Doing things the Timberwolf way
Tualatin High School.
It just all seems to go together. And it's definitely been a heck of a combination.
But it's not just baseball. Dernedde has also shined on the football field at Tualatin.
It's been special — Dernedde certainly thinks so.
"It's meant a lot to me," Dernedde, a 2019 Tualatin High School graduate said last week as he sat in the home dugout of the Timberwolves' varsity baseball field. "Growing up here, I got to see what it meant to be a Wolf. There is a great culture here. It's special. There's a lot of history at this school."
Dernedde has been a big part of that history.
In football, after getting a small taste of varsity play as a freshman, the 5-foot-9, 180-pound Dernedde took over as the Timberwolves quarterback, starting at least part of the season the last three years. As for baseball, Dernedde has started at shortstop for four straight seasons, and he owns many Tualatin single-season and career records, including the all-time hits mark.
"It's been amazing to be part of those teams for four years," Dernedde said with a smile. "It's been a learning experience, and it's been really special."
It's been special for those around him, as well.
"He's the model student-athlete," Tualatin High School football coach Dan Lever said of Dernedde. "He's an extremely high-character young man. He represented our program, and the school, with class. He's one of those kids you look at, and you want your kid to be like him."
"Kyle has been a pleasure to coach. He's an unbelievable player, but an even better person," Tualatin baseball coach Jake Austin said. "In today's world, it is rare for a kid that has had Kyle's success to stay humble and grounded like he has. He plays and leads with what I call quiet confidence. Those are just a few of the reasons he is liked and respected by his teammates. He always has put the team ahead of himself."
The respect for Dernedde even seems to carry across rivalries.
"I've known Kyle since eighth grade," said Fletcher Ahl, a 2019 Tigard High School graduate who has competed against Dernedde on the football field and baseball diamond. "He, and his parents, are super nice. As a competitor, he's tough. He's the guy that we always have to think about. He's a fast, athletic kid."
As for honors, Dernedde gathered plenty of them during his senior year, earning All-Three Rivers League and Class 6A All-State accolades in both football and baseball. Dernedde also was a National Football Foundation, Oregon Chapter, Scholar Athlete Award winner.
Now, Dernedde has another honor, as he's been named the Times' Athlete of the Year from Tualatin High School. The honor goes to the top senior-class athlete, as seen by the Times, at the school for the 2018-2019 school year.
"It's been an amazing four years," Dernedde said with a smile.
After getting a taste of varsity football as a freshman (he was brought up from the junior varsity team to punt for the Wolves in the state playoffs), Dernedde jumped into the mix full-time as a sophomore. He began that season as Tualatin's kicker and backup quarterback.
But that also was a season where the Wolves had to endure an unexpected coaching change right before the start of the season.
"That was kind of a rough season," Dernedde said. "There was so much stuff off the field, but it brought us together. It was up to us to figure it out, and we were able to work our way through the season."
Dernedde ended up taking over the starting quarterback spot near the midway point of his sophomore season.
"I got thrown into the fire, but I learned quickly," he said.
That spring, Lever was named Tualatin's new varsity football head coach.
"He wore a suit to the first team meeting," Dernedde said. "He told us that was because he was married to the program. He started a family here in Tualatin, and it was special to be his quarterback."
That year, with Dernedde at quarterback most of the way, the Wolves went 7-4 and reached the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs. Despite missing two and a half games due to a concussion, Dernedde was a second-team All-Three Rivers League selection at both quarterback and kicker, and an honorable-mention pick at punter.
Dernedde, and the Wolves, had high hopes going into the 2018 season. Dernedde got off to a flying start to the season, throwing two touchdowns in each of Tualatin's first two games, wins over Southridge and Oregon City. But, near the end of the Oregon City game, Dernedde suffered a high sprain of his medial collateral ligament.
The injury kept him out of action for four weeks.
And, even when he got back, the Tualatin coaches slowly worked Dernedde back into action at quarterback. For the rest of the season, the Wolves used a combination at quarterback, with Dernedde and Tualatin senior-to-be Blake Jackson, who stepped up at quarterback in a big way when Dernedde was injured.
"It was a challenge at first to figure that out," Dernedde said. "But, through adversity, I found out that the coaches were really there for me."
For the season, where Tualatin again went 7-4 and reached the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs (where the Wolves lost a controversial 28-21 overtime game to Central Catholic), Dernedde completed 41 of 63 pass attempts for 580 yards and eight touchdowns, with three interceptions. He also ran for 78 more yards and a touchdown.
But Dernedde might have been even more valuable as a kicker and punter for the Wolves. He was a first-team All-Three Rivers League pick at each of those positions. He also was a Class 6A All-State second-team selection as a punter and honorable-mention pick at kicker.
"I looked up to Nathan Suyematsu (a 2012 Tualatin graduate, a former kicker/receiver for the Wolves and a 2012 Times' Athlete of the Year)," Dernedde said. "That started my interest for kicking."
No matter what he was doing, Dernedde proved to be a big weapon for the Wolves.
"He'd do everything," Lever said of Dernedde. "He's a kid who was a great leader. He was a phenomenal kicker, and a very good quarterback in our scheme. Everyone on the team had a ton of trust in Kyle. He's an awesome young man."
