Anyone who has followed high school football or boys basketball in Cache Valley has heard of Mason Falslev.
When you are the state MVP in two sports and being courted by Division I schools to play both, your accomplishments are well known. Sports fans are well aware of his accolades from 2019, as well as how Sky View won the 4A boys basketball and football state championships. Falslev was instrumental in the Bobcats capturing both titles.
But what does the 6-foot-4 athlete from Benson do away from the field or court? Yes, he does like to “hang out with friends” and play ping pong, but there is also something else he is heavily involved with. Do many people know of his time spent with TOP Sports?
“It’s a program that works with kids with disabilities,” said Falslev when asked about TOP Sports. “Ever since I was little I’ve grown up with this kid, Dillon Lundahl. Over the past 10 years we’ve grown so close. His mom (Erica Lundahl) started TOPS and asked me to come hang out, play basketball, play soccer, go bowling, just spend time with those kids.”
And he has. According to Erica Lundahl, Falslev has not had to be asked to come after his first visit.
“He (Falslev) shows up at every one of activities and spends two hours playing with the kids,” Lundahl said. “A lot of our participants are teenagers, so it is awesome for them to have one of their peers there. We have kids with a wide spectrum of disabilities — wheelchairs, walkers, non-verbal, autistic — Mason doesn’t see these amazing kids as anything but what they are — amazing. He runs into the gym and they all cheer when they see him enter and he spreads his love around. We have been so blessed to have him helping us for so many years.”
The 18-year-old son of Kyle and Hollie Falslev has enjoyed being part of the TOPS Sports program.
“It was so fun to go play and see their faces light up,” Falslev said. “It’s awesome.”
The three-time 4A state MVP — 2019 and 2020 in boys basketball and 2019 in football — may never know the full impact he has made. Lundahl called it “huge.”
“Many of them started attending his high school games,” Lundahl said. “He makes it a point to come over and five them a big hug and thanks them for coming. The smile on their faces and joy in their eyes is priceless.”
Lundahl also explained how Falslev treats her son, Dillon, as an equal, picking him up to go out and eat, or participate in whatever activity he is doing. Dillon even became a part of the Sky View basketball team with Falslev watching over him and helping him get on the bus with his walker.
Playing two sports and doing volunteer work is just a part of who Falslev is. The teenager graduated from Sky View High School with a 3.969 grade point average. The well-rounded Bobcat is also the 2020 Herald Journal Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
“It was a fun year,” Falslev said of his senior campaign at SV. “It didn’t quite end exactly how I wanted it to, but a lot of people would die for that opportunity to play for a state championship, so I’m happy I was able to play in that. Things don’t always go your way. You just have to learn from it and get better.
“Football was awesome. That was unlike anything else. It was so fun. It’s such a team sport and you celebrate with all of your buddies.”
The Bobcats lost in the state championship game in boys basketball after winning the title in 2019. However, like he said, Sky View did reign supreme in football last fall.
Wanting to play at the next level, Falslev knew he had to get good grades. He said his parents stressed the importance of doing well in school.
“Good grades show your effort, shows you really care,” Falslev said. “It’s my mindset. I always want to do the best that I can. ... I have had some late nights, but I try to get my work done in class. I work really hard in class.”
Brady Fonnesbeck can attest to that. The soon-to-be vice principal at SV taught Falslev in two courses — medical anatomy and physiology, and sports medicine. Fonnesbeck explained that the course on medical anatomy and physiology is for the entire year and is comparable to a college class.
“As a student, Mason has been unforgettable in a lot of ways,” Fonnesbeck said. “His junior year was my first year at Sky View, so I had no idea how accomplished he was already as a student-athlete after his freshman and sophomore years at Sky View. Given his early success as an athlete at Sky View, my experience has taught me that most kids in these situations let what they have done go to their heads amongst their peers at school. At school Mason was unique because — while he knew he was the ‘big man on campus’ — he did not let this get in the way of the relationships he had with his classmates, teachers and coaches. For example, one thing that I always admired about Mason at school was that he seemed to know the names of everyone that he crossed paths with. It did not matter who it was. Not only did he know their names, but he always had something nice to say or something funny to share with them.”
Falslev called Mr. Fonnesbeck “really cool” and listed his classes as his favorites during his time at SV. While Fonnesbeck was one of his favorite teachers, he also included Kyler Braunberger and a relative, Kaye Dawn Falslev.
“There are some amazing ones here at Sky View,” Falslev said when asked to name a favorite teacher. “... They knew I was a sports guy, but treated me like every other guy. They were really nice to me.”
There is a reason for that.
