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Washington’s signing to Chico State a family affair

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Washington is flanked by parents and Manteca High staff members while signing her letter of intent to play for Chico State Monday in Winter Gym. Joining her were (from left): grandfather James Grif...


POSTED November 17, 2010 3:11 a.m.
Manteca High senior Sharon Washington officially accepted a full-ride scholarship offer from Chico State when she signed a letter of intent Monday at Winter Gym, and it was a family affair.

Joined by relatives coming from the East Bay and as far away as San Diego, teammates, friends, head coach Andrea Hiatt and principal Doug McCreath, Washington put pen to paper on a table draped by a collage prepared by her mother, Dianna, illustrating her life on and off the court.

 “Since I was 5, my mom has been to every game,” Sharon said. “My mom used to coach me, actually. The whole family is into sports, so it’s always a big thing for us.”

It was a big thing for the entire family, even to those who were not in attendance on Monday. A party was held in Sharon’s honor Sunday.

“Sharon is going to make it because she has relatives who are going to make sure she’s going to make it,” said her aunt Darlene, who came up from San Diego. “I’m really proud of Sharon.”

A two-time all-Valley Oak League first-team selection, Washington averaged 16.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.2 steals and 4.1 assists while leading the Buffaloes to a Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III playoff berth for the second time in three years.
Washington has played varsity ball since being called up from the lower levels midway through her freshman year.

Hiatt said she knew Washington was something special as a freshman. They’ve developed a close enough coach-player relationship to where Washington can work on her shot in the main gym upon request. And Hiatt said those requests, via text messages, come often.

In addition, Washington played for four different Amateur Athletic Union teams — based out of Sacramento, Modesto, Tracy and Ceres — from the end of last high school season to the first week of this month.

“Sharon is a very happy-go-lucky person but is very determined and very passionate about the game,” Hiatt said. “Ever since she was a freshman she made it very clear to me that she wants to play basketball after high school, so she’s worked very hard to get this.

“Most girls don’t do that, that’s why she has the cherry on top.”

Chico State is an NCAA Division-II school out of the California Collegiate Athletic Association that is no stranger to success. The Wildcats have qualified for the NCAA Tournament seven times in the last eight years are ranked 17th in the preseason top-25 Division-II national poll.

Manteca attends a camp at Chico State every summer, so Wildcats head coach Brian Fogel had his eye on Washington for a while.

Washington — who also drew interest from other CCAA schools Humboldt State, San Francisco State and Cal State Stanislaus — visited the campus last month and was told then that she would be offered a full-ride scholarship.

“I actually wanted to go somewhere in L.A., but it really didn’t matter to me,” said Washington, who plans on studying pre-med. “I’ve always wanted to play in college, and I really like Chico.

“Every time I’ve been up there I’ve always said how much I like it there, but I didn’t know they were interested in me.”

But before she moves to Chico semi-permanently, Washington has business to attend to back home. On top of maintaining her 3.8 GPA, she aims to bring the Manteca girls program its first VOL championship since 2000.

“It’s a huge relief. Now that it’s over and that I know where I’m going to go, I can focus on finishing the year and hopefully getting the VOL title,” Washington said. “That’s my biggest hope right now, is the VOL title.”
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