PORT ORCHARD — When Savannah Foster returned to South Kitsap for her senior season, there were a lot of new faces around the pitch.
Nine seniors had graduated the year before and the previous head coach had departed. The program had strong numbers — 50 players were rostered across the varsity, JV and C teams, but were short on high school experience.
Foster, a four-year varsity girls soccer player, was the natural choice to step in and be the leader on the field.
“She definitely had to step up this year,” head coach K-Lee Haynes said.
“She has been on the varsity squad since her freshman year. She’s on her third coach, so she’s gone through a lot of changes. But she handled it with grace.
“She’s someone the younger players can look up to because she’s even-tempered, but she works her butt off. She shows through her drive, motivation and passion what makes a good player.”
“When K-Lee stepped in, we automatically kind of connected in that way,” Foster said. “We knew we would be leading the team together. So it was whatever I could do to help lead the team and the program.”
For Foster, that often meant being a coach on the field and a mentor and a teacher off the field. It meant staying available to her teammates for advice or to be someone with whom they could meet at the park for a few touches.
It also meant demonstrating how to handle both successes and failures. The Wolves, who got off to a 4-1-1 start, ultimately missed the playoffs by one point.
But in every game, in every situation, Foster’s energy level, passion and dedication never waxed or waned. She was always in the thick of the action trying to win a ball, sweep away a scoring chance or get the offense in gear.
The 4.0-grade-point-average scholar also set a good example off the field, as evidenced by her many academic accolades, including serving as class president and being named co-valedictorian, and her forays into other interests, such as film and television as part of the SKTV video production team. It was not unusual to see Foster on the sidelines during football and boys soccer games with a camera nearby.
“For all the talent she has on the field, in the classroom — she’s really into photography and film, too — she is one of the most humble people I’ve ever met,” Haynes said.
“She really takes to heart anything you have to say, and I think that shows that she has something to learn from everyone. She’s always open to learning and never lets anything go to her head.”
Her role as a holding midfielder put her in perfect position to work with the team’s talented young offensive players, such as freshmen Lillian Lutovsky and Riley Rechlicz. Foster served as the distributor, a role she will continue at the next level at the University of Idaho.
Foster is also adept at free kicks. She scored several goals in that manner this past year, but at 5 feet, 8 inches tall, the Vandals will likely be able to deploy her as a target in the box, as well.
But first, she will have to leave Port Orchard behind. She noted that she had already returned to school for the first time since her last day as a student. And the realization that she is heading off on a new adventure hit her hard.
“I’m really looking forward to continuing my career as a Vandal, but I’ll always be a Wolf at heart,” Foster said.
Past Independent Female Athlete of the Year recipients:
2017: Paxton DePoe
2016: Emma York
2015: Hayley Romo
2014: Hayley Romo
2013: Miranda Caballero
2012: Maile Keanu
2011: Kelsey Callaghan
2010: Riley Dopps
2009: Stephanie Osterdahl
2008: Kaileigh Westermann
2007: Madison Rousell
2006: Madison Rousell
2005: Brittany Miller