By Mike Maltais
Prominently displayed in the trophy case inside the entrance of Liberty Bell High School is a commemorative cup forever immortalizing the names of those girls who were the first on the field as the school’s inaugural Lady Lions’ varsity soccer team 12 years ago.
The Founder’s Cup
Liberty Bell High School’s Inaugural Soccer Team
Engraved on the base of the cup are 16 names: Madison Bradshaw, Melissa Bradshaw, Kelsey Bourn, Addie Estes, Amelia Fine-Morrison, Leah Fisher, Hailey Garing, Kate Honsinger, Devin Lloyd, Marlena Mehaffie, Amanda Plowman, Randi Walsh, Regan Walsh, Jaime Welfelt and Lindsay Welfelt.
While 2000 was the first year the girls played varsity soccer, they didn’t take the field as an all-girls’ team until 2002.
Under the guidance of current coaches Mike Wilson and Erik Olson, LBHS varsity girls’ soccer has — judged from the standpoint of both athletic and academic achievement — evolved into one of the most well-balanced programs in the school’s history.
Barely three years after the girls first walked onto the varsity soccer pitch and only a year after they split off from the co-ed boys’ team, the Lady Lions placed fourth in 1A state soccer competition in 2003 — then repeated in 2004. That ranking was exceeded only last year by the 2013 Lady Lions team that finished third in state 2B.
Along the way the soccer girls have further distinguished themselves by capturing the coveted Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s academic championship as a 1A team in 2004 and for the last five consecutive years at the top of the 2B ranks.
It is altogether fitting that the News takes a look back at this remarkable group of young scholar-athletes who formed the core of one of Liberty Bell’s most notable athletic-academic success stories.
Started as co-ed
Liberty Bell’s varsity soccer program began in 2000 with a co-ed team that competed against junior varsity opponents through the 2000 and 2001 seasons. The team went winless, 0-6, through 2000 and improved to 4-10-1 overall in 2001. Under co-ed rules, four girls had to be on the field at all times. In 2002, Liberty Bell was allowed to field a boys’ soccer team for the spring season and a girls’ team for fall competition, and the girls hit the pitch with a purpose.
In 2002 the Lady Lions placed fourth in the 1A Caribou Trail League with a 6-6-2 overall win-loss record.
In 2003 the varsity girls nearly went all the way when they defeated favored LaSalle in an overtime shootout to advance to the state final four. Against Charles Wright Academy, Liberty Bell lost in another shootout following a 2-2 tie in regulation and fell to undefeated Cedar Park Christian for fourth place with a 16-1-4 season.
The Lady Lions returned to state in 2004 and finished fourth once again.
The News recently caught up with 11 of the original founders to find out what they are doing now.
Regan (Walsh) Putnam
“One of my favorite memories is of our playoff game against La Salle,” said Putnam, who played soccer through all four years of high school. “We were the clear underdogs as most of the girls that played for La Salle played soccer year round and had been playing for many years. It was an amazing win and a memory I’ll never forget.”
She went on to Whitworth University, earned her B.A. in peace studies, and married LBHS classmate Bryan Putnam in 2009. The couple lives in Eugene, Ore., where Bryan is pursuing his master of fine arts degree at the University of Oregon and Regan recently completed a speech-language pathology assistant program.
Devin (Lloyd) Super
Super particularly remembers the Lady’s Lions first-ever game at Chelan because she scored the team’s first goal, “the only time I played forward,” Super said.
She played soccer during her junior and senior years and graduated in 2003. Now a dental hygienist in Spokane, Super is married and the mother of 9-month-old Logan.
Marlena (Mehaffie) Berkheiser
“My life has taken a turn from me being the one playing soccer,” Berkheiser said. “Now any day of the week from August to November you can find me on a soccer field … coaching my sons’ soccer team or refereeing my daughter’s.”
In the two years she played, Berkheiser, a goalie, received the coaches award in 2002 and the Caribou Trail League All-League award honorable mention.
She attended Seattle’s Ashmead College for massage therapy with an emphasis on sports massage.
Berkheiser and husband, Mark, will celebrate 10 years of marriage this year. They live in Snohomish with two boys, Carter, 7, and Easton, 1, and daughter Hayden, 5.
