Emotions run the gamut at end of ‘fall’ season

Mark Kruli

A few weeks ago I wrote about expecting the unexpected in this shortened COVID-19 season. And last week, we certainly got it.

The Bainbridge girls soccer team was hosting North Kitsap in the final week of the season. Both teams had lost a couple of key players and had struggled to score goals down the stretch. The teams played 80 minutes of scoreless soccer at Bainbridge Memorial Stadium and headed to their respective sidelines.

The Bainbridge coaching staff began the post-game pep talk, and the parents in attendance, which was limited to a handful of folks, began to file out of the stands to meet their players.

But the match wasn’t over. In the Olympic League, teams play two five-minute overtimes and then head to penalty kicks if still tied. In the other local leagues, the Metro, South Puget Sound and South Sound leagues, matches end in a tie.

It was both confusing and humorous, but the referees quickly informed Bainbridge there was more soccer to be played, and the parents sat back down.

Many high school players in Kitsap play at the club level and thus are accustomed to taking penalty kicks, but few teams outside the Olympic League practice them much until the playoffs are near. All’s well that ends well, though. Two senior Spartans, Chloe Boeker and Annie Galbraith scored penalty kicks to lift Bainbridge to victory.

The final week of the fall season that actually was at the end of winter due to COVID ran the gamut — from funny to tragic to touching.

Every corner of the sports world in Kitsap was affected by the deaths of three Bainbridge teens last week. Hannah Wachsman, Marina Miller and Hazel Kleiner played for Bainbridge High School and Olympic Premier Volleyball Club, a hub for volleyball players from all over the county.

Moments of silence were observed before games as far away as Bremerton and Port Orchard, including the Bainbridge football team’s game at South Kitsap. The news had broken on Wednesday and games carried on with heavy hearts the rest of the week. But there is always light even on the darkest of nights.

A few hours before that terrible tragedy, most teams were wrapping up their regular season. North Kitsap was hosting Central Kitsap in Poulsbo, and as is tradition, North Kitsap held a small ceremony before the game to honor its seniors.

Coach Kaelea Makaiwi, who is of Hawaiian descent, presented leis to her three seniors, but also had six more for Central Kitsap’s seniors. CK coach Katie Pasi had done the same for NK earlier in the year, giving them candy leis.

“I had always wanted to honor my seniors with leis whenever I became a head coach,” Makaiwi said. “When we went to them, she gave us candy leis, so I thought I’m getting my seniors leis, I’ll get her seniors leis too.”

For four sets, the girls from North and Central Kitsap were competitors, but once the final point had been scored, they were back to being members of Kitsap’s tight-knit volleyball community.

It was a good reminder that in a year that has kept so many apart, that friends, neighbors and the folks with whom we share our small towns are still here for one another. And the outpouring of support from the Bainbridge community has been nothing short of extraordinary.

A GoFundMe page set up to create a scholarship in Hannah Wachsman’s memory already had raised over $30,000 of a $50,000 goal in one day. Candlelight vigils and community gatherings have been planned, and a massive memorial sits outside the main entrance of Bainbridge High School, where family, friends and community members have dropped off flowers and notes of condolences.

Hannah’s mom, Emily Hall Wachsman, described the world as “a much darker place without her light in it.” But the events of the past week have shown that there is still indeed light left in the world.

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