Sports

Senter of attention

Craig Senter has never been the fastest guy around. Nor the tallest, biggest or strongest. But every year, there he is, making big plays for the football team, getting the clutch hit for the baseball team or qualifying for the state wrestling tournament.

It’s never come easy for the South Kitsap senior, but then he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It’s not necessarily working really hard. It’s working smarter not harder,” Senter said. “I’ve always just taken that to heart. Why work real hard and do something wrong when you can not work as hard but in the right direction correcting mistakes and those type of things.”

That’s a phrase Senter got from assistant coach Eric Canton and he’s lived by it for the last four years, earning varsity letters in football, qualifying for the state wrestling tournament twice and, now, playing varsity baseball.

Senter is one of those rare athletes who moves quickly and smoothly from season to season, sport to sport.

“The thing about him that I think he does is that he never takes himself out of it because of his mental makeup,” South Kitsap football coach D.J. Sigurdson said. “He works tremendously hard. He gets himself physically ready, as ready as he can be, and then he never takes himself out of it mentally.”

That’s a huge compliment to one of South’s favorite sons. Sigurdson has said in the past he would like to have a 1,000 Craig Senters. Wrestling coach Chad Nass once said Senter was the hardest worker he’s ever seen. Baseball coach Jim Fairweather goes even a bit further.

“He’s one of my absolute favorites,” Fairweather said. “I like everything about him. He’s just one of those kids that isn’t going to get outworked by anyone.”

Senter has used a combination of hard work and game smarts to compile an impressive list of accomplishments at South. But there were times when he doubted himself.

Like when he was a sophomore and his friends kept telling him to quit football and concentrate on wrestling. They told him he was too slow, not big enough and would end up not playing at all or getting hurt.

“I did a lot of thinking about that,” Senter said. “Am I going to be good enough to play football? Football’s too much fun, and I don’t want to quit. I just don’t like quitting a sport. I feel like once I start playing, I’m obligated to myself that I have to finish the sport.”

Sigurdson was happy to see him stay and become a part of the Wolves’ dominant defensive backfield.

“The biggest thing about him, his biggest strength is he’s always ready for whatever comes up,” Sigurdson said. “He understands it’s a war, not just a battle. That one play doesn’t mean the end all be all. He knows he’ll get another chance at it. He able to wipe the slate keep and move on to the next thing.”

His knowledge of the game is a key part to his success.

“I think that’s helped me a lot,” Senter said. “In football, just knowing the plays. And knowing exactly what to do. Even if you’re not the fastest or strongest you can still execute the play.

“It’s being coachable,” Senter said. “It’s letting them teach you and coach you and then remembering those things and practicing them.”

Senter was a four-year varsity wrestler and it was that sport that had him digging deep to find himself.

“The whole thing about wrestling for me was, ‘Are you going to give up,’ ” Senter said. “I’ve wrestled kids so many times that in the third round they knew they were probably going to lose and they’d just give up.

“I can never understand why they’d do that,” Senter said. “That’s what made me a better wrestler. It’s all about not quitting.”

That’s a belief that was harbored in him at a young age and one that has grown on its own.

“It’s a little bit of both,” Senter said. “My parents were really avid about instilling really good morals, like making the right decisions and that quitting is not acceptable most of the time.”

Quitting the baseball team was never an option, either, even as friends and fellow teammates like Pat Kelly, Chris Anderson, Aaron Cunningham and Josh Fullington were up on the varsity last year winning a state title while Senter toiled on the junior varsity.

“I really had doubts about how good I was at baseball,” Senter said. “It was tough because of how strong our team was last year. “

“And at the same time, you’re watching these guys excel at the next level,” Senter said. “And you’re wondering about next year because all those guys will be playing in front of you and you wonder where your spot will be. Even coming into this year, I had doubts.

“But it was one of those things where you can’t doubt yourself,” Senter said. “You have to just go out and play. Don’t whine about it. Just work hard and get out there and play.”

Again his work ethic payed off as he is a part-time starter on the Wolves’ baseball team.

“What I like about him is the fact he knows he’s got limitations,” Fairweather said. “Craig is a realist and he understands he’s not big, he’s not fast and he’s not strong but he doesn’t let that stop him. He always finds a way.”

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