Sports

Fremd: not your typical female athlete

Jen Fremd wrestles and plays football for Oak Harbor High School. - John Fisken / Whidbey News-Times
Jen Fremd wrestles and plays football for Oak Harbor High School.
— image credit: John Fisken / Whidbey News-Times

Three sport, high school athletes are becoming more rare each year. It is even more uncommon if the combination of sports is football, wrestling and tennis. And it is truly unique if your first name is Jennifer.

Oak Harbor senior Jen Fremd has taken that usual athletic path, and this weekend she is wrapping up her wrestling career at the state finals in Tacoma where she placed fifth last year.

While it is becoming more common for girls to wrestle, it is still unusual to find one, like Fremd, who played on her high school football team for four years.

She said she was introduced to the sport in eighth-grade P.E. and “thought it was fun.” That led to going out for the high school team her freshman year.

Fremd said, “The first day of practice I was terrified.” From there she settled in and enjoyed the experience: “I suck at it, but it is fun.”

She added, “I liked the experience of playing a sport I would never get to play again after high school.”

The highlight of her career was an interception in a JV game: “I didn’t know what I was doing. The ball hit me in the hands and stuck.”

Oak Harbor coach Jay Turner said Fremd was the first Oak Harbor girl to play football for four years and the first to appear in a varsity game.

He said, “I can say that Jen has always been an extremely hard worker, never missed practice and always had a positive attitude. To be honest, I never really thought of her as being a girl out on the field, but instead I always thought of her as being a hard-working football player.”

Wrestling coach Mike Crebbin echoed Turner’s compliments about Fremd: “She’s great, a tough kid, very coachable. She is quiet, hard working and never complains.”

Crebbin added that Fremd earned the respect of her teammates: “She is one of our captains -- not of the girls team -- of the team.”

Fremd discovered that the best way to get the boys to take her seriously was by her effort in practice: “As long as you are working as hard as them, they will be aggressive.”

Fremd started wrestling in the seventh grade on a dare and was “too stubborn to quit.” She did skip her freshman year. “I was really lazy then,” she said. “It felt weird not doing it, so I went out again my sophomore year.”

She added, “I really started to like it last year after I started working hard.”

What do her parents think about their little girl venturing into the male-dominated world of wrestling and football?

“My mom is really proud of me,” she said, “because back in her time it was definitely no, she couldn’t do it. My dad is really proud too but didn’t want me to play football because he was afraid I would get hurt and not be able to wrestle.”

This spring she will join the girls tennis team: “Tennis is fun; it is easy and relaxing after wrestling.”

Her experiences taught her “you have to work hard to be successful.” She added, “It will help in the future, and it has helped make me a better person.”

Fremd, who has a 3.5 GPA, plans to study biology or bioengineering in college, where she may continue her athletic career. One of the schools she is considering, Pacific in Oregon, has wrestling. Another, Quinnipiac in Connecticut, inquired about her playing rugby.

Rugby? Why not.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Sep 17 edition online now. Browse the archives.