Peninsula High School
A senior at Peninsula High School, Nathan Johnson has excelled both in the classroom and in wrestling. He wrestles all three styles—Folkstyle, Freestyle and Greco-Roman—and has been to state for each. As captain of the PHS wrestling team, Nathan is a member of the National Honor Society and holds a 4.0 GPA.
“I was the academic state champion of the 138-pound weight class this previous wrestling season,” said Nathan.
Looking ahead, Nathan plans to attend a military service academy or join ROTC in college with the ultimate goal of becoming an officer in the U.S. military.
“I am extremely interested in aviation. Flying for the military will grant me the opportunity to do my part,” said Nathan, who one day would also like to be a pilot. “Also, one day after I retire, I want to become an afternoon yoga instructor. The idea of teaching yoga in the forest on summer afternoons really soothes me.”
One of his biggest challenges has been confidence. “Having confidence in a wrestling match can be the difference between a flawless victory and a saddening defeat. Confidence is sort of like water in a bucket; the more water you have the more confidence you have. When you win, do well on a test or do extra workouts, confidence is built, and your bucket is filled,” said Nathan.
Nathan shares that what he enjoys most about wrestling is the one-on-one nature of the sport. “Ultimately, winning and losing falls entirely on your own shoulders,” he said.
He adds that one of the most important life lessons he has learned through wrestling is that no matter how hard something gets, it’s better to get up and move forward rather than sit down and give up.
“Thanks to my wrestling coaches, Mark Nickels and Gary Griffin, I’ve learned to fully embrace the grind and be thankful for the opportunity to compete. Nothing worth going for in life should be easy; it should challenge you as a person. Growth isn’t a result of doing what you can but rather attempting to do what you can’t,” said Nathan.
Gig Harbor High School
Since her freshman year, senior Skylar Paul has challenged herself both athletically and academically, and it has certainly paid off. A member of the GHHS National Honors Society, Skylar has maintained a GPA of 3.908 and is one of the captains of this year’s volleyball team.
“While staying on top of my academics is something I am proud of, I also make sure that I spend as much time on the volleyball court as I can. Volleyball is a game that I am extremely passionate about, and I make sure that I don’t leave the court until I know I have ended on a good note,” said Skylar.
Skylar plans to continue her academic and athletic career at California Lutheran University, where she plans to major in biology.
“I would like to either get into sports medicine or marine biology. I have always been interested in working with athletes and helping them get back to the game they love when they’re injured,” said Skylar. “I am also interested in marine biology because I have always loved marine animals and understanding their behaviors.”
Skylar shares that what draws her to the sport of volleyball is that she loves the intensity of the game and how each rally is unique. “Plus, there is no better feeling than getting a ball up that the other team thought was down,” she said.
From an early age, Skylar has learned how to manage her time and to persevere when times were tough. “No part of me is ready to give up volleyball or give up a rigorous class load. Therefore, being able to find time for all of my assignments and practices has become easier over the years,” she said. “I am truly thankful for everything that I have learned from this sport.”