Lynnwood’s Athletes of the Year: Molly Hunsinger and Randall Eldridge

  • David Pan<br>Enterprise sports editor
  • Friday, February 29, 2008 11:31am

Lynnwood High School’s Athletes of the Year — Molly Hunsinger and Randall Eldridge — share many of the same characteristics.

The two senior standouts excelled in a variety of sports, earning numerous all-Western Conference honors through the years. Both took on important leadership roles on their respective teams.

But above all else, Hunsinger and Eldridge will be remembered for the passion they brought to their athletic pursuits.

For as long as she can remember, sports have been a major part of Hunsinger’s life.

“It’s what I love to do,” she said.

Hunsinger earned 11 varsity letters in volleyball, basketball and tennis and never considered abandoning one of her sports.

“I honestly can’t choose. If I had to chose one, I don’t know what I would do,” Hunsinger said. “I don’t think I’d get bored if I did one sport. But there are so many things about each one that I like that I want to play all of them.”

Hunsinger holds the school volleyball record for most kills in a state tournament match (34) and best career average kills per match (14).

Because of her passion for basketball and volleyball, Hunsinger plans to play both of them at the University of Puget Sound.

Lynnwood girls basketball coach Jon Rasmussen said that playing two sports in college is a major challenge.

“If anyone can succeed, she can,” Rasmussen said.

For Rasmussen, the loss of a four-year letter winner is a significant blow for the Royals.

Hunsinger was a team captain her junior and senior seasons. She was the first-ever junior captain during Rasmussen’s four-year tenure.

“She was a great leader. She was looked up to by her teammates and respected by her teammates so much,” said Rasmussen, who added that it is rare for an underclassmen to be viewed as a leader by her fellow players.

Hunsinger always showed respect for her opponents and her teammates.

“She treated every player the same,” Rasmussen said. “You couldn’t tell if she was talking to an upperclassman or an underclassman … one of the biggest things is she was a star but she never acted as a star or you would not have guessed it until she played.”

The two people most responsible for Hunsinger’s success have had a front row seat all four years. Hunsinger’s parents, Paul and Lisa, have been the two constants throughout their daughter’s athletic career.

Their support has meant everything to Hunsinger.

In the 10 or 11 years she has been participating in sports, Hunsinger knew one of her parents would be there to support her.

“One of them is always there,” said Hunsinger, who also has an older and younger brother.

Hunsinger sometimes had a teammate whose parents weren’t able to make it out to the games or were able to only attend one or two.

“I can’t imagine how that would feel,” Hunsinger said. “I’ve played at least three sports year round my whole life and they haven’t missed a thing.”

Randall Eldridge learned many lessons through his athletic endeavors but perhaps the most important one was humility.

Eldridge joined the varsity football team his sophomore year and for the next three seasons, Lynnwood did not post a single victory.

The losses didn’t deter Eldridge, who kept coming back.

“I love football,” Eldridge said. “It wasn’t a matter of losing or winning even though I don’t like losing. Football is my sport. No matter what, I’m going to play. I’m not going to get discouraged no matter what.”

Prior to coming to Lynnwood, Eldridge experienced a lot of success, so losing was new to him.

“It really humbled me. Before I came in, I was used to winning,” Eldridge said. “I had a pretty big head. (Losing) taught me to be humble and it taught me to work hard.

“It was a learning experience. I tried to handle it pretty well and tried to keep my head up.”

First-year Lynnwood football coach Andrew Burton describes Eldridge as a quiet leader and one who led by example. Eldridge also was his own worst critic.

“Randall is a soft spoken type of guy,” Burton said. “He doesn’t say very much. He’s pretty hard on himself. He works extremely hard … he was a great captain.”

And he was one of the top players in the Western Conference South Division in Burton’s opinion.

“He was explosive,” said Burton. “His ability to not only elude tackles but break tackles made him a great running back. He’s very fluid. He’s a lot of fun to watch on offense. On defense, he had the field presence to know where he’s at and great spatial awareness of where he needs to be … he has the ability to play just about any position on the field.”

Eldridge was eager to learn Burton’s new system and stayed with it even through the tough times.

“Defensively, he was moved weekly,” Burton said. “Offensively, he learned an entirely different system … he looked past the problems. If anything, he almost looked at problems as opportunities.”

While Eldridge did not experience a victory on the football field, this spring he helped lead the Lynnwood boys track team to an Edmonds District championship.

The victory was especially satisfying because the Royals had only seven individuals on the team.

“It was a great accomplishment, especially with the (small) amount of people we had,” Eldridge said.

Eldridge advanced to the state track meet two years in a row, competing in the triple jump as junior and the triple and long jumps and the 400 relay as a senior.

The success Eldridge experienced in track was somewhat unexpected as he originally came out for the team at the urging of one of his friends.

“It was a surprise to me. I didn’t know I was that good,” Eldridge said. “It showed me that my dedication paid off.”

Eldridge is hoping to continue his football career after high school. He is looking at junior colleges in California with the thought that he also might want to do some track on the side.

Burton sees a bright football future for Eldridge.

“He has the talent to play at the next level,” he said.

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