Dernedde also put his name in the Tualatin football record book. He holds the school's record for touchdown passes in a game, when he had five TD tosses (completing 14 of 20 passes for 229 yards) in a 53-0 win over Battle Ground, Wash., in the second game of the 2017 season.
"I really enjoyed my football experience at Tualatin," Dernedde said. "I'm really going to miss it."
Tualatin High School certainly seems to have a deep baseball tradition. The Timberwolf program has produced many top high school players — Mitchell Lambson, Mark Lambson, Jacob Bennett and Karter Cook, just to name a few.
But an argument could be made that Dernedde just might be the best of them all.
"What makes him special is his drive to be great," Austin said of Dernedde. "Kyle has made a lot of sacrifices to become the person and player he is. Most kids want to accomplish the things Kyle has but they are not willing to make the sacrifices it takes to get there. He is the most self-driven player I have ever coached."
Dernedde's drive started during his freshman season at Tualatin, when he became the Wolves' starting shortstop.
"I was presented an opportunity to play all four years," Dernedde said. "And I was fortunate to have been able to play every day and compete every day. I played with, and against, a lot of great players."
While Dernedde shined for the Tualatin baseball team all four years, he very well may have saved his best for last. As a senior, leading a mostly inexperienced team, Dernedde helped the Wolves go 16-11 and reach the Class 6A state playoffs.
"We had a lot of seniors, but we didn't have a lot of varsity experience," Dernedde said. "We lost a lot of arms from the year before, and I don't know if people expected a lot out of us. But we won a lot of close games. I think that's a testament of how hard we worked."
While the Wolves may have had some question marks going into the season, one place Tualatin knew it would be solid was in the infield, with seniors Jett Searle, Gavin Moore and Cameron Springer, and, of course, Dernedde at shortstop.
"I love it," Dernedde said of playing at shortstop. "It's like being the captain of the infield. I think we had one of the best defensive infields around. And Cameron (Atkinson) was super effective pitching, and Blake (Jackson) was great behind the plate."
Dernedde was also a weapon batting at the leadoff spot for the Tualatin lineup. For the season, he hit for a .440 batting average, with 40 hits in 91 at-bats. He also had 10 doubles, eight triples, two home runs, 31 runs scored and 21 RBIs.
Dernedde also excelled on defense for the Wolves.
"He is known as one of the best defensive shortstops in the northwest," Austin said.
Dernedde was a unanimous All-Three Rivers League selection as an infielder, marking the fourth straight year that he's earned first-team all-league accolades.
"To be first team all four years is special, but it's not easy," Dernedde said. "But I think I earned it."
Dernedde also was a unanimous Class 6A first-team All-State pick as an infielder this spring.
Dernedde also put his name in the Tualatin High School baseball record book — over and over again.
He's the Timberwolves' all-time leader in base hits with 124, beating the old record of 107, set by Bennett.
"That means a lot to me," Dernedde said of the record.
He's got more school records, such as: single-season at-bats (98), career at-bats (339), career RBIs (72), career doubles (31), single-season triples (8), career triples (11), career walks (54), career fielder percentage (.918) and career runs scored (92).
"As a player, Kyle is very dynamic," Austin said. "He has been a great role model for our program. It is great for young players to see what it takes to get to the next level."
Whether it be on the football field or baseball diamond, Dernedde knows he always has some special fans cheering him on — his parents, Mark and Mary Dernedde.
"They've done a great job supporting me," Kyle Dernedde said. "They're here rain or shine. They've hardly missed a game. I think that's really important. Without strong family support like that, it's hard to be motivated. When you have that, it makes you feel comfortable and allows you to have fun."
Dernedde is an only child, which, he says, sometimes brings up a certain question.
"Some people ask me if I'm spoiled," he said. "I would say no. I think my parents have done an amazing job raising me."
And, Kyle Dernedde said, he's learned some important lessons from his parents.
"They taught me to give respect to my opponent, and to always work hard," he said. "My dad taught me to treat other people the way you want to be treated, and that effort equals fun."
Following a Dream
Dernedde will continue his scholastic athletic career at Oregon State University, when he signed to play baseball for the Beavers.
And that certainly wasn't a spur-of-the-moment decision.
"That's definitely been a dream of mine for a long time," Dernedde said. "We've had season tickets for Oregon State football for as long as I can remember. There are pictures of me, when I'm just a little kid, running around on that field. This is a huge dream come true. I've always said I want to be a Beaver one day."
Of course, it's safe to say that Oregon State has built a strong baseball program.
"Talk about tradition," Dernedde said. "Especially in baseball. It's going to be cool to be a part of it."
And, Austin says, Dernedde is set to do big things at Oregon State.
"We are all excited to see him continue his career in Corvallis," Austin said. "With his skills and make-up I am confident he will continue his successes at the next level."
While there is excitement with moving on, there's also a bit of a bittersweet aspect to it.
"I'll miss Tualatin," Dernedde said. "It's an amazing community. And, luckily, it's not too far away. And Corvallis is a lot like Tualatin, with so much support. I feel like I'm blessed to get to live in two amazing communities."
Corvallis. Baseball. Kyle Dernedde.
That seems to have a familiar ring to it.
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