Wolves' Osterdahl a model on, off the court(s)

Previous Port Orchard Independent Female Athletes of the Year

2008: Kaileigh Westermann

2007: Madison Rousell

2006: Madison Rousell

2005: Brittany Miller

2004: Stephanie Davison

For Stephanie Osterdahl, sports are connection through transition.

For that reason, choosing an extracurricular activity was easy when the Port Orchard native’s family returned to town in 2006 after four years living in Georgia. She immediately got involved with South Kitsap’s volleyball program to help integrate into the high-school scene.

Osterdahl won’t be playing volleyball or basketball at Gonzaga University, but she nevertheless plans to immerse herself in campus life through sports. The 6-foot-1 Osterdahl plans to walk on to the Bulldogs’ crew team.

“I went to orientation and some of the girls approached me,” she said. “It’s another great way to meet people.”

According to coach Jessica Anderson, Osterdahl developed from a “painfully shy” middle blocker when she entered the Wolves’ volleyball program to a captain her senior year. She finished with 88 kills (.123 efficiency rating), 15 solo blocks, 17 block assists and 20 aces during the fall as South finished with a 9-11 overall record and 5-5 in Narrows League play.

“She’s a model student,” Anderson said last fall. “She’s grown up through the team to become a confident young woman.”

That combination of leadership and success in two sports earned Osterdahl honors as the Port Orchard Independent’s Female Athlete of the Year.

It hasn’t always been easy, though.

Osterdahl played varsity as a sophomore — along with fellow 2009 graduates Tori Fairweather and Samantha Gulisao — during the 2006-07 season when the girls basketball team finished 2-17.

“It was a little disheartening because I didn’t get too play much even though we weren’t doing well,” she said. “Later on in the season, more people got to play because some of the older girls weren’t playing with heart.”

Two years later, the senior-laden Wolves advanced to state for the first time since 2000. Osterdahl averaged 7.5 points per game — second best on the team — and 4.7 rebounds per game.

“Going to state definitely was the highlight for me,” she said. “I think we knew what our strengths are and what it was going to take to get to state.”

South accomplished that despite having only one player, junior post Molly Werder, who averaged as many as 10 points per game. The Wolves also had to win three consecutive West Central District playoff games to advance to state.

Osterdahl hopes her legacy on that team and throughout her time at South was as someone who “always was hard working and someone the girls could come talk to.”

After she completes her summer clerical position with the FAA, Osterdahl will continue learning about people at Gonzaga. She said Anderson’s psychology class “struck a chord” with her, and she plans to major in the subject.

“Stephanie is the type of kid every coach wants to have,” Anderson said. “She’s a leader on and off the court.”

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