For Avalon Renninger, it’s all about others.
The 2020 graduate played three sports at Coupeville High School, and the most enjoyment she received from her four-year athletic experience came not from her own success but from the interaction with her teammates.
“I feel as though all of my fellow athletes have become more family to me than teammates,” she said. “I feel like it has become so much easier for me to be able to put my team first when I’ve been lucky enough to create such an amazing bond with all of them.”
Renninger said when things don’t go right, “the will and the drive to continue comes from the love that we all have for each other, and that is what makes it so easy to put the team first, because it’s more like putting family first.”
In addition, she said, one of the best aspects of sports is watching her younger players grow as athletes and people.
“When I was a freshman, I really looked up to the older kids on the team and what they did, so I knew that as I became older I wanted to be the player that others could look up to,” Renninger said. “I feel like the way I treat them can affect the way they treat the kids younger than themselves, so the more positive the experience I can provide to the kids I play with, the more positive the experience they can provide to those that are the future of the programs.”
Not surprisingly, Renninger said her athletic highlight was team centric. The Wolves entered the fourth quarter down by 6 points at Sultan in the final regular season basketball game this year and came back to secure an important win.
“That team victory was a really special moment in my athletic career because it showed me how strong we could be together,” she said. “We worked hard and worked as one unit, a true team, and I couldn’t have thought of a better group to celebrate with.”
While Renninger’s focus has been on her teammates, she isn’t without her own achievements.
She was a four-year starter in soccer and a three-year letter winner in basketball. In tennis, she has qualified for the district tournament the past three years and would have been a member of the varsity lineup for the fourth consecutive year had the season not been interrupted by the coronavirus.
Renninger was named team captain in all three sports, a display of respect from her coaches and teammates. As junior, she won the league sportsmanship award in basketball and was the tennis team’s most valuable player while earning first-team, all-conference honors along with doubles partner Tia Wurzrainer. As a senior, she was named the basketball team’s most inspirational player.
Coupeville tennis coach Ken Stange has known Renninger and her family for more than 10 years (he has a daughter the same age) and said Renninger, along with Wurzrainer, took over the team’s leadership roles when they entered their junior year.
“This is when I really got to see who Avalon was and what she was made of,” Stange said. “She, like me, wears her heart on her sleeve. Watching her harness those powerful emotions into great play has been a joy. She has such drive to constantly improve, and she does it while having fun. She comes early and stays late, still maintaining serious volunteer work and high grades.”
Soccer coach Kyle Nelson said, “Whether in a game or practice, Av always brought a positive attitude for herself and to her team. She would always be encouraging to her teammates, keeping everyone going in the right direction, no matter what was happening, including during those tough away games to King’s.”
Renninger said, “I can’t imagine my life if I wouldn’t have come out for three sports all four years. It kept my life very structured throughout high school. I was able to go to school, go to practice, come home and do homework, eat dinner and be able to go to sleep. The structure and commitment of playing three sports was something I craved in my life, and once I had the experience, I knew I couldn’t let it go.”
No sport is her favorite; she likes each for different reasons. She has played soccer since she was 5 with many of the girls who became her high school teammates, and it is a “group of girls that constantly support each other and keep my spirits high.”
Basketball provided “a different kind of competition” and “many volunteer opportunities,” such as helping with the youth league and camps.
Tennis requires Renninger to be reliant only upon herself and her doubles partner: “It has been a sport where we still work together and are a team, but we can really push ourselves and work hard.”
Hard work is a constant theme for Renninger and something she developed, along with perseverance, through sports.
“I have always told myself that I may not be the most talented in the room, but I will be the one who works the hardest, and that has always been the most important standard I have held myself to,” Renninger said.
In addition, athletics has taught her the “invaluable lesson that mistakes will be made” and that it is OK to ask for help. Asking for help, she added, enables “us to grow as people and athletes.”
When her senior year was interrupted by COVID-19, Renninger’s thoughts, as usual, went beyond her personal concerns.
“At the beginning of quarantine, I was pretty torn apart about the closure of school right at the end of my senior year,” she said. “All I was thinking of was the loss of my last sport, prom and graduation, which I had been waiting on for what seemed like an eternity. But it wasn’t until about June when I realized this school and community would do everything they possibly could for me and my fellow classmates. I couldn’t possibly try and feel bad for myself because there were people working tirelessly to make sure my ceremony was everything I could have possibly dreamt in this new sense of normal…I am extremely proud that I am a member of this community.”
Renninger, who stands out in the classroom as well with a 3.94 grade point average, noted that many people helped her along her athletic journey, especially her family.
“My dad (Phil Renninger) has been there for me since day one and has driven me to countless tournaments and practices, has listened to countless practice plans and has experienced all the blood, sweat and tears that come with sports,” she said. “My Nana (Jean Renninger) and Papa (Daniel Renninger) have come to literally every sporting event that I have ever had and even have their own spots in the gym that are reserved for them. I truly could not have become the athlete and person I am today without the help of my family.”