Tuesday, June 2, 2020
June 2, 2020

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Senior Salute: Woodland teammates, friends lament the loss of one last season together

High schools: Tim Martinez

By , Columbian Assistant Sports Editor
Published:

Kelly Sweyer and Kaily Christensen have been teammates and friends for a decade.

So it’s no surprise that the Woodland High seniors would share many of the same thoughts, desires and sentiments.

For example, both love the family atmosphere of the Woodland softball team.

They both sought out a similar environment when deciding where to continue their softball careers in college.

And they were both heartbroken that they won’t get to experience one last season together on the softball field.

“When they announced we wouldn’t be having a season, I texted her as soon as it happened,” Christensen said of Sweyer. “I said ‘I’m so heartbroken. I’m so sad.’ She’s always been right by my side all these years. We supported each other. We know how to help each other if we ever got down. We practiced together to help make each other better. And it’s sad because I won’t have that (one last time) before going to college.”

Christensen and Sweyer first became teammates in the third grade, playing on the same softball team in Little League coached by Christensen’s father, Tom.

They remained teammates all the way through high school, with Tom Christensen as coach of the Beavers.

“So I’ve been with them from the very start,” Sweyer said.

And they’ve been teammates on the basketball court, also from grade school through high school.

Through all of those years, having teammates named Kelly and Kaily might be confusing. But it’s not a problem.

“Kaily has gone by ‘Cub’ for as long as I’ve known her,” said Sweyer, who also played soccer last fall for Woodland. “So I call her Cub, and she calls me Kel.”

Together, Cub and Kel have experienced the ultimate high at Woodland, winning back-to-back 2A state titles the previous two years.

Senior Salute

Each week through June, Tim Martinez will spotlight a different high school senior athlete.

If you know of a senior who deserves some attention, send it to tim.martinez@columbian.com or send a direct message on Twitter to @360TMart.

And even with standout pitcher Olivia Grey having graduated last year, both Christensen and Sweyer believed the days of softball success at Woodland were far from over.

“A lot people did say ‘Oh, you had a great pitcher,’ ” Christensen said. “And they weren’t wrong. She was a great pitcher and an amazing teammate. … But I wanted people to realize it was the whole team, not just one person, who had a hand in our success.”

Sweyer said: “We had a very ambitious team. We work hard and play for each other. And that helped us be successful, even last year with Liv. Hard work beats out talent, and I think we would have had a shot to show that this season.”

Next, Christensen and Sweyer will take their work ethic to college. Christensen will play for the College of Idaho and Sweyer at Montana.

“When I met the team and the coaches, it felt like home,” Christensen said of College of Idaho. “It reminded me a lot of my high school team and coaches. That’s what I was drawn to – the very energetic, family attitude, and that they were all hard workers.”

Sweyer got a similar vibe when she visited Montana last summer.

“It had this close environment where everybody knows everyone,” Sweyer said. “It’s going to be like a home away from home to me.”

The only thing Montana won’t have is Sweyer’s best friend by her side.

“It’s been really cool knowing Cub and playing with her for so long,” Sweyer said. “I can read her body language, and she can read mine. We know how to communicate with each other without even saying anything. It’s this awesome bond that we have, and it makes me sad knowing I won’t have a chance to play with her one more time. She’s definitely been with me since Day 1.”

Instead of focusing on the negative, Sweyer chooses to relish in the memories of playing side by side with her best friend for so long.

“I’ve just got to remember all the good things we’ve had,” Sweyer said. “And I’m technically graduating as a state champion, so I’m OK with that.”

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

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