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Senior ends basketball career with more than 1,000 points
Before every game, Sawyer Kluge pops a piece of gum in her mouth.
She prefers a mint flavor.
“I can’t do without it,” Kluge said.
That’s as much as the Bremerton High School senior does for rituals prior to a basketball game. Other than pulling her long, brown hair back into a ponytail and putting on her game face, that is.
For the past four years, it’s worked for her.
Kluge was recently recognized at a Bremerton School Board of Education meeting for her stellar playing skills. The shooting guard scored a total of 1,313 points as a varsity basketball player who started as a freshman on the team.
Now, a printed sign with her jersey and name will hang in the Bremerton High School gym next to former student and NBA player Marvin Williams.
“I was very surprised,” Kluge said of the sign honor. “I didn’t know I was even close to 1,000 points. I was very proud of myself. I was mostly shocked, like, wow, that’s a lot of points.”
Kluge started out as a swing player her freshman year of high school. After coach Debbie Lindgren watched Kluge in a few games, it quickly became obvious that she needed to start as a varsity player.
“Sawyer is a natural athlete that has worked very hard over these past four years to become an excellent basketball player. She has led the league in points per game since her junior year,” said Lindgren. “She leads by example. She always gives 100 percent in practice and games and never lets her emotions get in the way.”
Although Kluge was nervous about playing with upperclassmen, she quickly fell into her place on the team. As a senior now, she understands what it means to be patient with other players who are learning.
“The team vibe I have with my team right now, that’s what I like about basketball,” she said.
Even though her team didn’t win big this year, Kluge enjoyed watching the underclassmen develop their skills, she said. Kluge’s mother and coach have also been impressed with the player’s patience when it comes to working with less experienced players.
“She took those young girls under her wing and was very supportive when she could have been a lot different,” said Laurie Rocconi, Kluge’s mother. “She’s very aggressive and plays hard when she’s out on the court. But she’s kind to her teammates.”
Coach Lindgren agrees that her favorite part of working with Kluge is watching her in action.
“When Sawyer plays basketball, it’s like watching ‘’art in movement.” Her fundamentals are solid; she has quick feet, a beautiful shot and great basketball IQ,” said Lindgren. “She is a role model to the younger players on our team and is always encouraging them and demonstrating skills for them.”
It is her natural athletic skills and kindness that Kluge hopes will lead her into the nursing field. She recently took a sports medicine class, something she feels like she’d be good at in the future. Kluge said she also plans to visit Bremerton High School to help out with some coaching during breaks from college.
While she’s waiting to hear back from colleges, Kluge continues her basketball training in the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) to keep her skills sharp. As her senior year draws to a close, Kluge said it was everything she could have hoped for on and off the court.
“It was everything I expected,” she said. “But now I’m ready to leave and go to college and do it all over again for the next four years.”