We promise, this is the last season Callie Crawford’s name will appear in a King’s Way Christian girls basketball box score.
Oh yeah, we know, you probably figured last year would be the last year. After all, last year was her fourth year on varsity at King’s Way. That’s usually the limit, right?
Crawford’s story is a bit unusual. She is a fifth-year varsity player because she was on varsity as an eighth-grader.
“They didn’t have enough high school players so they pulled up three eighth graders to play with the high school team,” she said.
Oh yes, Class 1B schools are allowed to dip into the eighth-grade talent pool if there are not enough high school athletes to fill out a varsity roster. Back then, King’s Way was a 1B school.
“I just thought it was a really fun opportunity to play with high schoolers, but it was intimidating, too,” Crawford said.
Of the three, Crawford is the only one who played all five years. Another moved to another school. And Jessica Roy, who is one of the team leaders this season, did not play as a sophomore.
Crawford is finishing out the five-year plan. There is no official state database to determine just how many athletes in Washington play for five years, but it can be assumed the number is few.
Crawford can play, too. She said she started a few games that eighth-grade year, as well.
As a freshman, the team went to the state tournament. Last year, King’s Way won a league title.
This season, well, a lot has changed. King’s Way opted up two classifications to play in the Trico League, against Class 1A competition. The Knights are 2-15. Besides dealing with tougher opponents, the team also lost two players to season-ending injuries.
Still, Crawford and the Knights are having fun.
“They are an amazing group to coach,” King’s Way coach Jamie Gonzales said. “Their effort is 100 percent. They never give up. They’ve all become better basketball players.”
Including Crawford, the team’s second-leading scorer and top rebounder. Crawford had a high of 18 rebounds in one contest.
“It’s a huge difference, my maturity from how I played in the eighth grade to playing now,” she said. “I grew up learning to play with older players. Now I’m learning to play with younger players. Obviously, I’ve gotten bigger. And my decisions on the court are different.”
This is Crawford’s last week with the program, which has meant so much to her. She is grateful for all of her seasons, all of her coaches, and all of her teammates. She also appreciates being a part of a small school.
“At my skill level, I never would have been able to play varsity,” she said, referring to the big schools such as Prairie or Skyview.
Perhaps she is being modest. Or maybe it is true assessment of her game. Regardless, King’s Way is her school, and this basketball program is a part of her.
“It’s been a great experience, growing up as a player and growing in my relationship with God,” she said.
Paul Valencia covers high school sports for The Columbian. He can be reached at 360-735-4557 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org