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Mirror's 2007 Female Athlete of the Year Bree Rowe
By CASEY OLSON
Bree Rowe loves to compete. There's no doubting that.
All you have to do is talk to the recent Federal Way High School graduate and you can hear the intensity and desire in her voice. Couple that competitive edge with Rowe's all-around athletic ability and you have a special athlete.
Special enough to earn the Mirror's 2007 Female Athlete of the Year.
Rowe made most of her noise on the soccer field as a center midfielder for the Eagles. She was a first-team, all-state selection following her senior season for the Eagles and was The Mirror's girls soccer player of the year and a three-time All-City selection. During her Eagle soccer career, Rowe tallied 25 goals from the midfield.
"Soccer is just something that I've played my whole life," Rowe said. "I love the team aspect and like controlling the game. The team aspect was always a good fit for me and really came natural. I have an extreme passion for it."
But she was also a terror on the basketball and tennis courts, lettering in both all four years at Federal Way. Rowe was a two-time, All-City basketball player and finished one match short of qualifying for the state tennis tournament her senior year.
"Unbeleivable person, leader and player," said Federal Way head soccer coach Jason Baumgardt. "She is the hardest working girl I have ever coached. She demands herself to give 110 percent effort during every practice and game. Bree is the player that is tough to replace on and off the field."
In the age of specialization at the high-school level, Rowe brushed off the notion of concentrating on one sport, which would have been soccer.
"I have always been a multi-sport athlete," Rowe said. "Playing the other sports (basketball and tennis) has helped. A lot of my friends had to choose. I just lucked out with the coaches I've had. They all encouraged me to play other sports."
Rowe credits basketball with allowing her to better assess the much bigger soccer field. Her positions in the two sports are very similar, in terms of finding open people to pass the ball to. In basketball, Rowe mostly played as the point guard for the Eagles and was an aggressive defender who created numerous turnovers out of Federal Way's full-court defense. Rowe averaged 8 points a game and two rebounds.
"I love the fast pace of basketball," Rowe said. "I look at a basketball court the same way I do a soccer field. But in basketball, you have to think 10 times quicker because the court is smaller. Basketball has also helped with my fitness."
Joining the Federal Way tennis team as a freshman didn't bring with it the same personal expectations that Rowe had in her main sports of soccer and basketball. She had limited experience on the tennis court and admits to turning out "just to keep busy."
But Rowe's athleticism and hard-working attitude led to a huge improvement during her four-year career. And as a senior, Rowe and doubles partner Marisa Ventura were one match from qualifying for the Class 4A state tournament.
"As a freshman, I liked it and then I started getting good at it," she said. "It was a lot of fun."
But playing three sports at the high-school level does have some drawbacks mainly time constraints.
"I was very busy," Rowe said. "I had to stay organized and school always came first. My parents really helped out with that. They were extremely supportive of all us kids and were always able to see us play."
That was one of the main factors that Rowe choose Oregon to continue her soccer career. She was recruited by several schools, including places like the University of Colorado her number-two choice.
"I knew that I wanted to go to a bigger school and I thought I wanted to get far away," Rowe said. "But then I knew that Colorado was going to be a plane ride home and my parents wouldn't be able to watch me. Oregon is a four-hour drive home and we play on the West Coast and against UW, but I still am getting away a little bit."
Oregon has developed into one of the best soccer programs in the Pac-10 Conference over the past couple years. The Ducks finished second in the league this season, but were not invited into the 64-team tournament despite being the 17th-ranked team in the nation.
"I went down there to watch them play UCLA and I fell in love with the city and the school," Rowe said. "Everything seemed to fit and you kinda gotta go with your gut feeling."
Oregon finished the season 12-6-2 overall and 6-2-1 in the Pac-10. The Ducks graduate only two seniors and 10 of 11 starters will return next year. Rowe will be one of seven incoming freshmen in the fall.
"Bree may be the most underrated of the class. She's smart and able to position herself to cut off passing angles and she's a very good defender," said Oregon head coach Tara Erickson.
The only thing missing from Rowe's high school resume at Federal Way is a trip to the state tournament. Her teams were close several times, but could never get over the hump. The Eagles advanced to the West Central District Tournament twice during her four-year soccer career, but lost both times. In basketball, the Eagles were one win away from state during the last two years before dropping a winner-to-state, loser-out game.
"I worked my butt off and had the fundamentals to succeed," Rowe said. "It was just fun to watch everybody grow. We were always one game short. But everything happens for a reason."
Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, email@example.com
Gena Woodke, Decatur
Woodke started her prep career at Beamer, before transferring to Decatur before her junior year. The 5-foot-11 Woodke starred on both the basketball court and on the Gators' track team.
The shot-blocking specialist has signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Yakima Valley Community College. Woodke was a four-year starter at Beamer and Decatur, was team MVP for three years and the captain for two. She was a first-team, all-South Puget Sound League selection last season, after which she averaged 11.9 points, 10.4 rebounds, 5.1 blocks and 3.5 steals per game. Woodke led the Gators to a 6-14 record.
"Gena is one of the best shot blockers I've seen coming out of high school," said Yakima Valley coach Cody Butler. "Her shot blocking will blend well with our pressure defensive system."
Yakima finished in third place at the 2007 NWAACC Tournament after finishing the season with a 29-4 record.
"Gena is a very athletic 5-11 player who should provide us with some mismatch opportunities," Butler said. "She can defend and score in the post, but is also talented enough to play on the perimeter."
In track, Woodke won the West Central District championship in the discus during her senior year and finished sixth at the Class 4A state championships. As a junior she qualified for state in the shot put.
Kelli Calvin, Beamer
Like Rowe, Calvin was also a three-sport standout and was the first Beamer girl to earn 12 letters during her career.
Calvin lettered four times each in soccer, basketball and softball.
On the softball diamond, Calvin was an All-SPSL South first-teamer as an infielder. She finished ninth in the South in batting average after hitting .462 during her senior season. Calvin, a third baseman, also had eight RBIs, two doubles and a .525 on-base percentage.
On the basketball court, Calvin was fourth on the team in scoring, averaging 8.1 points. She also grabbed four rebounds and had 45 steals for the 10-10 Titans.
In soccer, the midfielder tallied three goals and one assist for the SPSL South Division champion Titans, who finished 13-0-1 before losing to Decatur at the West Central District Tournament.
Michelle Borth and Brittany McKay, Jefferson
The TJ pair both became the first Raider boys or girls to earn 12 letters. Borth lettered in soccer, basketball and track and McKay earned her letters in soccer, gymnastics and track.
McKay will play soccer at Highline Community College in the fall and Borth has signed to play at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Both were All-SPSL North Division first-teamers.
Kenna Patrick, Jefferson
The senior won the first-ever state cross country championship in the fall. The title capped an ultra-impressive season for Patrick, who won every in-state meet she was a part of. Patrick pulled away from a four-girl pack during the final 300 yards of the race in the Tri-Cities in a time of 18 minutes, 13 seconds.
In the spring, Patrick finished sixth in the 1,600 meters and eighth in the 3,200 in track.
2006-2007 Mirror's All-City Players of the Year in all female sports
Soccer Bree Rowe, Federal Way
Volleyball Brittany Kohler, Decatur
Cross Country Kenna Patrick, Jefferson
Swimming Amy Friedhoff, Jefferson
Golf Jenna Rochelle, Decatur
Basketball Kiara Schaffer, Beamer
Gymnastics Kaylyn Borden, Beamer
Softball Jayme Carbon, Jefferson
Track Jennifer Wamsley, Jefferson
Tennis Judy Liening, Beamer