With a more focused approach in basketball and an injury-free track and field season, Burlington-Edison’s Taino Ferdinand finally showed what he could do.
Because of it, the senior has been selected the Skagit Valley Herald Boys’ Athlete of the Year.
Ferdinand competed in three sports this season: cross country in the fall, basketball in the winter and track and field in the spring.
In previous years, Ferdinand had been slowed by injuries, especially a hip injury in track and field his junior year.
This year, he didn’t want that to happen again. He used the cross country season to get into proper shape, and went into basketball focused and prepared.
“I knew I had to work hard this summer,” he said.
Basketball coach Chas Kok said Ferdinand’s improvement was part of the plan.
“Early in the summer he approached me. He wanted to improve,” Kok said. “I told him he had to make a commitment to the weight room and a commitment to shooting the three-pointer. He did every weight training session, he dedicated himself to basketball. In the first Anacortes game he exploded on the scene. I told him all the accolades he was going to get, he’d deserve.”
Ferdinand averaged 11 points per game for the playoff-qualifying Tigers. While the team’s scoring was balanced, he made a difference with athleticism, rebounding and defense.
“We relied on him defensively and on the glass. We knew if the ball went up and Taino was around, he’d come down with it. He was the rim protector. He elevated, he blocked shots,” Kok said.
The result? An all-conference nod in the competitive Northwest Conference.
“It felt good to have it pay off,” Ferdinand said of his off-season work.
Ferdinand’s basketball season may have been stellar, but his track and field season was record-setting.
He broke the school record in the high jump and won the Class 2A state meet title in the event with a mark of 6 feet, 10 inches — one of the top 20 high school marks in the country.
Ferdinand and Burlington-Edison coach Kevin Gudgel said a successful meet at Bellingham’s Civic Stadium during the season helped the senior gain confidence.
“He had his breakthrough moment,” Gudgel said. “He’d been trying to get to 6-2. As soon as he did that it was like ‘Now I can do this.’ He went 6-2, 6-4.”
Ferdinand said, “At that point, I was hunting for the school record.”
Ferdinand, who worked with Gudgel and Sue Wright on his jumps during the season, at the state meet finished second in the long jump and third in the triple jump.
“He’s been a competitive jumper, a hard worker, a super-nice kid, a good teammate ... you always root for a kid like that,” Gudgel said.
Ferdinand’s fans will have more opportunities to root for him. He is moving on to compete for the Washington State University track and field team.