On the top of her graduation cap, there was a photo of her father, Tim, giving Shelby Love a huge bear hug. Surrounded by three gold butterflies, the message in gold letters above the photo said, …
On the top of her graduation cap, there was a photo of her father, Tim, giving Shelby Love a huge bear hug. Surrounded by three gold butterflies, the message in gold letters above the photo said, “I’m standing here today because you helped me find my way.”
“I cried when I made it,” Shelby Love told a classmate as they waited to walk into the gym for the Class of 2022 Commencement Ceremony at Quilcene High.
Her father wasn’t at her graduation Saturday, but in that way, he was.
Love’s father passed away a month ago, marking a senior year filled with so many emotions and memories, some still hard to bring to mind.
She’s been surrounded, supported by friends and family since the start. Love has been attending school in Quilcene since kindergarten, and she’s known some of her fellow classmates the entire time she’s been in school.
Self-described as shy, until people get to know her, she’s one of two children of Luxmi and Tim Love, and an older sister to Jayden, 14, who’s since gotten his share of sports fame for the Rangers as an eighth-grade scoring sensation for Quilcene’s second-in-state football team. Her mother is a banker at First Federal in Port Townsend; before he passed, her father was a contractor.
The older-sister role fits Shelby Love well.
“It can be tough sometimes. He can be very little brother-like,” she said.
Much has changed since their battles as youngsters, Love added.
“Me and my brother have gotten really close,” she said. “We used to just battle it out. Now we’re a lot closer, and it’s a lot nicer.”
Love has been the class president for this year’s Class of 2022.
Across the school, and community, she’s well-known as a sports stalwart for the Rangers, a valued member of the volleyball and fastpitch softball teams, and she also made a return to playing varsity basketball during her senior year.
High school hoops has prompted some head-turning moments for sports fans in Quilcene.
During double-headers in the Quilcene gym, Love was one of three players on the basketball team that would leave the court after the final buzzer, only to rush into the locker room and come back suited up for the boys’ games — as a cheerleader at courtside.
It was quite a switch for spectators, from seeing Love dive for loose balls or race for an errant rebound, to arms-raised, foot-stomping crowd-pumping enthusiasm.
Love was joined by two other master students in stamina by junior Ashley Jones and freshman Abby Ward, who also cheered for an entire boys game after wrapping up their varsity game minutes before.
“We were very rushed,” Love recalled.
“I thought it was a lot of fun,” she said. “I loved cheering, and cheering on for the boys. It was very exhausting, but it was very fun.”
Her best memories probably come from sports, she said.
She harkened back to their final playoff game this year, a fastpitch matchup against Darrington where the Loggers had cut out to a seemingly insurmountable lead.
But the Rangers roared back at the end, winning 14-13.
“We were down eight runs and we came back,” she said. “I’ll always remember that.”
This year was made especially memorable by the softball team’s trip to the 1B state fastpitch championships in Yakima, a streak of 11-straight appearances by the Rangers.
“State is always the best memory. It’s so much fun. It’s just the bonding and being there and having fun together,” Love said.
Love was a pitcher and an outfielder for Quilcene. She has been on the team since she was an eighth-grader, and her team’s trip to State marked her third time there, considering that COVID cancelled a complete season for two years.
“We were really all hoping it would come back after the sixth week or so [of the pandemic], but it just cut out,” she recalled.
“It really put a halt on sports, which was kind of devastating,” she said.
The joy of playing wasn’t bound by the scoreboard or lines of wins and losses.
“It brought all of us together and that was how we created family and friendships. So COVID really knocked that out,” she said.
“And then it was hard to connect with people and talk to people. Especially that year, we built so much into that team,” she said of the first softball season to fall by the wayside. “That team had so much potential. And just knocked it all out.”
Volleyball was also cut short, but by only one year. Love has also played for the Rangers’ team since she was an eighth-grader, and was also on Quilcene’s middle-school team.
“I’ve always just loved the sport,” she said of volleyball. “And coming together as a team; same with fastpitch.”
After school years eclipsed by some darkness of the COVID-19 pandemic, she said her senior year at Quilcene has slipped quickly by.
“I haven’t really thought about the past and all the memories,” she said during an interview a week before the school’s traditional Walk of Fame, a joyous precursor to Saturday’s annual commencement ceremony.
“It’s all just coming to an end. It flew by,” she said.
“The beginning of senior year felt like a week ago.”
Other school years, by comparison, were more of a stroll than a sprint.
“The other years felt like they were longer. Not as fast. But this year, just went by. I can’t believe we’re graduating in a week,” she said.
Love said she’s really enjoyed the small size of Quilcene schools, which are all combined on one K-12 campus with about 224 students who attend classes there.
“You can make friends with anybody. You know everybody. You can be one-on-one with teachers or get immediate help,” she said.
“It’s been really nice. Everybody’s so close.”
In a place where some students have known each other since preschool, Love has a simple secret for maintaining friendships over the years: “Honesty.”
Pressed to name a favorite teacher, Love singled out elementary teacher Katie Allen.
“She was just always there for me, whether I knew it or not,” Love said.
Love quickly added counselor Tiffany Jaber as another school favorite.
“She helped me through a lot,” Love said.
She also expressed thanks for history teacher and coach Mark Thompson, math teacher Jim Weller.
Outside of sports and classwork, Love works at the coffee stand, PNW Press, though coffee isn’t actually her beverage of choice there. Spritzers, on the other hand...
She has also volunteered in the school’s preschool every Wednesday.
Love adores the kids and the time they have together, from puzzles to playtime.
“We’ll walk to the school and we’ll do garden or library. We’ll hang out with the kindergarteners. Or we’ll walk over to the playground or walk through the trails,” she said.
“I love working with kids. Preschool is my favorite thing to do.”
It could be an older sister thing, she said, and maybe that’s related to what she wants to do after graduation. Love is planning on starting college at Olympic College for an associate’s degree on a path toward a major in early education and teaching.
Her advice to younger students is timeless.
“Don’t be mean, don’t bully,” she said.
And do, as well, what has worked for her: “Soak all the years in with every memory; and just keep making memories.”
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