The Bonney Lake High girls soccer team has a long roster of players with a whole lot of heart.
For this year and last year’s Panthers squad, many have put their hearts into how they play the game, and the local soccer community has come to embrace them.
Many play with their hearts on their sleeves.
And there was no better example of the compassion and mentality of these girls and how they embrace Bonney Lake community than when the Panthers were given the team Sportsmanship of the Year Award by the Pierce County Referee’s Association on Sept. 13. Prior to Bonney Lake’s game with Wilson, the association presented the team a banner to hang up at the school.
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“It feels good that things you’re about as a program get re-affirmed by others — for that to come from the officials especially, it feels good. It really feel good,” Bonney Lake coach Wayne Farris said.
“(The award) means a lot, because I like to have good sportsmanship,” senior captain Jasmine Smith said. “It’s good to have to make your enemies think that you’re really nice in general. But then when you’re really good on the field too, that’s just a good thing to have.”
Sometimes it’s hard for Farris to look at his players and figure them out as individuals.
“It’s a really good award to get. I mean, it’s all of Pierce County,” Jasmine Flynn said. “For them to choose our program, that’s just really good for us because that just shows who we are as players and who we are as people.”
In his second year, Farris thought he knew everything a coach needed to know about the players under his guidance, especially what was needed to get the Panthers to return to the level of play that helped them reach the playoffs last year.
There was nothing new for Farris to discover. Or at least that’s what he thought.
“The girls really surprised me with how mature they are for their age,” Farris said. “You can forget that because they are in high school.”
On Sept. 10, Bonney Lake (2-1-2) hosted Black Hills, where the Panthers won, 3-0, to pick up their second win of the young season. Yet no matter the outcome of that game, it was always going to be a “win” for the girls as they showed more spirit than Farris could have envisioned.
“You realize it’s just a game, and that there are bigger things out there,” sophomore Kaylee Coatney said.
Jim Brown, father of Black Hills junior Isabella Brown and a Thurston County community member, was undergoing treatment for lung cancer.
When the Panthers found out, they dedicated the game to him, wearing white ribbons, made banners and focused the attention on Brown, his family and their Facebook page, Hold Fast for Jim.
#Holdfast became an outcry for the Panther team.
“It was a one-time deal for that game, but I’m still with a loss for words for how they responded,” Farris said. “Not very many of those girls have dealt with a subject like that before, and to handle it in such a respectful, thoughtful and caring way, it says a lot about who they are as a person.”
“I couldn’t have been prouder as a couch than at that moment,” he added.
These kind of acts have become the norm with the Bonney Lake program. It hasn’t gone unnoticed, as opposing teams and officials have come to respect how aggressive the Panthers can be, yet how friendly they are to everyone they meet.
“I was talking with their forwards and we were having a good time. It was just soccer out there,” said Wilson captain Scotti Russell after the Rams’ 1-0 win over Bonney Lake on Sept. 13.
Although Bonney Lake lost the game, all the Panthers demonstrated on the pitch was pure heart.
“It means I have to really be a leader, and that to everything I can to help to keep that sportsmanship (award) coming to future Panthers,” Coatney said.