- Athletes of the Month. By Patty Hutchens.
Athletes of the Month: Kirsten Ritchie & Diavionne DeWalt
Peninsula High School
Photo By: Jenna Kearn Photography
For Kirsten Ritchie, participating in sports has taught her many lessons that she will apply throughout her life.
“I have learned how to communicate clearly from talking to my coaches, and I have learned to build a good work ethic through years of practices and games,” said the 18-year-old senior who attends Peninsula High School.
Kirsten plays varsity fast pitch and softball and has also played basketball. When all is said and done this spring, she will have eight varsity letters. “I have two All-League honors in basketball and three in fast pitch so far,” said Kirsten, who has served as captain for both the varsity fast-pitch and softball teams for PHS. She has also received the scholar athlete award in both of her sports every year and was named the South Sound Conference female student athlete for winter of this year.
During her years at Peninsula High School, Kirsten said she has been challenged by having so many coaches—four basketball coaches and two softball coaches. But the challenge of building a new program nearly every year was met with the help of her teammates. “They provided me and our programs with the stability needed to create a team,” said Kirsten.
In the fall, she plans to attend Western Washington University where she will pursue a career in a health-care field, possibly becoming a pediatric nurse. “I also hope to incorporate travel and activism into my future plans.”
Looking back on her time playing sports, Kirsten said it is the people she will miss the most: “My favorite thing about sports are the relationships I have created with my coaches and teammates.”
Gig Harbor High School
A senior at Gig Harbor High School, Diavionne DeWalt has been recognized for her athletic excellence by many. She has been named the MVP several times on her club teams, received the Athletic Brilliance Award from the GEMS organization and received the Blake Memorial Award. Diavionne will attend Prairie View A&M University on a fast-pitch scholarship and plans to major in architecture and possibly business with a goal of one day starting her own architecture company.
“When I was younger, I always loved looking at different styles of buildings or homes,” said Diavionne. “Once I got older, I liked drawing houses and floor plans and using a computer to create structures.”
With a bright future ahead of her, Diavionne has also experienced significant heartache as well. Her father passed away in February. Going back to playing ball after his death was one of the biggest challenges she has ever faced.
“He’s the person that got me into sports and the first person that I threw a ball with. He taught me the basics and was there for me through it all. I’m grateful to have the support of my mom, Ja-Angel DeWalt, and other friends and family to support me in the future,” said Diavionne. “They have played a big part in everything I’ve done, and I appreciate them being there for me and helping me stay focused on getting me to the next level.”
Diavionne also expressed her appreciation to one of her former coaches, Felitia Conley, who she said taught her important life lessons.
“She said, ‘It’s not about you when you get up to the plate; it’s about that person in front of you and the person behind you. Your job is to help them, and they will help you,’” recalled Diavionne. “When I first heard it, it was almost like I fully understood the game for once. Everything seemed to make sense, and the concept of the game for me changed. I stopped playing for myself, and instead I played to make my teammates better and push them to be their best.”
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