left by all-SCAC West performers Dakota Voss at running back and Sean Coyne at safety. Sloan believes he's ready for the challenge after starting at wide receiver and cornerback as a junior last season.
He's developed a strong sense of accountability from summer work at Yakima Mechanical, primarily fixing HVAC systems and machines used for the Yakima Valley's hop harvest. That translates nicely into a well-rounded life as a student-athlete who holds a 3.8 GPA while playing football, basketball and sprinting and high jumping in the spring.
"I try to get all my homework done during school so I can just do practice, get done with that," Sloan said. "Then go home after practice and then have dinner with my family."
Ranger Prep, a daily 45-minute study hall, typically gives him all the time he needs, allowing Sloan to make the most of his free time. That often means camping at places like Bumping Lake, where Sloan enjoys hiking high enough for views of Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens.
Kime said Sloan's never idle, and he's always willing to include anyone. Teammates often join him on trips to the weight room and into the wilderness.
"He takes freshmen to sophomores to juniors," Kime said. "To him it doesn't matter what grade they're in or what sport they'll play, either."
Sloan also finds room in his schedule for FFA and the Honors Society, and he'll sometimes go to the local elementary school to read books to first-graders. When he's not playing basketball or working out for football on weekends in the summer, Sloan can often be found mowing lawns or doing other yardwork throughout the community.
Perhaps it's all those different activities that make Sloan confident in his ability to change roles this fall for the Rangers. He especially enjoys covering opposing wide receivers in man-to-man coverage, and Kime said the Rangers need to put the ball in Sloan's hands more so he can provide some stability for a team in transition.
It's not clear yet what his future holds, but he should have plenty of options.
"I kind of wanted to go to Perry Tech, but I'm not really sure what I want to do," Sloan said. "I think the first thing I've got to do is I like building houses."