Overlake student athlete shines bright | Reporter Male Athlete of the Year

Dean Poplawski, a three-sport star and standout student at The Overlake School, is the Redmond Reporter's 2011-12 Male Athlete of the Year.

As a three-sport athlete and a standout student at The Overlake School, Dean Poplawski knows about the importance of making adjustments — and a big one looms large for the recent high school graduate.

For the last four years, Poplawski has spent every day after school at some sort of sports practice. His daily sports fix will soon be replaced by the academic rigors of Stanford University.

“One of the things I will have to adjust to is not being part of a team in college,” said Poplawski, who plans to play intramural or club sports when he goes off to Stanford in a couple of months. “Literally, every day after (high) school, I’ve gone to a practice.”

Poplawski graduated from Overlake with 12 varsity letters after playing five different sports, including golf, a sport he played competitively for the first time last fall.

In his first season on the golf course, Poplawski showed great natural skills and quickly became a team leader for the Emerald City League champion Owls. During the winter basketball season, he led the league in scoring for the second straight year and earned a spot on the Class 1A Washington Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association (WIBCA) All-State team. He capped his illustrious sports career last month as a key member of the Owls’ soccer state-title team.

“Everything turned out perfectly,” Poplawski said. “I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

The 18-year-old scholar athlete can add another accolade to his resume after being named the Redmond Reporter’s 2011-12 Male Athlete of the Year.


Poplawski also proved his all-star status in the classroom after earning a spot at Stanford, the alma mater of both his mother, Kim and father, Eddie.

“It’s very amazing to me what he has accomplished during his time at Overlake,” said Overlake basketball coach Justin Prohn. “You name it he has done it. Also, just going to Stanford, what an achievement.”

Poplawski decided to turn out for golf in the fall after soccer was moved to the spring season.

“I played golf in the past for fun, but never on a team,” he said. “It was a fun thing more than anything. It was different from anything else I’d done.”

Poplawski helped the Owls to the league championship and he was one of six Overlake golfers who advanced to the district tournament, which was held last month at Gold Mountain Golf Club in Bremerton.

During the winter, Poplawski was a first-team, all-league player on the basketball court and scored a career-high 33 points in league playoff win against University Prep. The victory gave the Owls their first league playoff berth since 2006. In addition, Poplawski became third member of Overlake’s 1,000-point club, finishing his career with 1,050 points. His achievements during the basketball season earned him a spot in the all-state game, where he scored 12 points in helping the 1A team defeat the 2A team.

Poplawski’s crowning moment came in the spring when the soccer team won the Class 1A state title. Poplawski scored eight goals and collected 11 assists to earn first-team, all-league honors as a midfielder during the championship season. He showed his all-around athleticism and team-first mentality when he was inserted as goalkeeper — a position he played in his younger days — for the penalty-kick shootouts in the state semifinals and finals. He delivered big time, blocking four penalty kicks in the two games, including three in the semifinals, to help the Owls claim their first state title since 1996.

“It was definitely the way to go out,” Poplawski said. “There was a lot of hype going into the soccer season. Our expectations were set pretty high. I think we all deserved it.”

“Overlake soccer coach Bob Bristol said Poplawski “is one of the most fluid players I have coached, always seeming to know where to turn to avoid pressure or attack a defense.”

“He is just a complete player,” Bristol concluded.


It’s no surprise Poplawski has excelled in sports as he grew up in a sports-minded family. Both of his parents played sports in high school and his older brother, Danny, 21, plays baseball at Georgetown University. His younger brother, Matthew, 17, plays basketball at Lakeside School in Seattle and also plays on a team for the Redmond-based Crossfire Premiere Soccer Club.

Dean said growing up, “everything was a competition, no matter what.” Dean credits his older brother with his improvement and development in sports.

“Danny definitely helped me improve in whatever it was — both in my mindset in how I played to technical skills,” Dean said.

Dean said his second-best experience at Overlake was when he played with his brother Danny on the Overlake basketball team when he was a freshman and Danny was a senior.

“The state championship (in soccer) definitely tops that,” Dean said.

Both Matthew and Danny attended Dean’s commencement ceremony last weekend as Dean put a bow on his stellar career at Overlake.

“I will miss his smile and positive attitude and his respect for his fellow teammates,” said Overlake golf coach Doug Weaver. “I have no doubt that Dean will be a big success with whatever he chooses to do in the future.”