Sports

Gettin' her Groves on

Between a referee’s whistle and a coach’s instruction, Sarah Groves’ distinct battle cries can be heard up and down the soccer field.

When the chatter stops, that means only one thing: she’s busy schooling her prep opponents.

The South Kitsap High School senior midfielder and 2001 Narrows League Bridge Division MVP only hopes today’s game won’t be her last in an SK uniform.

Groves and her teammates play Federal Way today at 4 p.m. at Stadium Bowl in a winner-to-state, loser-out game.

Groves said there is no “hope” of a win today. SK “will” win, she said.

Her prediction is bold, but then again, so is Groves.

“I do something I love, and I go out there to the best of my potential,” Groves said. “If people have a problem with that, then they can suck it up and leave me alone because I’m going to do my best. I don’t care what other people think. I’m not going to hold back anything I do.”

SK coach Gary Trautman said Groves’ determination at practice can upset her teammates.

“Kids get upset with her sometimes because every time she goes out on the field at practice she turns everything on and competes,” Trautman said. “Other kids will be like, ‘Hey, this is just practice.’ Megan Morey (senior goalkeeper) is the same way. I wish we had more of those kids go out there (at practice) with that same determination and glint.”

Groves said she can’t help her competitive nature.

From the first time she played soccer in fourth grade to present day, Groves said she’s always noticed she’s different from other players.

“I found I was different because I wanted to win all the time and people were like, ‘Oh, this is just for fun.’ ” Groves said. “I have always thought whatever you do you should do your best.”

Groves admits she may put off some people because of her personality on or off the field. But she would never change who she is.

“I’m a very serious person. I’m intense,” she said. “I want to be the best I can be, and I don’t think I have reached it. I’ve worked hard but there is so much I want to do.”

The first item on her docket is making it to state.

Since she was a freshman Groves said she’s always had a goal for the team to make it to state.

For the last two years the team has fallen one game short of a state berth.

She said that is going to change because she has confidence in her team.

“Soccer is a team game,” she said. “You need everybody behind you to do well. That’s what our high school team is going to need (today) is everybody coming together and helping each other out.”

A BRIGHT FUTURE LOOMS

Groves admits it’s tough to think about college while she’s still working towards a state championship.

And when soccer concludes, it’s straight to the hardwood with the SK basketball team.

While many student-athletes are looking for where they can get the most money, Groves said her only concern is finding a college where she will play.

“I’m confident in the fact that I will go to college and make something out of my life,” she said. “Whether I get full tuition paid or whether it’s half, I don’t care as long as I get to play.”

Groves has received numerous letters from colleges and hopes to latch on to a Division I or Division II school in Oregon or on the east coast.

She won’t be gone long, though.

“Most people say they want to get out of Port Orchard,” she said. “I want to live in Kitsap County my whole life. But I want to experience life first. I want to go away for four years and come back. I’d love to be a lawyer here and coach a soccer team. But right now I’m just thinking about my college education.”

WHERE IT ALL BEGAN

Groves got into soccer later than most children. Groves played on her first team as a fourth grader and immediately made an impact, Trautman said.

Groves played for Trautman’s U-11 SK United team before playing for Dwayne Carter’s FC Kitsap squad.

As an 11-year-old on SK United, Trautman said U-12 and U-13 teams were trying to get her to play for them.

“One of the really good things in watching Sarah is that she has made progress every year,” Trautman said. “Some kids get to a certain point and they kind of stay there.”

Groves’ best decision to improve her game was to commit to playing for FC Royals — a premier soccer team from Puyallup — last fall.

“Her touch was getting much better after she went to the Royals and there’s been a real change,” Trautman said. “There, it’s a fish or cut bait, and they are very up front.”

Groves’ mother, Patty Weatherill, said it still amazes her how her daughter can play prep and select soccer at the same time and follow that up with select soccer and basketball.

Last year Groves played a state championship soccer game in the morning near Vancouver and hopped in the car in time to play a district basketball game for SK.

“She never gets tired,” Weatherill said. “It’s worn me out. We travel a lot. We bought a van and after two years, we already had 48,000 miles on it.”

THE TRUTH ABOUT CLUB VS. PREP SOCCER

Groves said comparing club soccer to prep soccer is like comparing apples to oranges.

But she enjoys playing for SK and FC Royals.

It does become tiresome during the season because high schools tend to schedule two to three games a week, and then the club teams play on the weekends.

Groves said each team has it’s merits.

“In select, everybody is there for the same reason. Everyone wants to win,” she said. “In high school, there are people who want to win but it’s also so they can be a part of something besides attending classes.”

Groves said she couldn’t fathom not having after-school activities.

“It gives you something to look forward to,” she said. “I think everyone should be in high school activities. Otherwise, who wants to go to school and just learn? I can’t imagine sitting there all day and going home and doing more work.”

THERE’S ALWAYS BASKETBALL

Basketball has always been Groves’ first love.

“I’ve always loved basketball,” she said. “My ideal life would be playing basketball and soccer in college. I’ve worked really hard on my basketball skills. If I had to choose, though, it’d be soccer. But it’d be very tough.”

NEVER GIVING UP

While her intensity is always up, Groves admits she is her own worst enemy.

She said she is trying to lessen the stress she puts on herself to succeed.

“If I have a bad game I know I’ll bounce back from it,” she said. “But I won’t forget about it. I’ll think about what I need to improve on and I’ll write it down, figure it out, and work on it. I think colleges see that. They don’t want somebody who doesn’t care. If you love something you’re going to care about it.”

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