Nestled in the mountains of the San Bernardino National Forest is Big Bear, hometown of Kriss Proctor, a 17-year-old senior quarterback whose life tales are filled with enthralling moments.
He wakes each morning and inhales fresh, crisp, invigorating air. At night, he gazes at the Milky Way.
On most weekends, he goes wake-boarding at Big Bear Lake. Come the cooler weather, he'll head to the slopes for some snowboarding.
If he wants a snack, he'll sometimes go fishing for rainbow trout.
"You cut it, chop off the head, put them right on the barbecue, peel off the skin and eat it once you get it off the bone," he says.
He's an honor student at Big Bear High. No matter the season, he's a standout athlete.
Proctor, an All-Southern Section quarterback who also plays safety and kicks, also averaged 11.6 points a game as an all-league forward in basketball and batted .487 as an all-league center fielder. He plays golf once a week and was a soccer player for seven years.
Four times a year, he visits the local elementary school to speak to second graders as part of a program called Peace Builders. Yes, he gets to join in rousing games of "Duck, Duck, Goose" and "Freeze Tag," but the 6- and 7-year-olds mostly just want to climb on his back. At 6 feet 2 and 180 pounds, he gladly obliges.
But more important, he serves as a role model and gets their attention when he passes on a simple message.
"We tell them to praise people and don't put people down," he says.
Stanford is recruiting him to play defensive back. Princeton wants him to play quarterback.
But the local fire department, sheriff's department or even the Marines might want to recruit him too, because there aren't many teenagers better at handling pressure.
Proctor thrives in tough situations. He made a 37-yard field goal last season as time expired to beat Twentynine Palms.
In a semifinal playoff game against San Bernardino Aquinas, with his team trailing by 10 points and three minutes left, Proctor threw a touchdown pass, kicked the onside kick, then stripped the ball away from an Aquinas player. He drove Big Bear down field, scoring the winning touchdown on a quarterback sneak with 30 seconds to spare.
And he hardly lost his breath, though his parents and others were left emotionally drained.
"I was a wreck, wreck, wreck," his mother, Sandy, says. "He's always been like that, even as a little kid. He's an easygoing guy. After the game, he comes up, gives me a big hug, 'Well, how did I do, Mom?' "
Proctor's bedroom is filled with athletic gear and shoes for all occasions, from bats and balls to snowboards, wake-boards, fishing rods and golf clubs. He also has a drum set and guitar.
"He loves his music," his mother says. "His uncle taught him to play drum and guitar. He doesn't know how to read music, but he can play. I don't know if the neighbors like it."
ERIC SONDHEIMER / ON HIGH SCHOOLS
Big Bear's Kriss Proctor thrives under pressure
The All-Southern Section quarterback, who also takes part in a variety of outdoor activities, has been instrumental in some last-minute wins for his team.
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