“Initiative is doing the right thing without being told.”
Those were the words of the French author and poet Victor Hugo.
Those are the actions of Skyler Lykins of Franklin, Indiana — soon to be of Golden, Colorado.
To listen to his teachers and coaches, those actions, within the context of initiative, have spoken infinitely louder than any words.
The recent Franklin Community High School graduate earned 11 varsity letters, four each in wrestling and cross-country, and three in track and field.
In wrestling, he was a four-time Johnson County and Mid-State Conference champion, a three-time regional champion, a four-time semistate qualifier, a three-time state qualifier and a two-time state place-winner.
Morover, Lykins was the 2014 recipient of the Ward E. Brown Mental Attitude Award at the 2014 IHSAA state wrestling championship meet.
The son of Mary Jo and Matthew Lykins, the perennial honors student ranked near the very top of 339 seniors, twice earning Academic All-State honors and the Mike Dowden Memorial Scholarship.
“I’ve always had coaches and my parents that pushed me,” Lykins said. “I always wanted to make them proud. They all said I had potential, and I wanted to live up to that.”
Through four years at Franklin, that’s precisely what he did.
“He applies what he learns,” said Beth Foraker, science department chairwoman at Franklin Community High School and one of Lykins’ favorite teachers who had him in two of her physics courses.
On a particular school day, after discussing a lesson in the physics of electrical connections, Foraker said, “He went home and rewired his truck so that the lights would flash along with the music he played.
“He is a fantastic kid all the way.”
His success in wrestling wasn’t an automatic one.
When Lykins began learning the sport under longtime Grizzly Cubs wrestling coach Bob Hasseman, he was a diamond in the rough of sorts. He needed to grow in terms of true wrestling savvy.
“He was a hard charger with not a lot of great talent then wrestling-wise,” said Hasseman, who noted Lykins often, “wrestled from behind,” but through hard work and sheer determination, made himself a stalwart in an already-stout program.
Victor Hugo would have been impressed.
“He had always been in great shape and always wanted to do his best,” Hasseman said. “He was great to coach, and he really was a great leader for our team.”
His mental attitude award speaks to that.
“I’ve wanted to wrestle ever since I was 4,” said Lykins, who appreciates the accountability individual competitors have within the framework of a team. “You can’t blame a loss on anybody else but yourself. At the same time, it’s a team sport, and the team part is more important.
“You have to be focused as a team, or you won’t survive. You have to be together.”
“The idea of team first ... we really stress that,” Hasseman said. “Our thing is the sum of the parts has to be successful.”
“He has a great legacy,” Lykins said of his high school coach. “He’s a great guy, and he’s been like my second dad. He genuinely cares about the kids he coaches.
“He even helped me with my homework sometimes.”
Soon, Lykins will be heading west to attend the Colorado School of Mines on wrestling and academic scholarships, and he will have plenty of homework to do. His major will be petroleum engineering.
Lots of local high school student-athletes go on to attend college or play sports there, but not many aspire to all of that at a prestigious geology school.
“I applied to Stanford, Texas A&M and Colorado School of Mines,” Lykins said. “Even with my grades, I didn’t know if I would get in. School has always been more important to me than wrestling, and I won’t be wrestling that much longer in the grand scheme of things.
“I’m going to be a petroleum engineer. I think our country is still going to need petroleum for a while.”
In the coming school year, Hasseman will continue to talk about the total of his team needing to be more than the sum of its parts.
For his coaches, his teachers and his peers alike at Franklin, it will be difficult to find a replacement part for Skyler Lykins.