Braxton Griffin leaves legacy as one of Skyline’s top performers
June 7, 2011
By Christopher Huber
With eight seconds left in the first half of the opening round of the Class 4A state soccer tournament, Braxton Griffin, a Skyline High School forward, flicked an inbound pass off his head to teammate Travis Strawn.
In a split second, Strawn tapped the ball into the back of the net for the go-ahead goal. Griffin put Skyline up 2-0 with a goal of his own in the second half to beat Central Kitsap on its way to the state championship game against Eastlake.
“It was one of the craziest goals I’ve seen, because of the work and focus needed,” Skyline coach Don Braman said. “It was just really intense.”
Griffin, an outgoing senior standout, recently finished a high school career full of intense plays like the one that kept the Spartans alive in the playoffs.
“Braxton was simply one of most competitive kids we’ve had here,” Braman said. “He does everything in his power to win, at all times.”
As with many forwards, scoring goals is pretty much what drives him on a game-to-game basis, Griffin said. In the end, it’s the competition and the fan support that give him the most incentive to stay with it, he admitted. It’s also an activity he’s come to rely on. It’s a huge part of who he is, what he does for exercise. He has played baseball and soccer since age 4, but baseball got boring, so he gravitated toward the sport that engaged him every second of the match.
“I fell in love with the game and never stopped playing,” he said. “I have to play every day.”
Braman noted he could tell when Griffin was in the zone. He plays with the energy of an 8-year-old who found something he likes to do.
“When you watch him play at his top level, it seems like he’s tapping into that joy that you see top athletes have. That energy feeds his success,” Braman said. “He has a motor that needs to be running. One thing that’s great about our game is that it doesn’t stop.”
Soccer is a year-round gig for Griffin, between playing for Skyline and the Crossfire Premier club team. While he has seen plenty of success as a forward with the Spartans, Griffin built up a list of accolades in his years playing club ball, too.
His 2009 team was ranked top-10 nationally by Top Drawer Soccer. That year, he was also the league’s top scorer. He was the team’s top goal scorer in 2010 and also led Crossfire to a U.S. Club Regionals title in 2009. Griffin helped win state with Crossfire 92A in 2008.
“It’s one thing for adults to recognize your strengths, but it’s another for your peers to,” Braman said about Griffin’s teammates choosing him as a captain in 2011. “He’s the guy they can turn to when they need results.”
Griffin graduates as Skyline’s No. 2 career point-scorer, tallying 65 (2 points for a goal, 1 point for an assist), Braman said. Fellow senior Travis Strawn led with 70 points. Griffin also capped his high school career being named to the 2011 first team All-KingCo 4A.
While performing among the best in the state, Griffin also did the Running Start program to earn college credits during high school.
When thinking back on his Skyline career, Griffin, who was supposed to go to Issaquah High School, proudly reveled in the memory of his game-winning header into the net with three minutes left against the Eagles in 2010. His goal secured Skyline’s 100th win in school history and bragging rights against Issaquah.
“It’s great that one of the greatest players we ever had at Skyline was able to secure the 100th win,” Braman said.
Griffin has also faced some adversity. In the Central Kitsap game May 17, he scored on a penalty kick, but left the game with a partially torn left meniscus. The injury kept him out for the next week, until the last 20 minutes of the state final against Eastlake, he said. He even called his surgeon that morning to see if he could play.
Chomping at the bit and full of energy, he hit the pitch to see if he could help turn the tables on the Wolves.
“My knee felt fine,” Griffin said. “I had so much adrenaline.”
He ultimately had surgery June 1 to repair the damaged knee cartilage.
Griffin is headed to play for Humboldt State University in Northern California, on a scholarship, with teammate Jake Bechtel. He said he’s excited to help build a strong team and play at the school’s new soccer facility. Ultimately, he hopes to impress professional scouts, he said.
“I hope to go super far with soccer,” Griffin said. “No one’s shut me down yet.”
Christopher Huber: 392-6434, ext. 242, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.