The Central Kitsap Reporter's student athletes of the year

Central Kitsap Reporter student athletes of the year Kaitlin Poppe and Jerid Sturman-Camyn. - Photo by Jesse Beals
Central Kitsap Reporter student athletes of the year Kaitlin Poppe and Jerid Sturman-Camyn.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

In high school sports, it’s typically the top scorers or the best hitters or the sharpest of shooters that make the highlights week after week. But there are also the kids behind the scenes that do all the little things that make it possible for others to do their jobs.

In whittling down this year’s nominations for the Central Kitsap Reporter’s 2005 Male and Female Student-Athletes of the Year, a number of kids exemplified a combination of these traits. But in the end, it was clear who the choices would be.

A leading Lady Cougar

Kaitlin Poppe knows what it’s like to face adversity. As a freshman, she had to deal with something that no high schooler should ever have to face — her mother’s death.

For many kids, a life-changing event like that would send their entire lives into disarray. But Poppe knew she had to be stronger than that. With the help of her dad, family and friends, Poppe showed a maturity and level of composure unrivaled by her peers.

“Her dad is such a wonderful man,” CK girls soccer coach Vicky Webb said. “And it comes from the family. She had some tough times growing up. But she persevered. It’s got to be hard for a young lady to go through something like that.”

CK hoops coach Denise Baxter agreed.

“It comes from the parents obviously,” Baxter said. “Good kids come from good parents. That’s probably a big drive for her. She does a lot to make her mom smile.”

Poppe not only maintained herself during her high school years, she excelled. In addition to her skills athletically, she demonstrated a superior leadership ability.

That, combined with her 3.962 grade-point average, a host of Advanced Placement classes and a shining sense of humor, make it easy to see why she had the impact she did.

“I enjoy them both,” Poppe said. “I love playing sports and I do enjoy school. I’m one of the nerds that actually enjoys it.”

“We talk about replacing kids,” Baxter said. “Replacing Emily (Zygmontowicz) and Amy (Spieker) will be tough. But Kaitlin, I’m just not confident someone will be able to step into that role.”

Looking beyond the numbers, Poppe did all the little things to help her teams win, vaulting the CK girls soccer team into playoffs for the first time and getting the hoops squad back to state for the second time in three seasons.

“When it comes down to the last 30 seconds doing what we need to do to win, she’s in there,” Webb said.

Both of her coaches praised her ability to lead her teammates toward success.

“It’s not about stats with her,” Webb said. “It’s what she does as a team leader. People really look up to her.”

“If there was ever an issue on the team, good or bad, she always tries to take an even road,” Baxter said.

Heading to the University of Washington where she’ll pursue dentistry, Poppe said she is both excited and nervous as she gets ready to start her new life.

“I have mixed emotions,” she said. “I’m scared because I won’t be at home, but high school’s been great. But there’s another world. I’m ready to go.”

Baxter recalled her competitive spirit, saying Poppe wasn’t afraid to go head-to-head with girls who were bigger, stronger or more athletic than her.

“She nearly got a concussion in our first state game (two years ago),” Baxter said. “That was the first time I had ever seen her cry. She convinced them to let her play. She just doesn’t say no.”

Both coaches said they’ll remember her fondly. Webb said the bonds created with Poppe are like that of a “family friend.” Poppe even played with Webb, as well as CK senior Cailtin Verhofstadt, on her recreational soccer team.

“It makes me laugh,” Webb said. “She loves soccer so much. She plays with us. We’re in the back going, ‘Run girls, run!’ I know in the future there’ll be a hug and a smile and a ‘How are you doing?’”

But perhaps above all of her accomplishments on and off the field, Poppe knows that she has made her mom proud.

“She loved coming to all my games,” Poppe said. “I don’t think she missed one. It’s fun to know she’s watching me play.”

And even though she won’t play for UW — she said she may do intramural sports — she knows a new door is about to open.

“I’ll always remember all the good times,” Poppe said. “I’m really excited. I’m really scared but I think it’ll be really fun.”

Eagle soars above the rest

As far as success on the field comes, it tough to get more out of an athlete than the Klahowya Eagles got out of Jerid Sturman-Camyn. The wrestler and linebacker helped lead the Eagles football team to a first-ever state appearance while taking second place himself at 189-pounds at this winter’s Mat Classic.

But Sturman-Camyn, too, goes deeper than his success.

“His leadership just comes from his play,” Eagles football and wrestling coach Brad Hamblet said. “On game days, Jerid is there to play. He gives everything he’s

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