When it comes to sports, Damien Washington may be the ultimate multi-tasker.
The A.L. Brown three-sport standout has no problem entering multiple events or playing multiple positions for the sake of his teams.
At the South Piedmont 3A Conference meet on April 13-14, Washington's willingness to do just that led to several first-place finishes. The junior won titles in the 200 meters, long jump and triple jump while placing second in the 100 meters.
He will participate in the Midwest 3A Regional May 7 at Mount Pleasant, where he hopes to qualify for the 3A state meet on May 13 at N.C. A&T State University.
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Applying a commitment to weight training and a work ethic that is unparalleled, according to his coaches, Washington has become one of the area's top high school athletes. In addition to his track and field exploits, he was a triple offensive threat on the football team and was a key reserve for the Wonders' basketball team.
Compared to many kids, Washington was a latecomer to youth sports. He played his first football game at age 9 and started basketball when he was 10.
Washington would have had his first opportunity to run track and field in seventh grade at Kannapolis Middle School, but a knee injury late in the basketball season prevented him from competing. A year later, Washington was named his class' student-athlete of the year with the help of a track and field season in which he established himself as a 200-meter sprinter and a triple jumper.
Wonders' track and field coach Shon Galloway said Washington's reputation as the fastest rising freshman athlete preceded him to A.L. Brown. His body had some catching up to do with the upperclassmen, however, in terms of size and maturity.
"He was a little frail kid," said Galloway. "He could run but (now) he's growing into his body. You never knew he was there because he never opened his mouth."
Washington wasn't fast enough to run the short sprints, so Galloway put him in the 400 meters. He had an unspectacular season but showed some promise.
With a couple of the team's sprinters having graduated, Washington established himself last year. At the SPC meet, he placed second in the long jump and triple jump and won the 200 meters.
At the regional meet, he placed second in the long jump, qualifying him for the state meet, where he also competed for the Wonders' 800-meter relay team that finished in fourth place.
This year, not only was the SPC championship held at Washington's home track, he practically made it his own personal invitational. Victories in three events and a second place finish in another made him the most decorated athlete of the meet.
A breakout track and field season comes following an autumn in which he was the Wonders' "slash" on the football field. A quarterback by trade, Washington took a backseat to established starter Martel Campbell and played at running back, receiver and safety instead.
Washington emerged late in the season, enjoying some of his finest games, including a 21-18 playoff win over Hickory Ridge in which he rushed for 95 yards. He was injured in the next game against Statesville, however, forcing him out of the final playoff game against Charlotte Catholic and the first nine games of the basketball season.
His willingness to play multiple positions earned him the football team's Jimmy Smith "Team Before Self" Award. It's a trait his coaches say separates him from many of his contemporaries.
Washington credits his athletic success to three things: his parents, Bryant and Judy Foster, as well as "the grace of God" and weightlifting with Todd Haigler, Kannapolis' weightlifting coach.
"What Damien saw in the weight room... was a means to get him faster and more powerful," said Haigler. "He was already a great athlete when he got here, but his vertical jump and standing broad jump improved so much."
Washington is likely the Wonders' quarterback-in-waiting as the team waits to hire a new football coach to replace the retired Ron Massey.
He's ready to do anything to help any of his teams.