Sports

Westermann healthy, happy with Wolves on a roll

She freely admits that life was pretty easy as a two-sport starter.

A pair of supportive parents. An academic portfolio that gives her the choice of many universities without athletics.

But the journey through life never remains without its challenges and South Kitsap senior Kaileigh Westermann experienced perhaps her first significant one during basketball last season.

She said she landed awkwardly after she corralled a rebound late in a game last January against Stadium. Westermann hoped to reenter the game, but her left knee began to swell and coach Mike Allen wouldn’t allow her to return. She later learned that the knee was dislocated and would require surgery to “take a chip of bone out.”

“When I went into the doctor and they told me I had to have surgery, I was terrified,” she said. “I think the worst thing I had before that was maybe a sprained ankle.”

While Westermann acknowledges that many people have overcome issues that dwarf hers, it was difficult nonetheless.

“Sports has been like my entire life and when I found out that I was hurt and couldn’t play anything, that was really hard for me,” she said.

It was particularly difficult to sit on the sidelines as the Wolves won just one of the final nine games she missed. A 64-40 loss in the season finale at Central Kitsap left South with a 2-18 record.

“I remember our last game at CK I completely broke down because I couldn’t be out there,” Westermann said. “It was frustrating to watch my team struggle and know that I couldn’t do anything about it.”

Even though she couldn’t help her teammates salvage the season, Westermann was encouraged that she had another year of high school left, and dedicated herself to rehabilitation. Under the guidance of South athletic trainer Patrick Olsen and his assistants, Westermann said she worked on her leg strength with squat and weight training because “I lost all my muscle in my leg.”

“I think that experience has taught me that I can push through that,” she said. “If something is going to push me, I can push back.”

Rehabilitation continued into August, but Westermann returned in time for soccer season and helped the Wolves finish one win away from the state tournament. South allowed an average of one goal per match and Westermann and teammate Ashley Polen earned first-team all-Narrows League honors as a defender.

Soccer was a natural sport for Westermann as her mother, Sabrina, played at Western Washington. Given that she’s 5 foot 11, basketball also made sense and Allen is happy to have her back this season.

“She’s the last one to leave practice pretty much every day,” he said. “She understands competition and doesn’t shy away from it.”

The Wolves earned their fourth consecutive win Wednesday, 36-31, against Gig Harbor and improved to 8-9. While she’s excited about the team’s prospects, she knows there will be a difficult decision in front of her soon: basketball or soccer?

She is considering California State University, Stanislaus for soccer and also is looking at Eastern Washington and the University of Portland for basketball.

Westermann, who maintains a 3.7 grade-point average, would like to major in marine biology and plans to use her degree to work in some sort of environmental position.

When she’s not playing sports, Westermann might be found reciting film dialogue with her friends. Her favorite movies include the “Sound of Music” and the “James Bond” series.

After all, a healthy Westermann is an agent for South’s success.

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