VERNON - There were times this season when Badger High School basketball coach Chris Mott walked out of the locker room after a pre-game talk and heard a voice.
No, it wasn't in his head. The sound was in the locker room, and the voice of reasoning came from senior Colton Kellogg, a cerebral player who Mott said always understood the point he and his coaching staff were trying to get across.
"You don't always have to explain why we do certain things to a kid like that - like why a kid has to be somewhere at a certain time," Mott said. "He understands what the coaching staff wants from the team. There's many times where we've walked out of the locker room, and he's pulled the guys together. We could hear him saying, 'Hey guys, get in here.' He took that leadership role on."
Kellogg spent the last few years acquiring as much knowledge as he can about sports, particularly baseball, basketball and soccer - sports he plays at Badger. The three-sport standout said he learned from the upperclassmen before him, and some of the main attributes he took from their tutoring was to gain a complete understanding of the game and to lead by example.
"I think (being a leader) is something that builds up throughout the years by learning from older peers and learning as you go," Kellogg said. "You can go out and play your hardest in games, but everything starts in practice. It starts in the summer and by practicing every day."
That type of dedication led to his desire to possess a full comprehension of all the sports he plays.
"I try to study the game," he said. "In all the sports I play, I try to understand the mental aspect because I think that's what gives you the base you need in order to play."
The smarts are evident to Mott. He said Kellogg, who averaged 8.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, made himself into one of the Badgers' best all-around players. And the improved play wasn't just due to his intelligence. The effort and athletic ability of the 6-foot-4, 165-pound Kellogg were equally impressive.
"He has a lot of toughness," Mott said. "He was one of our leading rebounders, and it wasn't because of his height. It was his aggressiveness around the hoop and his heart. He wanted that ball when it was in his area. He's a very good anticipator on the floor, on offense and defense, and his athletic ability always seem to fly under the radar."
His witty attributes are equally important in baseball, where Kellogg is the Braves' starting center fielder. Mott said he controls the outfield in a way that not many center fielders can - thanks mainly to a propensity for knowing where a batter is going to hit the ball.
"He anticipates well in baseball too," Mott said. "If he sees a batter foul a ball off, he sees that the guy is late (with his swing), and he adjusts. He adjusts his teammates in the outfield to the pull side or the weak-end side. He does that very well."
His strengths at the plate are making contact and putting pressure on the defense with what he called "rangy speed." Basically, his long strides allow him to get down the line quickly.
"If you look at my physique, I'm a 6-4 kid, only 160 pounds, so I just know that I'm not about to crush the ball over an outfielder's head or get that screaming liner past the third baseman," he said. "My mentality is that you have to put the bat on the ball to make the defense work."
Kellogg said his favorite sport is soccer. He was a second-team All-Ohio selection and was a major reason the Badgers reached the regional semifinal and earned a 16-2-1 record.
Yet, Kellogg likely won't be playing any sports in college. He's awaiting his acceptance to the University of North Carolina, where he hopes to study sports medicine.
"A lot of it was their physical therapy program," said Kellogg of his reasoning to attend UNC. "They're in the top 10 in the country. And I guess a big reason is the warm weather. I hate the cold up here."
It doesn't a take a 4.0 GPA to understand that rationale.