By David Pan Enterprise sports editor
As far as Andy Willcock and Hannah Lauber are concerned, being named the recipients of the Cliff Gillies award helped them wrap up their senior year at Edmonds-Woodway High School with an exclamation point.
The award, given annually to the school’s top student-athletes, was the culmination of two successful high school careers.
Willcock was a standout leader and player in football, basketball and baseball. But perhaps his most impressive accomplishment was excelling just as impressively in the classroom.
The Edmonds-Woodway quarterback enrolled in the IB (International Baccaureate) program and maintained a GPA close to 3.9.
“I did the IB program just because of the challenge,” Willcock said. “I didn’t want to take the easy way. I wanted to challenge myself. It was very helpful getting into a good college.”
Willcock is headed to Brown University in Rhode Island. He talked with the football coach who encouraged him to try to walk-on to the football team at the Ivy League school.
“It definitely always has been a goal for me,” Willcock said of continuing his football career in college. “I’m very lucky to have the opportunity to play at such a great school. … I feel like all the work and all the time I’ve given to the sport has paid off.”
Sports forced Willcock to schedule his time wisely.
“It taught me time management,” Willcock said. “I had to balance school and sports. … I’d go to practice or a game and do homework right before the game. I knew what I had to get done.”
Willcock also learned what it takes to be an effective leader. Being loud wasn’t one of the qualities needed.
“You speak up when you need to,” Willcock said. “You need to gain the respect of your teammates and the respect of people around you.”
Willcock is considering studying biology with an eye towards a pre-med track. Sports influenced his possible career choice.
Though he never suffered any significant injuries, he watched as some of his teammates did.
“As a long term goal, I might want to work with athletes getting back from major injuries,” Willcock said.
Being an athlete also forced Hannah Lauber to successfully manage her time, but it also taught her empathy.
“It’s always been a part of my life,” she said. “I always had to learn how to balance almost everything going on in my life. It taught me not to just look out for myself but to look out for everybody else. It shaped me into the person I am today.”
Lauber wrapped up her senior year with a third straight trip to the state volleyball championships. This year was special because as a captain, Lauber shouldered major leadership responsibilities.
She enjoyed looking out for her teammates and helping them to develop as players.
“It was fun,” Lauber said.
In the spring, Lauber played golf, a sport that was a welcome change of pace from volleyball.
“I had never really played before high school,” Lauber said. “My dad wanted me to try it. He took me to the driving range. … It was something fun to do and to stay involved in the school. I kept playing it.
“It’s all mental. It’s a totally different mindset than volleyball.”
Lauber hopes to continue her athletic career at the University of Washington, though it won’t be in volleyball or golf. She plans on trying out for the crew team.
Lauber’s parents both rowed as does Lauber’s two older sisters.
“I’ve always been surrounded by it,” Lauber said.
Family is important to Lauber. Their support throughout high school meant the world to her.
“My family’s always been there,” Lauber said. “They’ve always been supportive and told me that I can do anything.”
Lauber also appreciates the support and guidance from her coaches, especially volleyball coach Mike Pittis, who recently announced his retirement from coaching.
“Every coach I’ve had had a huge influence on me,” Lauber said. “Coach Pittis always said something good. He said play how you want to play and do what you want to do. He said always play with your heart.”