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Basketball/fastpitch: Besand becomes a Cardinal
Sequim High School announces that Sequim High School senior Alexas Besand signs on to play basketball and fastpitch at Skagit Community College in Mount Vernon next fall.
Below is a profile of Besand that ran in the Dec. 25, 2013 edition of the Sequim Gazette:
Senior Alexas Besand is a three-sport star at SHS — on the volleyball court, the hoops hardwood and the softball field
Whether she’s as flashy as “Hollywood” or as smooth as “butter” on the field or courts, Alexas Besand remains one of the driving forces for Sequim High girls’ athletics.
Now a senior, Besand — also known as “Lex,” “Lexie,” “Hollywood” or “butter” — is shining on the basketball court, where she’s played varsity all four years.
This spring she’ll be on the varsity fastpitch squad for a fourth year and she just finished her third year on the varsity volleyball squad after a freshman stint on the JV soccer squad.
“I thought I was going to get in shape for basketball but that didn’t work so much for me,” Besand joked.
Ironically, her interest in sports began at the Sequim Boys & Girls Club playing indoor soccer.
“It wasn’t really my forte, but then I played volleyball and basketball,” she said.
Through the club and local coaches, Besand learned she could become an athlete.
“Without Sequim I wouldn’t be where I’m at today,” she said. “If I was still in Bremerton (where I moved from), I mostly likely wouldn’t be playing sports. Coaches here recognized I could be athletic.”
Dave Bentz recalls the first time he met Besand on the softball field.
“My first impression of her was that she was awesome,” Bentz said, “The girl is a natural athlete.”
Bentz and the Besand family became close over the years with fellow senior Makayla Bentz, soccer and fastpitch standout, who is one Besand’s best friends.
“We opened up to her right off the bat,” Dave Bentz said. “She calls me Uncle Dave, which is sweet. It’s one of the nice things out of coaching.”
Makayla said she met Besand on the softball field, too and they became friends shortly thereafter.
“Alexas is one of the nicest people I know; even if she doesn’t know them, in school, sports, anything, she’s always encouraging others,” Makayla said.
Taylor Balkan, a long-time friend and former Sequim High volleyball player, echoed this.
“She can laugh and have fun off the court and when it comes to being on the court, it’s focused and she’s not going to mess around,” Balkan said.
Besand is a decorated Wolves player. For fastpitch, she was second-team all-league in 2011, and first-team all league for two years, and is a likely MVP candidate this year, said fastpitch coach Mike McFarlen.
Besand led the Wolves in RBIs (50) while slugging eight home runs and nine doubles for a .556 average in the 2012 season.
In volleyball, she’s earned all-league second-team honors the last two years and been an honorable mention for the last two years in basketball. Last year she averaged 14.7 points per game and 11.1 rebounds in basketball.
Her mom, Melissa Besand, said Alexas’ drive comes for her desire to be the best.
“She likes to be that leader on a team and wants to help other people,” Melissa Besand said. “Playing sports helps her to help the girls be better. It’s not something she has to do, but has a desire to do.”
Besand’s best Sequim sports’ memory so far was catching the last out of the 2A state championship her freshman year in 2011.
“It didn’t hit me until a few days later,” Besand said. “As a freshman, it’s a complete breath-taker.”
In Besand’s sophomore year they placed fourth and didn’t place last year but the team is hoping for the championship again.
“For the past few seasons it’s been a bit of a breeze,” Besand said. “It’s not an automatic top four into districts. We’re going to have to work our booties off and get down to business.”
McFarlen, who has coached her through Sequim High and the TNT travel team, said Besand is an impact player and a big part of the team.
“It’s been so enjoyable to be around her,” McFarlen said.
“For me, it’s a privilege to coach her everyday. She’s such a great kid and player.”
Keep to the court
Playing basketball almost wasn’t an option this year for Besand.
Her intent was to focus more on her grades and save money for college until she spoke with her mom and Dave Bentz about her options.
“I told her that you have to take advantage of the opportunities in life,” Bentz said. “There’s no second chance and if you don’t play this season, whether at college or at a reunion, whatever, you’ll wish you had played your senior year.”
Sequim High girls basketball coach Evan Still said Besand stepped up from the get-go this season after missing the first day of tryouts, staying an extra 45 minutes the second day.
“We never have to worry about her working hard,” Still said. “She has a lot of drive to be the best. She’s a coach’s dream.”
Besand plans to take her team to the West Central District tournament after failing to reach it in her freshman season just one win short.
Still hopes her experience on the state fastpitch squad can help the basketball team, too.
“Even though it’s a different sport, these girls don’t have a lot of that experience so hopefully she can show them what it’s like to be on a winning team,” he said.
McFarlen said Besand and other girls playing multiple sports is important.
“It keeps them in shape and hones their skills in a lot of other areas that softball might not do,” he said.
While Besand pushes herself on the court, she balances a lot outside of sports.
She spends the weekdays in school and at practices and doing homework, while Saturday mornings are for work at Burger King and softball practice in the afternoon, Sunday is a day off.
College is definitely a go for Besand, who’s interesting in studying graphic design or architecture, though she said she’s just not sure which school.
“I just took the ACTs so I’m waiting for my scores and acceptance letters,” Besand said.
Most colleges she’s eying are in Oregon, close to family, but if she chooses a Division III school, she’ll said she’ll likely attend on an academic scholarship rather than athletic scholarship.
But if she goes to a school to play softball, she intends to try out for the basketball team too.
McFarlen said his goal is to see her play ball somewhere and he’ll help any way he can.
“She could definitely play softball at any level,” he said.