Sports

A sweep for Olympic

This is a story of trials, tribulations and success that comes with being an athlete.

Perhaps no local high-school standouts know this better than Olympic seniors Lauren Haas and Jeff Shaw — the 2004 High School Student-Athletes of the Year for the Central Kitsap Reporter.

“It was a little surprising,” said Shaw, who plays baseball, basketball and football for the Trojans. “You look at the Reporter every year and say, ‘Wow, those people are really cool.’ So my reaction was, ‘Wow, this is cool.’ ”

The award is based on nominations from the community and students are selected based on academic and athletic success. Central Kitsap, Klahowya and Olympic High School students are eligible for the award.

Haas and Shaw both exemplified those qualities by exhibiting success in three sports and through stellar scholastic backgrounds.

“Both of them not only are quality athletes who set the standard on the field of play, but they also do it in the classroom and through various activities around the school,” Olympic athletic director Robert Polk said. “They’re both classy people who demonstrate leadership at every opportunity.”

Balancing basketball, soccer and softball isn’t an easy act, but Haas said she had a game plan to lead her to a top 20 academic finish among her class at Olympic.

“I think the busier I am, the better I do at school,” said Haas, who has maintained a 3.93 grade-point average. “My life is very structured, which makes it pretty easy.”

Shaw agreed.

“When you’re busy, you really work to get everything done,” he said. “When you’re sitting around, things don’t seem to get done and the product isn’t good. An A paper becomes a B- paper.”

Haas, who will attend Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill., on a softball scholarship, hasn’t dealt with adversity in the classroom. The athletic field has been a little different, though.

“Basketball was interesting,” said Haas, referring to the Trojans’ 2-18 record. “We practiced all the time, but we never improved. Seasons like that build character in people.”

And confidence.

Haas also had an offer to play softball at the University of Georgia, but turned it down because “the focus was just on softball” had a quick response when Southern Illinois coach Kerri Blaylock said she signed a shortstop in addition to Haas.

“She said, ‘We recruited another girl to play shortstop’ and I said, ‘That’ll change.’ ”

Shaw, who maintained a 3.71 grade-point average at Olympic, also will look to make an impression.

Following graduation this month, he will head to Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho. It didn’t take much to sell Shaw on the school’s benefits — both his parents attended college there.

“They gave me a little money, which always helps,” said Shaw, adding that he was looking at schools within a specific tuition bracket. “The education side is just perfect and they’re going to let me play basketball and baseball.”

It’s an opportunity he relishes. After all, Shaw said he never grew up expecting to play sports higher than the high-school level.

“It’s probably a God thing,” he said. “I’m not really athletic compared with a lot of people. I was blessed.”

Haas also realized earlier that she would have to make adjustments to compete at a higher level.

“I figured out when I was 15 that I wanted to be a Division-1 player,” she said. “I knew I wasn’t going to be (6-foot-3), so I focused on playing shortstop instead of pitching.”

With fellow Trojans’ standout Hope Hilman, who signed with Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, N.J., entrenched at shortstop, Haas became a fixture on the mound for Olympic, but still gained her desired result.

“The coolest thing is getting your schooling paid for to do something you love,” she said.

Before both move to new locations, Haas and Shaw will continue with their general rituals. For Shaw, that means continuing his work with the Bremerton Church of the Nazarene. Those lessons will provide reference for the future.

“I’m going into the religion department,” said Shaw, whose father is a minister at the church. “I want to be a missionary, maybe out of the country.”

Haas, who plans to study biology or chemistry in college, will explore the depths of science in a different manner east of Snoqualmie Pass.

“I like to cliff jump,” she said. “Some people think I’m nuts, but I love the sensation of being in the air.”

OTHER HONORS

Juniors of the Year — Neil Fryer and Emily Zygmontowicz helped lead the Central Kitsap boys and girls teams to playoff berths last season. Fryer arguably is the top returning player in the Narrows League Bridge Division next season, while Zygmontowicz is expected to lead the Cougars’ girls team, which only lost one senior, to its second appearance at the state tournament in three years.

Sophomores of the Year — The Olympic Trojans began the season talking about their deep senior-laden pitching rotation of Stephen Braun, Reid Kessler and Shaw. By the end, the focus was on a slender sophomore with the nearly unhittable breaking ball. Nick Bankus recorded four wins and a 1.18 ERA during the regular season, helping Olympic claim a playoff spot. As for CK’s Megan Hoisington, the gritty inside player proved too difficult to keep off the basketball court. Cougars’ coach Denise Baxter rewarded Hoisington’s rebounding and defensive effort in general by giving her a start in the season-ending playoff loss against Mount Tahoma on March 3.

Coach of the Year — CK typically had a solid boys basketball program that just couldn’t quite advance to the state tournament.

That all changed in Tim Fryer's first year as the Cougars’ coach.

A Narrows League Bridge Division title and 21-7 record earned Fryer the Reporter’s Coach of the Year honors. CK, which placed fifth in the 4A state tournament, hadn’t advanced to state since 1971 — the Narrows League’s longest drought.

“The process was simple,” Fryer said. “I had a talented bunch of guys who knew basketball pretty well that needed to change the direction. We needed to take some of the structure out, believe it or not, and give them more freedom. It was a fun year to help them obtain their goals.”

Besides coaching some summer-league teams, Fryer hadn’t coached since his tenure at Peninsula College in Port Angeles in the early 1980s.

“I always wanted to (coach again), but my life went in a different direction,” he said. “I enjoy working with the high-school kids. It was an outstanding year and I couldn’t be happier about it.”

Game of the Year — The CK boys basketball team battled South Kitsap for the Narrows League Bridge Division title throughout the season. After blowing a double-digit lead entering the fourth quarter of the first game between the schools at CK — a 58-49 SK win — on Jan. 21, the Cougars battled back to claim a 58-45 win against the Wolves on Feb. 13 at SK. Brice Brooks paced the Cougars with 25 points during the game and gave his teammates confidence that they could defeat the Wolves, which they again accomplished with a 53-43 victory on Feb. 16 to clinch the Bridge Division title.

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