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Ferris’ three-sport athlete Bria Bowton resisted urge to specialize

Bria Bowton of Ferris slaps hands during player introductions at a girls basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016, at Ferris. Bowton is headed to Redlands to play soccer. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Bria Bowton of Ferris slaps hands during player introductions at a girls basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016, at Ferris. Bowton is headed to Redlands to play soccer. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Now that Bria Bowton looks back on it, the recent Ferris High graduate wonders what path her athletic career would have taken had she specialized.

She resisted the urge to do what many of her peers did. Instead she balanced a busy schedule with soccer, basketball and track.

Bowton knows this – she would have missed out making lifelong friendships and experiences had she focused on one sport.

“If I’d specialized I’d been better but I liked doing all of them,” she said. “Playing soccer and basketball was more important to me – more than being the best at one.”

She reflected on her four years at Ferris while eying her next step in life. She’s headed to the University of Redlands, an NCAA Division III school 65 miles east of Los Angeles, to play soccer.

Bowton earned the maximum varsity letters, 12, for doing three sports. She graduated with a 3.96 grade-point average and was involved in student leadership.

Each year, Ferris names a top male and female student-athlete among its senior class based on multiple sport involvement, citizenship and athletics. Bowton earned the honor this year and her name will be permanently displayed in the Saxons’ gym – on the same board as her sister Maya, the recipient in 2012.

“I’m so proud of that,” Bowton said.

Football coach Jim Sharkey oversees student leadership. He had nothing but praise for Bowton.

“She’s unbelievable besides being a great athlete,” Sharkey said. “She was my go-to girl. She was dependable and always had a great approach to everything. She did problem solving in a positive way. She was really delightful to work with.”

Bowton was a three-year starter and four-year letterman in both soccer and basketball. Her most memorable sports season came last fall in soccer.

Ferris was picked to finish seventh in league after graduating 10 players from the year before. The Saxons surprised, finishing tied for third. They advanced to the State 4A quarterfinals before their season ended.

Bowton, a center forward, scored 13 goals and had eight assists. She was named to the All-Greater Spokane League second team, but was honored as Ferris’ most valuable player in end-of-season awards.

“I was really surprised by that,” said soccer coach Robin Crain, who thought Bowton could have been named to the all-league first team. “But there were a lot of good players in the league. When you vote on the all-league positions at the end of league you don’t see what happens in the playoffs.”

Bowton was surprised too.

“I was disappointed and confused because I was ahead of some girls in goals and assists,” she said.

“She’s strong, very physical, very gifted, very intelligent,” Crain said. “A big part of her game is her intelligence.”

Crain was impressed with more than just Bowton’s athleticism.

“She’s one of those beautiful people,” he said. “No matter who you are she’s takes time to get to know you. She wades through that mess of high school stuff. She’s willing to go out of her way to be friends with you or recognize you. It’s a degree of humility, humbleness and good heartedness – a maturity that not very many kids have but get later in life.”

As a 5-foot-5 point guard, Bowton always looked to pass first before shooting. Twice an all-GSL honorable mention selection, she averaged 5.7 assists and was the team’s second-leading scorer (10.5) last year.

Her final season included fighting through an old ailment in her back that goes back to the eighth grade.

Pain has been present off and on but it’s been manageable most of the time. This year she missed a game and played just five minutes in another because she took a spill twice on her back.

Bowton’s father, Eric, an orthopedic surgeon, explained the cause of pain.

“It’s a bilateral lumbar spondylolysis with minor slippage of one vertebrae on top of the other,” he said. “More common in gymnasts and offensive linemen. Actually about five percent of the population has it but not all people are symptomatic. More so with higher level athletes.”

Bria did gymnastics through middle school.

“If the vertebra slip too far then it requires surgery with screws and fusion and a turtle shell brace for several months, and out of competition for a year,” Eric explained.

When it flared up during basketball, Bria had pain, spasms and decreased mobility for a time, Eric said.

“I had to sit out some practices and some of the more physical drills,” Bria said.

“For the last two years it was kind of her team,” Servine said. “She was the one who took ownership of it. She was the leader not only on the floor but in the locker room and practices. She was the engine for us.”

It was at the start of her junior year that it became obvious to her that soccer had become her favorite.

Bowton is spending most of her days this summer doing something with soccer. She was added to the Spokane Shadow women’s team late last month when players had conflicts. She hopes to finish the summer with the team before heading to Redlands.

“I’m ready to focus on one sport and do other things besides athletics. The soccer will be real competitive. It’ll be a really big change but it’s a great opportunity to put myself in new situations without my support system I have here.”

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