EVERETT — The Everett Community College athletic department just finished navigating itself through what was surely the most challenging year in the school’s sporting history. From delayed starts to seasons, to shortened schedules, to near-daily testing for athletes, the coronavirus pandemic made 2020-21 a season like no other in school history.
There’s another reason why this season was like no other for Everett: near-unprecedented success.
Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC) sports came to their conclusion last weekend, and the Trojans emerged with four official North Region championships and two unofficial region titles. It’s the type of all-around excellence the athletic department hasn’t experienced in more than 70 years.
“Just like everybody we were dealing with all the challenges, and I couldn’t be more proud — regardless of the record of any team — with how they persevered through all of it, grabbed the bull by the horns by following all the protocols, and did what they had to do to compete,” Everett athletic director Garet Studer said. “Thankfully the administration was supportive in allowing us to play, we had several meetings about how to get things in place to follow protocols.
“There were so many reasons why things could have been pulled apart, or players could have said they just weren’t going to play this year,” Studer continued, noting that the athlete retention rate — Everett had 169 athletes registered in the fall quarter and 135 in the spring — was right about where it is during a normal school year. “But they stuck it out. It was really awesome to see, and I couldn’t be more proud of what the student-athletes did and what the way the coaches held everybody together.”
Everett competes in 11 different sports, six for women and five for men. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, all 11 held their seasons in February or later. The four teams that claimed region championships were baseball, softball and both men’s and women’s basketball as they all finished with the best winning percentages in the North Region. Men’s and women’s track and field won unofficial region titles as they placed first at the Northwest Region meet.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s competition was limited to contests against teams within the region in team sports, and there were no NWAC Championships, meaning Everett’s region-championship teams accomplished the maximum.
“Just because there weren’t NWAC Championships doesn’t change the amount of work everybody was doing,” Studer said. “They still were working hard in practice, competing to win games and getting it done in the classroom. Being a funky year it would have been easy to have the excuse for not putting in the effort, but the student-athletes absolutely put in the effort to be successful and it’s nice to see them recognized for that.”
The only other time in school history that Everett had this kind of success was way back in 1947-48, when the Trojans won Washington State Junior College Athletic Conference titles in football, men’s golf, men’s basketball, men’s tennis and men’s track and field. The closest Everett has come in recent years was 2012-13, when the Trojans won NWAC titles in women’s cross country and baseball and added a region title in women’s soccer.
While there were no NWAC Championships played, there was a tournament feeling for three of Everett’s champions as the title came down the the final day, thus sparking on-court and on-field celebrations.
In women’s basketball, the region boiled down to a one-game, winner-takes-all contest between Everett and Bellevue last Saturday at the Walt Price Student Fitness Center. Everett, which was forced into a 14-day quarantine early in the season and played much of the campaign with just six players, rallied from a 2-3 start to win seven straight heading into the final game. The Trojans, behind 15 points and 12 rebounds from Snohomish High School graduate Courtney Perry, 14 points and 10 rebounds from Shorecrest High School graduate Sydney VanNess, and 13 points and 10 rebounds from Marysville Getchell graduate Mikail Montez, raced out to a big lead and coasted to a 67-51 victory to finish 10-3 and edge Bellevue by percentage points. It was Everett’s first region title in women’s’ hoops sine 2007-08.
In men’s basketball, Everett went into its final game, also at home against Bellevue last Saturday, needing to win in order to finish ahead of Skagit Valley for the region title. Cam Millicen drained four 3-pointers en route to a team-high 16 points, while Brendan Redford added 13 points and 14 rebounds and Devin Smith added 10 points and 12 boards in Everett’s 70-64 victory. The Trojans, who won their final six games to finish 12-6, won their fourth straight region title under coach Mike Trautman, who earned his 100th career victory in the process.
In baseball, Everett headed into last weekend’s season-concluding four-game series against Skagit Valley leading Bellevue by one game. Bellevue’s final series was against last-place Olympic, so the Trojans went in with the mindset that they needed to win all four games to claim the title. Everett won three of four, finishing 24-8, and Bellevue unexpectedly lost two of four to Olympic as the Trojans finished in first place by two games. Marysville Pilchuck High School graduate Jordan Justice led the offense by slugging a team-high seven homers, while Snohomish High School graduate Zach Boswell paced the pitching staff by going 6-1 with a 2.65 ERA.
In comparison, Everett’s softball team breezed to its region title. The Trojans finished 20-4, which was six games better than second-place Bellevue, to claim their first region title since 2006-07. Lake Stevens High School graduate Kaylie Hoskins was dominant in the circle, going 10-1 with an NWAC-leading 2.06 ERA. She struck out an astounding 173 batters in 85 innings, which was the third-highest single-season strikeout total in school history, despite appearing in just 15 games. Kayla Tuaoa was equally good at the plate, batting .476 with a .902 slugging percentage.
Studer said the current plan is for NWAC to get back to business as usual for the 2021-22 school year. Fall sports are currently scheduled to begin in August, and teams are being allowed to schedule opponents from outside their regions.
Raney hired to coach men’s soccer
Everett has hired Kieran Raney as its new men’s soccer coach. Raney, a former All-Wesco player at Snohomish High School, has spent the past three seasons coaching the Arlington High School boys soccer team, which he guided to an 8-1 record this past season. He will continue coaching the Arlington boys, as Everett CC’s season is in the fall and Arlington’s is in the spring.
Raney takes over for Winfred Smith, who guided the Trojans to a 2-6-1 record in 2020-21 in his lone season in charge.