Sports

Federal Way needs something to honor its high school athletes

Federal Way is missing something. Well, I guess it’s missing a lot of things. But, for my purposes this week, the thing the city is missing is a sign or some sort of structure honoring the accomplishments of high school athletes from the area.

I have traveled around the state of Washington pretty extensively and been through big and small towns alike. And one thing that always catches my eye is a sign that lists team and individual high school state championships.

There’s a sign in Auburn, right off the exit from Highway 18 into the city. Kent, Puyallup, Enumclaw, Buckley, Aberdeen, Gig Harbor have some type of recognition and the list goes on and on.

Why not Federal Way? We have grown into one of the most talented and most successful sports populations in the state. It seems there isn’t a year that goes by without a team or individual garnering a state championship.

In 2002-03 alone, the Federal Way school district is responsible for six Class 4A state titles, including individual wins by Decatur swimmers Sandy Hong and Joon Yuom, Jefferson triple jumper Kyle Jenkins, Decatur wrestler Kyle Bressler, Federal Way gymnast Lauren Webb and the Decatur boys swim team.

And being a relatively new incorporated city and a place that is searching for some type of identity, a little hometown pride couldn’t hurt.

Within the last few months, several blue-colored signs have popped up around the city directing people to the King County Aquatic Center, Wild Waves and several parks, among other things.

According to Dean McColgan, a Federal Way City Councilman, there hasn’t been any talk about a sign honoring high school accomplishments at the city level.

“I’ve seen those in other cities,” McColgan said. “But it would be interesting to see the process the other cities went through. Federal Way has quite a few state champions, so it would be a pretty big sign.”

The city really doesn’t need to be involved, as far as money goes. Construction of the sign would make a perfect Eagle Scout project or possibly material could be donated by one of the numerous clubs in Federal Way.

Why not put up something in Celebration Park or SeaTac Mall — the two places that incur the most out-of-town traffic?

People walking by the sign, whether they are Federal Way residents or not, might have some memories flood back. “I remember that 1997 Federal Way girls basketball team,” or “I didn’t know TJ won four-straight boys soccer titles.”

I know that there are people out there who are reading this and saying, “Why would we build something honoring athletes?” “What about the accomplishments of students?”

I wholeheartedly agree. A kid going through high school with a 4.0 grade-point average is much more impressive than a 6-foot-4 forward pouring in 36 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in a win over Puyallup.

But academics do not elicit the same sense of community pride that sports possess.

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear about the University of Washington? I bet for most of you it’s the Husky football program and not the much, much, much more important cancer research that is happening at university’s medical center.

That’s just the way it is.

When you travel around the state and say you are from Federal Way, what do most people associate with the city? “Isn’t that where Apolo Ohno is from?,” “Do you know NBA star Michael Dickerson?” or “I heard the Seahawks’ new general manager went to Federal Way High School?”

Federal Way needs to take advantage of that name recognition and build a sense of community.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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