Ferndale High School Athletics: Beyond the Game

Ferndale School District Paraeducator Brenda Sims with FHS volleyball team

Photo Caption: Ferndale School District Paraeducator Brenda Sims with the Ferndale High School Volleyball team


Our athletic teams in Ferndale are about more than fundamental skill development through countless practices and games. They are about more than wins and losses. Our athletic teams in Ferndale are places where student-athletes also learn about the meaning of camaraderie, the strength that comes from caring for one another, and the critical importance of working together to achieve team goals. For Ferndale athletic teams, the commitment to caring extends beyond the field and court to encompass community outreach and service.

Fundraisers, themed game nights, camps, volunteer work and visits to schools are just a few of the ways this emphasis on caring and giving is put into action by student-athletes during the course of a year.

Ferndale High School Athletic Director Eric Tripp says that almost all FHS athletics programs do some form of community service, support and outreach. Many teams have longstanding community service efforts that have become traditional elements of their team culture. This emphasis on service supports the district’s FerndaleCARES emphasis on developing students who are civic-minded, character-strong and career-ready.

“I am encouraged to see the efforts throughout our school by classes, groups and individuals who show care for one another and the greater community,” Tripp said. “We have a great vehicle for community outreach and service through athletics. It is important because when we connect teams and community, it shows that we are all in this together.” 

Serving in Action

“We represent our community; we represent Ferndale when we put on the jersey,” Tripp said. “It’s a privilege, not a right, to participate, and we want to make sure we represent our school and our community well.”

Part of giving back takes place within our own district when high school athletes visit Ferndale elementary schools to take part in activities like reading to their younger counterparts.

“The first thing I think about when it comes to growth and impact for students through giving back is when [high school students] got to elementary schools to read and speak to younger students,” Tripp said. “You see growth in that scenario because many of the younger students think highly of the high school students. The visits say: ‘I’ve got responsibility as a role model to our younger students.’ If that doesn’t leave an impact, I don’t know what does. It gets right to the heart and helps our students walk away from the experience feeling positive.”

Tripp also highlighted a recently-started emphasis called “Clean Sweep” with Ferndale High School athletic teams asked to do periodic trash pick-up sweeps at Ferndale High School as one a small way of giving back and showing appreciation that the $60 pay-to-play fee has been waived for student-athletes this year.

“First, on the fundamental side it helps our campus, and second, it helps provide a sense of community service and giving back,” Tripp said. “We’ll look to continue doing Clean Sweep in the winter and beyond.”

Through such actions and fundraisers, our athletic programs shine a light on the values of unity and support for our student-athletes. Tripp noted one of the most successful and longstanding efforts highlighting those values is through the annual Coaches vs. Cancer games, which give an opportunity to support those battling cancer and support cancer research.

FerndaleCARES Spotlight
Coaches vs. Cancer: Brenda Sims

This year’s Coaches vs. Cancer volleyball game presented a special opportunity to honor one of Ferndale’s own paraducators, Brenda Sims, a member of the school district for more than 20 years, who is currently battling cancer. 

The Ferndale volleyball team honored Sims before a game on Coaches vs. Cancer Night, and the team had the opportunity to speak with Sims before the game. The volleyball team also raised funds for cancer research during the evening.

“Brenda has impacted countless individuals through her work at Custer Elementary and is a fierce fighter in every sense of the word,” said Ferndale volleyball coach Patti Hoelzle. “She is a true inspiration and we are grateful to have the opportunity to honor Brenda this season. When we talk about FerndaleCARES as ‘You, Me and We,’ this night was important to highlight the commitment to ‘We’ and support Brenda.”

An annual event hosted by FHS volleyball and basketball teams, Coaches vs. Cancer is part of a national program that has united coaches and fans against cancer through fundraising and education initiatives.

“Brenda is so important to our school community and highly respected by so many,” Ferndale School District Superintendent Dr. Linda Quinn said. “Her service to students and colleagues has always been inspirational and now she is inspiring all of us with her commitment to overcome this insidious cancer.”

Over the last 10 years, the Northwest Conference has been able to raise more than $100,000 for cancer research according to Tripp. Find more information about Coaches vs. Cancer on the organization website.

Coaches vs. Cancer for the FHS Basketball teams will be at the end of January. The boys’ basketball team will be at Sedro-Woolley on January 30th while the girls’ basketball team will January 31st at home against Sedro-Woolley. 

Full schedules for all FHS teams can be found at NWCAthletics.com. 

For a look at some of upcoming FHS Athletic events this winter with community themes, please see the following. 

FHS Girls’ Basketball
•    December 20th vs. Squalicum: Elementary Night
•    January 23rd vs. Meridian: Teacher Appreciation Night – players will invite teachers
•    January 31st vs. Sedro-Woolley: Coaches vs. Cancer
•    February 3rd vs. Sehome: Senior Night

FHS Boys’ Basketball
•    December 3rd vs. Snohomish: Holiday Giving Tree – asking for donations
•    December 17th vs. Nookscack: Food Bank Night – bring canned goods
•    January 9th vs. Burlington-Edison: AAU game vs Burlington AAU team
•    January 17th vs. Anacortes: Toy Drive for Children’s Cancer Hospital in Seattle
•    January 28th vs. Bellingham: Clothing Drive Night
•    January 30th at Sedro-Woolley: Coaches vs. Cancer
•    February 5th vs. Lynden: Senior Night