Track: College destination based on more than athletics

South Kitsap senior Dominic Boddie is healthy now after an injury-plagued football season. - Jeff Rhodes photo
South Kitsap senior Dominic Boddie is healthy now after an injury-plagued football season.
— image credit: Jeff Rhodes photo

Some athletes view college through the prism of playing competitively at the highest level.

But South Kitsap senior Dominic Boddie said his decision to attend the University of Washington was all about academics.

He has competed in football and track with the Wolves, and hopes to continue his days on the gridiron with the Huskies. But Boddie, who maintains a 3.85 grade-point average, primarily is focused on pursuing a degree in chemical engineering. Because of that, he said he passed on opportunities to play at the University of Puget Sound and Whitworth — where playing time was much more likely — to walk on at UW.

“UW has been my dream school,” Boddie said.

He said he became interested in the subject through taking science classes at South. Boddie said he liked biology, but found himself struggling to put down his chemistry textbook. He is now enrolled in Advanced Placement Chemistry, which is taught by Paul Zimmer, the school’s co-track and field coach.

In lauding Boddie’s intelligence, Zimmer said there are some misperceptions about him; particularly that he is always quiet.

“He’s pretty shy, but he has a funny, goofy side to him,” Zimmer said. “He has a good leadership quality about him.”

Zimmer, who is in his first season coaching the Wolves, said that was apparent during the team’s first practice.

“Everyone rose to a new level when he came out,” Zimmer said.

He said another Boddie attribute is competitiveness. Because of various injuries he has suffered the last two years, Zimmer and fellow coach Kathy Ballew wanted to ease Boddie into the season. But he was resistant when he was told that he only would compete in the 400-meter relay to start.

The school’s athletic-medicine program officials later cleared Boddie to participate in additional events. On April 26, he added the 100 sprint and finished second in 11.24 seconds in a meet against Gig Harbor and Mount Tahoma.

“We were really patient with him and I’m glad,” Zimmer said. “It’s paying off.”

But if Boddie competes collegiately, it will be on the gridiron. Some tabbed Boddie, whose father, Tony, played in the USFL and NFL, as South’s next great running back. He was felled by injuries during both of his varsity seasons, though.

On Oct. 7 against Bellarmine Prep, Boddie sustained a fractured left wrist. He returned after missing two games, but his cast limited him to playing safety. Boddie also was restricted by tendonitis in his Achilles tendon and a hip flexor.

“Injuries are frustrating,” he said, “but you just have to learn to push through it.”

D.J. Sigurdson, who coached the Wolves for 15 seasons before stepping down last month, said it would be unfair to characterize Boddie as injury prone. He said the broken wrist was a byproduct of Boddie’s physicality — he was fighting for extra yards on the play when he was hurt — and the other injuries stemmed from him continuing to add to his 6-foot-1, 184-pound frame.

Sigurdson, who thinks Boddie will be a safety at UW, does not discount the possibility that his former pupil could stay healthy and have a productive career for the Huskies.

“He’s kind of a late bloomer,” he said.

If Boddie ends up on the offensive side, he would be a second-generation college running back. His father was a standout at Bremerton High School before playing at Montana State. In the NFL, he was a captain for Denver when the Broncos advanced to Super Bowl XXII.

As far as the younger Boddie’s running style is concerned, Sigurdson said it is most comparable to Roger Cooper, who graduated in 2000, among the several standout running backs he coached at South.

“He was an upright runner with great speed,” Sigurdson said.

Boddie said he maintains regular contact with UW running-backs coach Joel Thomas, who played at Port Angeles High School before embarking upon a record-setting collegiate career at Idaho. But he does not know if that means he will be a running back for the Huskies.

“It does not matter,” Boddie said. “I am ready to play running back or safety. I just enjoy playing football and want to continue.”

And even if he does not, Boddie is excited about what is to come.

Sigurdson said that is for good reason.

“He’s very intelligent,” he said. “He’s going to get his degree no matter what.”

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