SILVERDALE — Central Kitsap High School students Cody Davis, Katelyn Downey and Caleb Giesbrecht signed commitments to universities May 31, to continue in their athletic careers.
“It’s always a pleasure to be able to celebrate students who get to move on to the next level and participate in athletics,” CKHS Athletic Director Bill Baxter said. “It doesn’t happen to everyone. It’s truly an honor.”
Davis, a track and field athlete, signed with George Fox University. Downey, a volleyball athlete, signed with Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Giesbrecht, a cross country athlete, also signed with George Fox.
“It’s always a lot of work and a lot of effort to get to this point,” Baxter said. “It’s very rewarding as a coach and as an athletic director to be able to send kids off to the next level, because we all know it’s something that just doesn’t happen that often. These three individuals, I know they’re going to be of value as they move on and go.”
At the signing ceremony, each student was praised by the coaches. Davis’ coach, Mark Ward, was unable to attend, so Baxter spoke on his behalf.
“Coach Ward is always saying great things about (Davis),” Baxter said. “I know Cody’s worked hard, and I know he’s had some struggles sometimes, but he’s worked hard and battled through that. Those are the things that are going to take you through as you get into life. Congratulations to Cody. Nice job.”
When Davis had a chance to speak to the coaches and the audience, he said, “Big thanks to both my family and my friends who helped me out, especially when I was injured last year. It was pretty disappointing, but … my spirits are high again, looking forward.”
Coach Dragan “K” Karadzic spoke about his time coaching Downey.
“I’ve been blessed to coach Katie the last two years,” Karadzic said. “I think I saw you first when you were in seventh grade. I said, ‘I wish I could coach that kid someday.’ The last two years, it came true. It’s been a pleasure and an honor. Katie, I’m so very proud of you and hope you can come back and visit us. There’ll always be a place for you here. Congratulations.”
Downey said, “Thank you everyone for coming out here. It really means a lot to see so many people here. Thank you, Coach K, for the last few years. Thank you, Mom … Thank you, Dad.”
Coach Chris Baldus had the opportunity to coach Giesbrecht for much longer, having started as his coach in junior high before moving to high school.
“When Coach Baxter says it takes a lot of work to get to this level, I think that’s true in most cases,” Baldus said. “Sometimes, you’ll have an athlete come in with just loads of natural talent. Caleb came in and had some talent, but mostly, his goals were achieved thanks to a whole bunch of work. Caleb worked really, really hard and had an incredible run over the last six years, especially over the last couple years when he started to develop and mature into the athlete and the young man that he is today.”
Giesbrecht said, “Thanks, Coach Chris, for being the best coach through all these years. I really look up to you a lot. Thanks for my teammates. Thanks to my Mom and the rest of my family for being awesome.”
“You don’t get to this level by yourself,” Baxter said. “There’s a lot of people who’ll play parts in your lives and will continue to do so. Continue to lean on your teammates and your coaches as you go on to college, as you change. Again, congratulations.”
— Michelle Beahm is an editor with the Kitsap News Group. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.