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2008-09 Female Athlete of the Year goes to Federal Way's Jacqie Evenson
When you look up the term “student-athlete” in the dictionary, Federal Way High School senior Jacqie Evenson’s photo and resume should be front and center.
She defines what a high school athlete should aspire to be.
Evenson was a star on the soccer field, basketball court and on the track for the Eagles. She became one of only a handful of athletes in the rich history of Federal Way High School to receive 12 letters, which amounts to a letterman’s jacket that is loaded with patches, bars and stars. Evenson lettered four times each in basketball and soccer, three times in track and in tennis as a freshman.
But, more importantly, Evenson was a star inside the classroom at Federal Way High School, graduating with a 4.0 grade-point average last week.
“I loved Federal Way High School,” Evenson said. “It was a great experience. I just love the diversity at Federal Way. I got to experience all the different cultures. It was really rewarding to walk through the halls and say ‘hi’ to everybody.”
She can now add the title of the Federal Way Mirror’s 2008-09 Female Athlete of the Year to her already impressive list of accomplishments.
“She works very hard at everything she does,” said Federal Way head girls basketball coach Danny Graham said. “Everything we have done this year is because of her. She is our absolute leader.”
A bulk of Evenson’s successes have come on the basketball court for the Eagles. During her four-year career at Federal Way, Evenson led the Eagles into the postseason four times. During her senior season, Federal Way advanced into the Class 4A State Tournament for the first time since 1998. The Eagles eventually finished in a surprising third place.
“Basketball is definitely my favorite,” Evenson said. “When I was growing up, soccer was my favorite. But when it started becoming select and they were playing all year-round, I kind of fell in love with basketball.”
Evenson was the unquestioned leader of the young and talented team. She was a first-team, All-South Puget Sound League North Division selection after averaging 11 points, five rebounds, 4.2 assists and four steals a game. As a junior, she averaged 12.5 points and 7.5 rebounds. She was was an All-City selection three seasons in a row.
Evenson’s basketball career will most likely continue in the fall at Gonzaga University, which advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season.
“I’m trying to walk-on to the basketball team, so hopefully I can make it,” Evenson said. “I have been over there a couple of times and really love the atmosphere.”
Evenson lists this year’s state tournament as her favorite athletic achievement at Federal Way, mainly because nobody really expected the Eagles to do as well as they did. Federal Way started four sophomores alongside Evenson and most thought that this year would just be a confidence-building season for the Eagles.
But that’s not what Evenson was thinking, and she let her teammates know they were playing for the present and not the future.
“We had some high expectations for ourselves going into the season,” Evenson said. “We were all disappointed that we didn’t make it to state the year before.”
Even when Federal Way, who finished third in the SPSL North Division, drew the three-time defending state-champion Lewis and Clark Tigers in their opening-round game inside the Tacoma Dome, Evenson wasn’t about to let her team throw in the towel.
“When we drew them in the first round, no one really expected us to win that game,” she said. “But we expected ourselves to win that game and after we won that, we just wanted to take it as far as we could.”
Evenson and the Eagles took it as far as the semifinal game, where they ran into the eventual state-champion Kentwood Conquerors. Federal Way ended up finishing in third place after beating Moses Lake in the third-sixth game.
“It was just a great way to end my career,” Evenson said. “It was an amazing ride.”
“She was the catalyst behind everything,” Graham said. “She was our heart and soul.”
Evenson was also a natural on the soccer field as a defender. Despite not playing year-round like most of the girls she was playing against, Evenson was a two-time, All-SPSL North selection.
And on the track, Evenson proved to be one of the elite hurdlers and sprinters in the state. As a junior, she finished third in the 300 hurdles and sixth in the 100 hurdles at the Class 4A State Track and Field Meet, and ended up eighth in the 300 hurdles as a senior. She also was a part of the Eagles’ 4x100 team that finished sixth last month.
“I didn’t really like track all that much,” Evenson said with a laugh. “I played tennis as a freshman and was going to do it again, but the track coaches basically picked me up from the lunch table and took me to sign up for track before my sophomore year.”
Evenson thought of track as something to do during the spring and competed because she was good at it.
“I really don’t like to run,” Evenson said. “But I do think that it helped me to get in better shape and improved my flexibility.”
In an era of specialization at the high-school level, Evenson’s three-sport schedule is somewhat of an oddity. But she doesn’t see it that way and nobody ever tried to convince her to do just one sport during her tenure at Federal Way.
“All of my coaches actually encouraged me to do other sports and do other things,” Evenson said. “They were all really supportive.”