“Mason has a gravity to him that has more to do with the kind of person he is than his feats on the playing fields,” Fonnesbeck said. “As a student, he liked to have as much fun as he could, while also working hard to learn what was expected. Other students were attracted to this, which to be honest made my job as a teacher much easier and more enjoyable.
“I do not think this interview would be complete without noting that he has a laugh that anyone at Sky View the past four years would instantly recognize as his. Once school begins again this fall, those of us at Sky View are no doubt going to miss hearing it in the halls, in class and at extracurricular activities.”
Falslev grew up playing three sports. However, baseball ended when he was 11. He decided to focus on football and basketball, and blossomed into a star. Falslev was recruited by many colleges in both sports.
Hoops is really where his heart is and why he signed to play with the University of Utah. Falslev will first serve a LDS Church Mission to Brazil.
“Ever since I was little I’ve dreamed of playing college basketball,” Falslev said. “That dream of the NBA is in my mind also. I always knew that I was going to play basketball. Basketball has been my thing.”
He started playing basketball with his older brother when he was 4 years old. Over the last three years he has been the state MVP twice and was a first-team all-state selection as a sophomore. He thrilled the Bobcats with dunks and 3-point shots. However, his final basketball season did end on a sour note.
“I hate talking about the state championship game,” Falslev said. “... We always talked about be humble or get humbled. That’s what we did throughout the year. We played hard in practice and tried to be humble.”
Falslev hurt his foot in the state football championship game, but did not use it as an excuse during basketball.
“Mason has been a huge part of Sky View’s success the last four years, reaching the championship two years and the semifinals one year,” SV boys basketball coach Kirk Hillyard said. “He was also part of three region championships. His teammates love to be around him on and off the court. He has a great personality along with his ultra competitive attitude that is a true reason why he has been so successful the past four years.
“Mason competes at anything he does and that carries on and off the court. He will leave a hole at Sky View that the next few years we will have to work hard to fill, but the kids at Sky View are up to the challenge.”
His senior season in football got off to a rough start when he sprained the AC joint in his left shoulder. The quarterback missed two games and when he returned the young replacement was doing well.
In his first action back, Falslev played wide receiver and caught a touchdown pass to break up a tie game.
“I love quarterback, but wanted to do what’s best for the team,” Falslev said. “Looking at it and talking with the coaches and my teammates, they thought I could be more effective moving around the field more and keep the defense on their toes. Kasen (Carlsen) did amazing and balled out in all the games (at quarterback). It ended up working out.”
Yes, it did.
And Falslev, who had been a receiver and earned second-team all-state accolades as a sophomore, did play all over. In the state championship game, he rushed for two touchdowns, caught a team-high five passes and picked off a pass while playing some defense.
“Coach Toph let me do my own thing on defense,” Falslev said of head coach Christopher Howell. “He knew I wasn’t much of a hitter, but could read the ball well. He put me in when he thought teams were going to pass.”
Falslev started playing football when he was 8. In high school, he played for three different head coaches, calling them all “great guys.”
“Mason was incredible this last year for our football team,” Howell said. “He was elected team captain by his teammates and he did an incredible job leading our team. He is obviously an incredible athlete with an unbelievable will to win, but he is also a great person. His personality is infectious and he draws people to him. He makes those around him better. He is also a great student and does things the right way in class. He took numerous college level courses and excelled in those as well. Mason was a joy to coach and has left an incredible legacy here at Sky View.”
Being named the state MVP last fall in football “blew my mind,” Falslev said.
He has two favorite memories as a Bobcat and both including winning state championships.
“Those were the two best days of my life,” Falslev said.
How would he like to be remembered at Sky View?
“I hope they remember me as a good guy who loved sports,” Falslev said.
He started preparing for his church mission at home on June 24. He is learning Portuguese and preparing to go to Brazil, but will most likely spend some time in the states first.
Once his mission is over, then he will be heading to Salt Lake City. He is excited to play at Utah.
“Growing up, I played with Rylan (Jones) on a traveling team, and his dad Chris Jones has been an awesome influence on me,” Falslev said of the current Ute assistant. “He (Jones) made me into the player I am today, along with all my other amazing coaches.”
“While playing basketball is obviously a focus of Mason’s beyond high school, I noticed that he always paid particular attention to the different health science careers that we studied in both classes,” Fonnesbeck said. “I would not be surprised if you were to see him pursue a career as a health professional one day when he decides his playing days are complete.”
Falslev did mention an interest in the medical field, but basketball is still his dream. He wants to go as far as he can with it.
One thing is for sure: There will be plenty of people from Cache Valley cheering him on.