The Federal Way Mirror and Federal Way Public Schools partnered once again for the Athlete of the Year award ceremony June 5 at Federal Way High School.
During the course of the year, athletes are selected from high schools across Federal Way, beginning in September. Then in May, the contest transitions into a community vote to select the winner of the Athlete of the Year.
There are 16 finalists who make it to the celebration, four from each high school. This year there were over 8,200 votes for all of the athletes.
The 2023 male winner for back-to-back years is Federal Way Isaiah Afework. He is the first male athlete to win the award in consecutive years. Hailey Still out of Thomas Jefferson High School won it back in 2018 and 2019.
Afework played both basketball and baseball for all four years of high school at the varsity level. He was a first-team all-league player in basketball, and baseball this past season. He was a starter on both teams and was monumental in their success, making the state tournament with both teams this year.
“It’s the end of an era,” Afework said. “It means everything. It is where I learned to become the person I am today.”
Decatur junior Sina Fuiava, who played softball this year, took home the best female athlete award this year. She is the first Decatur softball player to win the award since the new format began in 2017. She is also the first Decatur athlete in general to take home the crown.
Fuiava had over 50% of the entire votes received.
“It feels good knowing that my hard work is being recognized by people and not just my family. It proves that my work is being shown throughout softball,” she said.
Neither athlete really expected to win the award either. Afework, who was last year’s winner, stayed under control during the announcement.
“I was pretty calm, just happy to be here,” Afework said.
For Fuiava, only playing one sport, she was up against some tough competition.
“I was honestly really shocked. There were a lot of good candidates and nominees up there. I was really intimidated, but hearing my name was really surprising,” she said.
On the field, Fuiava had 13 homers this year and was named a NPSL 4A All-Star this year and a first-team all-league player. Off the field, she got some help from family.
“I didn’t expect to win, but my aunt was really reposting it a lot on social media. So she was really advocating for me, so this is all her,” Fuiava said of the vote.
Afework will play baseball in the NWAC next year and Fuiava will look to follow up her amazing 2023 campaign with another great season in 2024.