WSD senior Annie Kvamme shows there is nothing she can’t tackle

Commentary: Tim Martinez

By Tim Martinez, Columbian Assistant Sports Editor

Published:

 

Like most homecoming queens, Annie Kvamme was surprised to hear her name called for the honor during halftime of a Washington School for the Deaf football game last month.

“I was stunned when my name got called,” Kvamme said. “Not only did I not expect to be homecoming queen, but at the time, I was just thinking about playing the game and what I needed to do get ready for the second half.”

Some in attendance may have been surprised to learn WSD’s homecoming queen was also the starting offensive guard for the Terriers’ 8-man — check that — 8-player football team.

But that’s because they just didn’t know Annie Kvamme.

“Annie is just a great competitor and a great leader around campus,” said Ron Spratlen, WSD’s athletic director and my ASL interpreter during my sit-down with Kvamme. “She’s just a well-rounded young lady, and we see great things in her future.”

Kvamme has always been an active person and enjoyed playing sports. The senior has been a three-sport athlete — volleyball, basketball and track and field — ever since she first arrived on the WSD campus from her home in Bellingham at the end of her freshman year.

“I’ve always enjoyed playing volleyball, but I started to think about doing something that was more physical,” she said. “I was taking a weightlifting class with some of the players on the football team last spring, and I thought ‘Why not try football?’ ”

At 5-foot-5, she wasn’t the biggest player to turn out for summer football practices. But she wasn’t the smallest either.

She was initially concerned with how she would be received by the other players. But on a campus where the can-do attitude flourishes, her teammates easily accepted her into the fold, even after she was named to the starting offensive line.

“They said ‘You should be starting. You earned it,’ ” Kvamme said. “That made me feel really good.”

It helped that one of her best friends, John Smart, also played on the offensive line. Smart was voted homecoming king.

Most players Kvamme faced this season didn’t realize they were playing against a girl, at least until after the game when players removed their helmets to exchange handshakes.

“I remember seeing players say ‘Hey! That was a girl!’ ” she said.

Her biggest fear about playing football wasn’t getting hurt. It was how she would react to getting hurt.

“I was worried I would get hurt and start crying,” she said. “That would be so embarrassing. But the first time I got knocked down, I got up thinking ‘Is that all?’ It wasn’t that big of a deal. That’s when I knew I could do this.”

Kvamme did endure a dislocated thumb and a twice-sprained ankle — “I didn’t tell my coaches after the first time I sprained it,” she said — but she had only one regret about her one season of high school football.

“Oh my gosh, yes, I wish I had played earlier,” she said. “If I had started last year, or even my sophomore year, I could have learned so much more and become an even better player.”

Her season of football just added to an already impressive résumé during her years at WSD. She was recently chosen as a Junior National Association for The Deaf delegate. In March, she took part in the National Academic Bowl Championships in Washington, D.C. Earlier that month, she and Smart were selected Miss and Mister Deaf Teen America at a ceremony at Columbus, Ohio.

“I had an advisor recommend me for that,” she said. “I never even thought about entering a beauty pageant. But it really isn’t like that. It was more about academics, leadership and character. … It was a great experience meeting kids from all over the country. I never expected us to win. It was such an honor.”

Kvamme plans to attend college after graduating from WSD and hopes to study dentistry or dermatology. She has applied to colleges like Gallaudet University in Washington D.C., the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York and Cal State Northridge in Los Angeles.

All three have outstanding programs for deaf students, but this Northridge alum is partial toward CSUN. No pressure, though.

Whatever choice she makes, it’s hard to imagine Kvamme not finding success.

“The one thing I would hope people take away (from my experience) is that girls can do anything,” Kvamme said. “And deaf people can do anything.”

Well said, Annie.

Oh, and go Matadors.

Tim Martinez is the assistant sports editor/prep editor for The Columbian. He can be reached at 360-735-4538, tim.martinez@columbian.com or follow his Twitter handle @360TMart.