In an age when high school athletes are choosing to specialize in sports, Lynden sophomore Jordan Wittenberg bucks the trend.
Baseball admittedly is Wittenberg's main passion, but the Lions underclassman made a name for himself this past year serving as a two-way player on Lynden's football team, a strong contributor at guard for the basketball program and the best baseball player in the Northwest Conference.
Playing three seasons and standing out is a feat few other county athletes can claim.
Wittenberg only earned varsity time playing baseball his freshman year, but proved he had no problem stepping up to full-time varsity ball
"First season started, I didn't really know where I'd fit into all the other programs," Wittenberg said in a phone interview. "I came out and worked hard and focused on sports and my time on the court and field. I just made it happen anyway I could."
Wittenberg has been selected The Bellingham Herald's All-Whatcom Male Athlete of the Year.
Wittenberg first carved out a pivotal role on the Lions' football team as a starting cornerback and a go-to slot receiver as the season wore on.
He was a huge piece to Lynden's secondary, contributing to an impressive defense that allowed only 11.4 points per game. The Lions' defensive backfield surrendered only five passing touchdowns all year. Wittenberg also found a role on the other side of the ball, complementing lead outside receivers Scott Hastings and Jalani Phelps.
Wittenberg finished the season with 19 catches for 287 yards and a touchdown, but during the Class 2A State Championship against Tumwater, he caught a team-high nine passes for 100 yards.
"During football, the state championship game had to be one of my favorite moments of the whole year," Wittenberg said. "Playing in the T-Dome in front of hundreds of people and ended up winning."
Not only did Wittenberg shine in all three sports he played, he and his teams reached the state tournament in each of the sports. He won a state title in football, played for a championship in basketball and reached the round of 16 in baseball.
With football's postseason run overlapping the start of basketball season, Wittenberg and the rest of the football team, which made up nearly the Lions' entire basketball roster, had to quickly transition to a new sport.
Lynden overcame the loss of several strong seniors and reached the state championship game where the club lost to Pullman in overtime. Wittenberg split starting minutes with teammate Trey Shagren. He averaged 6.3 points per game, which was fifth best on the team, scored double figures seven times and scored a season-high 16 points in a game against Blaine.
"It was tough at first being one of the younger ones on the team learning the roles, but the guys were nice and helped me out a lot," Wittenberg said.
Wittenberg's best sport came last, and he displayed his talents by staring at shortstop, batting leadoff and hitting for a .458 average during the regular season.
Again, the sophomore had no time to prepare for baseball with a long winter basketball season, but the lack of training didn't seem to matter.
"There is only so many hours in one day," Lynden baseball coach Cory White said in a phone interview. "When he puts on those shoulder pads August 17 last year and goes to the Gridiron Classic and takes the pads off and puts tennis shoes on and goes to the (SunDome), there isn't a lot of time. There's some parts of athleticism that is God-given. Some can spend countless hours on the court or in the cage and not get to that level. He's got a lot of hand-eye coordination, not to take away his work ethic. He does have God-given athleticism, and he makes the most of that."
Wittenberg helped Lynden reach the baseball state tournament for the third consecutive season, and was selected All-Northwest Conference Most Valuable Player as a hitter and fielder.
With two more seasons in front of him, surely Wittenberg will continue contributing to the success of Lynden Athletics.
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for Whatcom County sports updates.
Reach ANDREW LANG at firstname.lastname@example.org or call ext. 862.