Fremd, Washington receive OHHS's Athlete of the Year honor

Jennifer Fremd, shown above pinning an opponent in the regional tournament, went on to finish third in the state. - John Fisken / Whidbey News-Times
Jennifer Fremd, shown above pinning an opponent in the regional tournament, went on to finish third in the state.
— image credit: John Fisken / Whidbey News-Times

Move over Captain Kirk, Oak Harbor High School's 2012 Athletes of the Year, Jennifer Fremd and Mike Washington Jr., "boldly went where no man (or woman) has gone before."

Fremd was the first female to play football for Oak Harbor for four years and the first to appear in a varsity game. In addition, she was a standout wrestler and competed for the Wildcat tennis team.

Washington Jr. set an OHHS career basketball scoring record and was among the leading football receivers for the Wildcats the past three years.

While Fremd's football experience may be her most unique exploit, her primary focus was on the wrestling mat. She qualified for state two times, finishing fifth as a junior and third as a senior.

Her impact went beyond the state podium. Head wrestling coach Mike Crebbin said, "Jen brought leadership to our program by example. Every drill, every practice, every match, she gave her best and strove to improve. Jen is a quiet warrior."

Crebbin praised Fremd's work ethic and called her "a tough competitor." He noted she would be upset if she couldn't practice when she was sick or injured and "would run the extra sprints while battling to control her asthma."

Assistant coach Larry Falcon, who guided the girls in the OHHS program, said, "Jennifer has been an instrumental part of the growing women’s wrestling program at OHHS…She was a quiet leader, led by example, pushed her team by pushing herself…Her perseverance and dedication to the sport of wrestling has set the quiet standard for all women in the program.

"She climbed many obstacles that many could only aspire to. She made them reality and tangible for not only herself, but also for others."

Fremd's qualities were also evident in football and tennis.

Football coach Jay Turner said, "Jen was an extremely hard worker, never missed practice and always had a positive attitude."

Tennis coach Horace Mells said Fremd worked her way from a beginner as a freshman to No. 3 singles as a senior and called her a "team player" and a "valuable asset" to his program. This spring she posted a 9-3 singles record and was the second Wildcat to reach the 90-mile-per-hour Club with a 94 MPH serve.

Fremd said she was "kind of surprised" she received the Athlete of the Year honor and would have never considered it four years ago when she started. She said she "worked hard" and invested many hours into activities she "didn't naturally excel at."

She said the sports "have become something close to my heart and being, so it means a lot to get this honor."

Of all her accomplishments, she is most proud of being named wrestling team captain: "That's a serious title and I feel one that I had to earn."

Fremd said Oak Harbor athletes are "seriously lucky to have such a great group of coaches, at least in football, wrestling and tennis."

"Not one of the football coaches," she said, "even batted an eye when I turned in my paperwork. None of them thought any less of me, expected less of me or treated me any differently than they did the other guys."

She said Falcon was her first wrestling coach in middle school and the one who "pushed me to work harder if I wanted to get better, as well as one who supported me through a lot of it."

She emphasized that the wrestling team as a whole, the athletes and coaches, encouraged her to excel and treated her as a member of the family.

In regard to the wrestling coaches, she said, "You aren't just some kid but one of their kids."

She said Mells taught technique, listened to the team and was willing to get involved in "our shenanigans."

Fremd, who chose the unusual path of playing football and wrestling, said, "Sports have no bias by themselves to male or female, their law is ruled by those with the will to compete and the work ethic to back it up."

Fremd now heads to Quinnipiac University in Connecticut where she will major in biology and play rugby.

Washington Jr. will also head East for college, playing basketball for Princeton University in New Jersey.

Washington was the second four-year varsity basketball starter for the Wildcats in the past 50 years and broke the school scoring record of the other, Brannon Stone, rimming in 1,526 points. Stone scored 1,427 from 1994 to '98.

Washington earned all-league honors all four years, including first-team as a junior and senior. This year he was one of 30 Washington players nominated for the national McDonald's all-star game.

He scored 41 points in a game this winter, the second most in school history, and hit 40 in a game as a junior.

Washington Jr. was coached by his father, Mike Washington Sr., who said of his son: "He brought a desire to compete and work hard all the time to our program. He was someone that could score 30 on any given night. Even when we were down in games, he always gave his all, even when he was sick. He will be missed."

Washington Jr. decided to give football a try his sophomore year and immediately made an impact, earning second-team all-league. This fall he was second on the team in receptions, yardage and receiving touchdowns and All-Wesco 3A honorable mention.

Turner said, "Obviously Mike is very gifted athletically, but to me his biggest asset to our team was his leadership. He was always a leader in games, during practices and, more importantly, in the classroom. In order to have success on the field you have to have athletes, but you also have to have strong leadership from the seniors, and Mike brought this every day."

Since he will be playing basketball in college, Washington Jr. said what he will most miss about competing for Oak Harbor High School will be "Friday nights (football); there is nothing like it."

He will also miss playing basketball with his sophomore brother Drew: "We complemented each other well on the court. When I was having an off night, he was there to pick up the slack. When we were both on, like when we upset ninth-ranked Shorewood, we were tough to beat."

Although he broke the school scoring record, he is most proud of "maintaining a high GPA while competing year round." Washington Jr. graduated with a 3.989 grade point average. "I got an A-minus in geometry my freshman year," he said. "I think it was the highest grade in the class."

"I am happy with the scoring record," he said, "but I am more proud that we got to go to the playoffs twice and to be a part of that." Oak Harbor qualified for district the past two seasons; the first back-to-back appearances since 1992 and '93.

He identified his parents, Mike Sr. and Rebecca, and football coaches Turner and Mike Fisher as having the biggest impact on his success: "Whether I had a problem in school or in general, I could go to them."

He will major in economics at Princeton and will travel there in July to begin early workouts. As of now the 6-3 guard does not plan to redshirt. He said the coaches told him could see some playing time as a freshman. "They said it is up to me and how hard I work," Washington Jr. said.

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