POULSBO — Cooperation. Teamwork. Patience. Composure.
These are just a few of the words that North Kitsap’s winter senior athletes used to describe competing for their respective teams.
Above all else, the group of seniors claimed they wouldn’t trade their experiences on the court, in the pool or on the mats, for the world.
“(Sports) helped me to keep my grades up and taught me how to be a leader,” Senior basketball player Alex Campagna said. “It’s made me who I am today.”
Campagna, who has played basketball since the fifth grade and also played at
Kingston Junior High School, competed on the Viking varsity team for one year. He cites cooperation as a key factor in his success over the season.
“You learn to work with people even when you don’t want to,” Campagna said.
Lady Viking JJ Proudfoot said she feels much the same way as Campagna — she too developed skills for working with players with whom she might not see eye-to-eye.
“I learned to communicate with people outside my realm,” Proudfoot said.
Proudfoot began playing basketball in the third grade and played on the varsity team at NKHS for two years. She explained that athletics taught her how to be a hard worker.
“I learned a harder work ethic,” Proudfoot said. “One that’s not emphasized in the school system.”
“You have to learn how to carry yourself and develop poise and integrity,” she added.
Sometimes the hardest thing on the playing field is simply to make the attempt, senior and Viking swimmer William Almond said.
“I learned that winning isn’t everything — it’s about competing,” Almond said. “If you don’t compete, you’ll never know how well you can do. Sometimes you surprise yourself.”
Almond’s brother recommended he try out for the swim team his freshman year at Poulsbo Junior High School. He said he’s loved the sport — and being an athlete — ever since.
“I used to be a nerd and I didn’t want to be,” Almond said. “I started having school spirit and team spirit and learned to love to work out.”
Pushing one’s self is a skill Almond developed in the pool, he said.
“You learn how to take pain and channel your energy until the end,” Almond said.
Almond’s teammate Jesse Feutz spoke highly of the bond between the swimmers on the team.
“Of all the teams I competed on, swim team was the tightest,” Feutz said.
Feutz, who began swimming when he was 5, started on the high school team as a freshman. Swimming always kept him motivated academically, Feutz said.
“Swimming definitely helped me to get through school,” he said.
Senior Lady Viking Brenda Stice said competing on the basketball team kept her busy — an aspect she loves about playing sports in school.
“To me, (being in sports) is about fulfillment,” Stice said. “If I’m not in season I get bored.”
Stice has played basketball since age 6 and played three years at Poulsbo Junior High School. She was the only player this year to letter all three years at NKHS.
Like her other basketball seniors, she said working together as a team is something she’ll take with her out of high school — and beyond.
“Along with the basketball skills I learned, I also learned life-long skills in friendship and interacting with people,” Stice said.
She recalled how sports can remind us of the bigger picture. All year, the Lady Vikings dedicated their season to NKHS graduate Alice Wood who died last year at the hands of Crohn’s Disease. The girls would often wear her initials on their arms.
One athlete who was a little less acquainted with her sport than some of her senior counterparts was gymnast Kim Lyles. She began competing on the gymnastics team when she was a junior at NKHS.
“I just wanted to do a sport besides basketball,” she said.
Even in the short span, Lyles said she learned many lessons from competing.
“I learned cooperation. Patience,” Lyles said. “You have to be patient to learn new things and put up with your teammates.”
She also said she appreciates the fact that sports provide a positive distraction — and they’re a lot of fun, too.
“(Sports) keeps you healthy and out of drugs and alcohol,” Lyles said. “And gymnastics is the best sport ever.”
Senior Randy Beck, who played one year on the varsity basketball team, said he also learned a number of things he might not have learned in the books at school.
“A lot of times, you don’t communicate with others in a classroom like you do on a basketball court,” Beck said. “We’re all a family out there.”
Senior Heather Case, who played two years on the Lady Vikings varsity basketball team, echoed Beck’s sentiments.
“No matter who is on the court with you, they’re an aspect of you on the team,” Case said. “Overall, you learn how to get along with people.”
For Case, patience and cooperation — the two things every athlete cited they learned most — were again the keys to success.
“I learned to control my aggressiveness,” she said. “Working with people and putting differences aside.”