Rebirth of spring sports rejuvenating

Spring is a time for rejuvenation and rebirth, an appropriate atmosphere for creation of something wonderful out of the ashes of a tragedy.

Last week I mentioned a funding drive that sought to raise money for a scholarship fund in memory of Hannah Wachsman, one of the three teens who died a couple of weeks ago in a car crash. The three girls all played junior varsity volleyball at Bainbridge High School.

At the time I wrote the column, $30,000 of the $50,000 goal had been raised. By the time last Friday’s edition of the Review came out, the goal had been met.

In six days (as of ), over $54,000 had been raised in addition to the Wachsman family’s $10,000 match. If you want an idea of what it’s like to see a community at it’s best, this is it. And the gestures of goodwill from the rest of Kitsap have continued as well.

After the conclusion of Friday’s softball game at Bainbridge High School, visiting North Kitsap was kind enough to bring individual flowers for each of the players and coaches. There were smiles and tears of joy all around.

Well done, Bainbridge Island. Well done, Kitsap sports community.

Speaking of Friday’s softball game, I was chatting with North Kitsap’s “new” coach Clay Blackwood, who had been hired last year but, like all of the other first-year spring coaches, never actually got a chance to coach the team. As we were talking, I realized that only two players — Makayla Stockman and Samantha Burgh — were still on the roster from North Kitsap’s 2019 state tournament team.

When the Vikings went out of the tourney that year, it represented the end of an era, as that team had several four-year varsity starters who were instrumental in turning around a program that had fallen on hard times and had not won an Olympic League title in 15 years.

While we didn’t get a chance to see how far the returning players would be able to go last year, 2021 is giving us the first glimpse of what looks like a bright future. The first wave of young players, such as Cerenity Fake, Kendall Becker and Allison Dvorak, have already made an impact on the team, and are supported by their veteran pitcher Stockman, who continues to rack up strikeouts at an astounding rate.

If those names sound familiar, it’s because they have been part of some very successful North Kitsap Little League teams over the past few years, including the 2019 All Star team that finished third in state behind the much larger communities of Mill Creek and Redmond.

And they’ve already had moments of great success and learned some challenging lessons just three games into the season.

The Vikings had their perennial archrivals Port Angeles seemingly down for the count; they led 4-1 in the seventh inning and their ace was throwing some serious smoke with 11 strikeouts. But the veteran Roughriders put together a last stand and stole a 5-4 victory.

The team has responded well since then, beating Olympic 4-1 and Bainbridge 9-1, and they should continue their strong start this week against Central Kitsap and Sequim.

I’ve been able to stay mostly in the northern end of Kitsap this spring, as South Kitsap’s transition back to the South Puget Sound League for Seasons 2 and 3 created a small gap in their schedule. But the Wolves will get rolling in earnest this week.

The South Kitsap softball team, much like their North Kitsap counterparts, have had plenty of success over the past few years and are also set to reload with a new team. Few veterans remain from the 2019 team that competed in the tough 4A West Central/Southwest bi-district tournament, but the youngsters should become battled-tested in quick order as they face top-notch SPSL opponents day in, day out over the course of this shortened 2021 season.

It’s been a long year since the spring season that never happened, but here’s to a great comeback of spring sports in 2021.

Mark Krulish is a sports reporter and columnist. He can be reached at