With help from coaches, fans, media and local sports historians, Scorebook Live has put together its lists of the best athletes — male and female — to emerge from every county in the state of Washington. We looked back as far as the turn of the 20th century, and we examined the totality of each athletes’ career, not only what they did in high school.
As comprehensive as our lists are, we also want to hear your opinions. We have included polls where you can vote for the best male and female athletes by county. You can also leave your comments below or hit us up on Twitter @sblivewa.
From Ron Holmes, to Jonathan Stewart, to Kasey Keller, Thurston County has produced several world-class male athletes. Take a look at Scorebook Live’s list of the top male athletes to ever come out of Thurston County and cast your vote in the poll.
(The list is in alphabetical order.)
BEST MALE ATHLETES IN THURSTON COUNTY HISTORY
High School: Timberline
Notable stats: Logged a career-best 9.0 sacks in 1989 with the Broncos.
A unanimous All-American selection as a linebacker-turned lineman at Washington, Holmes got his start at Timberline as a multi-sport athlete.
He was the second leading scorer on Timberline’s 1980 class AAA state basketball championship team under coach John Patton, but his future was brighter on the gridiron. Holmes grew into the Pac-10’s top lineman and helped the Huskies win the 1985 Orange Bowl.
Holmes was the eighth overall pick in the 1985 NFL Draft and played eight years in the NFL, four with the Buccaneers and four with the Broncos. He started at linebacker in Super Bowl XXIV in 1990.
High School: North Thurston
Notable stat: The U.S. Soccer Federation awarded Keller athlete of the year three times (1997, 1999, 2005).
In high school, Keller missed so many days of school traveling internationally with the under-20 U.S. national team, he almost had to repeat his senior year at North Thurston.
Keller’s more than 20-year professional career included several stops in the English Premier League and the Bundesliga. He left a lasting legacy on the U.S. Men’s National Team, making 102 appearances, 53 wins and 47 shutouts. He remains the shutout leader. He finished out his career with the Seattle Sounders, and was named MLS goalkeeper of the year in 2011.
In college, Keller played for University of Portland under the late Clive Charles. He played in a Final Four as a freshman and won national goalkeeper of the year as a senior.
High School: Capital
Notable stats: Lee hit a home run on opening day of the first and last year of his MLB career — the only player to ever do so.
1996 was a big year for Travis Lee.
The former Capital two-sport standout was selected second overall in the MLB Draft on the heels of winning the Golden Spikes Award, honoring the country’s top amateur player. He made his MLB debut in 1998 and played nine seasons. His best season came in 2003, when he hit .275 with 70 RBI, 19 home runs and 75 runs scored for Tampa Bay.
Lee, who threw with his left hand as a first baseman, was a right-handed quarterback for Capital. Won a bronze medal representing the US as a baseball player in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
High School: North Thurston
Notable stats: After a multi-year absence from the NFL, he caught a career-best seven touchdown passes in 2005.
Sellers took an improbable, unprecedented route to becoming a yearslong NFL starter and Pro Bowl selection.
After blooming late in his high school career that was capped with a monster senior season, Sellers went to Walla Walla Community College, dropped out and wound up getting a chance to play with the Edmonton Eskimos in the CFL at age 19 — making him the league’s youngest player in history.
After being cut by the Browns in 2001, Sellers returned to the CFL . He re-signed with the Washington Redskins in 2005, which proved to be the break he needed. Sellers wound up signing an extension and staying seven years with the franchise.
At North Thurston, Sellers was a running back of the year selection by the state sports writer’s association in 1992. He also played basketball and ran track.
High School: Timberline
Notable stat: Stewart is the state’s all-time leading career rusher with 7,755 yards.
Simply put, where Jonathan Stewart went, hype came with him and dominance followed.
Stewart amassed 7,755 yards and 105 touchdowns over the course of his high school career. His senior year, he put together a 422-yard, nine-touchdown outing against Centralia and was an All-American according to Parade and USA Today as well Gatorade player of the year.
At Oregon, Stewart rushed his way into All-American contention and remains one of the greatest backs in the program’s history. He went 13th overall in the 2008 NFL Draft and went on to become the leading rusher in Carolina Panthers history — 7,318 yards and 51 touchdowns. He was a Pro Bowl selection in 2015.
At Timberline, he set the school record in the 100-meter dash (10.78 seconds), and ran the 60-meter dash at Oregon.
(Jonathan Stewart feature photo by Keith Allison)
Mark Bigelow, Olympia (basketball) – Standout guard/forward at BYU finished the program’s career 3-point record holder and was the only player in BYU history alongside Danny Ainge to score 400-plus points per season.
Kevin Clark, Tumwater (football, track) – Won five state track championships and two more in football before playing football for USC.
Dale Ford, North Thurston (everything) – State champ in football, basketball and the 1961 state basketball player of the tournament with 26 points per game. He went on to play baseball, football and basketball at Washington State — which is unheard of today. Started at quarterback for two seasons. Played in the College World Series in 1965.
Gabe Garrett, River Ridge (track and field) – State champion in the 100, 200 and 400 meters who was a decathlon national champion for his age group. Went to Tennessee before transferring back to Washington State.
Dean Halverson, Olympia (football) – Played seven seasons in the NFL for three different teams from 1968-1975. Was a standout linebacker at University of Washington under head coach Jim Owens.
Gary Holmes, North Thurston (football) – A defensive tackle for Washington State who was an all-state football selection, a lumbering 6-6 presence on the hardwood and threw the javelin. Helped WSU win the Rose Bowl in 1998.
Jerramy Stevens, River Ridge (football) – A high school quarterback, Stevens turned into a tight end and had an All-Pac 10 career at Washington, was a first round NFL Draft pick. Three-sport standout (basketball, track) in high school.
Bud Ward, Olympia (golf) – Finished one shot shy of a playoff in the 1939 U.S. Open as an amateur. Was a two-time U.S. Amateur winner (1939, 1941) with 15 career wins.