Katie (Honsinger) Skelton
“I played all four years of high school as the center midfielder,” Skelton said recently. “I also ran track and was a member of the Methow Valley Ski Racing Team, progressing on to Junior Olympics three times during high school.”
A star athlete, Skelton was recipient of the Lady Lions’ Most Valuable Player award all four years that she played soccer.
While she also recalls the famous 2003 La Salle shootout, “I have a memory of a ‘special’ play that myself and Katie McCurry made up together,” Skelton recalled. “Basically it set her up well to score a goal, which she did time and time again, obviously not all assisted by me. This play was one of our favorite tools to use against the opposing team.”
Skelton earned her R.N. degree in Seattle and works as a nurse in the progressive care unit of a Seattle hospital. Married in 2010 and living in North Kirkland, Skelton is the mother of a baby girl born last July. She said she stays in touch with many of her former teammates.
“We talk often of our soccer days and all look back on those years and memories with fondness,” Skelton said.
Fisher’s career has been on the ascendant — literally — since departing the soccer pitch at LBHS. A guide for Rainier Mountaineering based in Ashford, Wash., Fisher was in Argentina late last year leading a climb of 22,837-foot Mt. Aconcagua, the highest peak in the western and southern hemispheres.
Fisher majored in Environmental Studies at Spokane’s Whitman College and has worked with both Outward Bound and the Crystal Mountain ski patrol. She climbed 20,320-foot Denali (Mt. McKinley) in Alaska’s Denali National Park earlier this year. Fisher lives in Enumclaw.
Hailey (Garing) Parsons
Parsons played two years at midfield and defensive positions for the 1A Lady Lions. Like Super, she also remembers the team’s first game “down by the Beebe Bridge in Chelan. It was really windy and I thought we would lose the game,” Parsons recalls.“But we actually won.”
Parsons also threw javelin and enjoyed distance running on the varsity track and field team.
After graduation she majored in business management at Western Washington University and spent some time traveling in South America.
Recently married, Parsons works at Arnie’s Restaurant in Edmonds and is the mother of 6-week-old daughter, Brooklyn.
Welfelt recalls being one of the girls who played on the first co-ed team that started the soccer program.
Following graduation, Welfelt traveled in Western Europe, earned her biology degree from Western Washington University in Bellingham and has been the lead wildlife biologist at Alaska’s Skagway National Park for the past three years.
“I did some volunteer work on the wolverine project,” Welfelt said of a recent visit to the Methow, and she also went on the annual bird count.
Welfelt, who teammate Abbie Napp recalls as a “silent leader” and “the smartest one of all of us” is, like her sister Jaime, a wildlife biologist, pursuing a Ph.D. at Washington State University.
The former All-State sweeper for the Lady Lions spent last summer between North Bend and Wenatchee working on a black bear study project.
Melissa (Bradshaw) Peterson
Peterson, who graduated LBHS in 2002, was a starter and defender on the 2001 team and one of four Bradshaw sisters — including Madison, Megan and Bailey — to play soccer for the Lady Lions.
She majored in business management at Brigham Young University and managed two businesses in Utah before she and husband, Paul, purchased Winthrop’s Hotel Rio Vista a year ago. The couple has two boys, 4-year-old Leatham and 2-year-old Weston.
Napp interrupted her LBHS soccer to attend boarding school in Canada. She was also a member of the Knowledge Bowl team and found time to perform annual solo piano recitals at The Merc Playhouse.
Napp majored in history and French at Bard College in New York and divides her time between working for a firm that specializes in engagements and consulting for a contemporary arts school in Mexico City.
Bourn was a right defender during her three years with the Lady Lions. She particularly remembers walking into the huge soccer stadium at the state finals.
“Baldy [Wilson] had us kneel down and touch the surface because it wasn’t real grass,” Bourn said. “It was so special because our program was new and the west side schools got to play soccer all year long.”
Bourn also played basketball for four years and tennis for three. Following graduation, Bourn spent a year in Italy as an au pair and a year traveling in South America with LBHS classmate Darcy Lloyd.
She completed undergraduate studies in international development at the University of Washington and will soon return to the UW to pursue a master’s degree in public administration.