The student news site of Puyallup High School

The Viking Vanguard

The student news site of Puyallup High School

The Viking Vanguard

The student news site of Puyallup High School

The Viking Vanguard

Puyallup Class of ’98 Plays Sports Outside the Usual Way

If students ever got their hands on a copy of the 1998 Puyallup High School yearbook, they would find a section titled “Outside the Usual Way.”   

Held within these two pages were lifetimes of hard work and endless determination. The pages depicted the athletes that devoted their time to unique sports outside of the regular PHS programs– sports like horse riding, traditional dancing and figure skating. These athletes shared their memories of high school and how their sports prepared them for successful futures.  

Most mornings, alumna Marla Keethler woke up and headed out to the ice rink.  

During competition seasons, Keethler would also head back after school. She was a figure skater by night and a Viking Vanguard journalist by day– well, not quite that dramatic. Keethler went on to blend her two careers after high school, covering figure skating as a producer for ESPN and Winter Olympics for NBC sports.  

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“Once I was older, I covered a lot of college football when I was doing sports television. Having that experience of seeing team sports and that energy and the dynamic of rooting for your team was really cool, but it also made me aware that the sport I had chosen didn’t really have those elements to it,” Keethler said.  

Many athletes who participate in individual sports can relate and connect to Keethler’s reflection.  

“It was like I had two different worlds. I had this world where I had a sport that I loved, but it was really removed from my school experience and social circle there. And then in the school world, I think my identity really was much more about the Viking Vanguard and being a part of the school newspaper,” Keethler said.  

Regardless of the obstacles, her figure skating carried her not just through high school but towards a successful professional career. 

“It really did teach me a lot of self-determination and independence and self-confidence to try things or put myself out there. Whether it was moving to a new place, changing jobs or just knowing what my strengths and abilities were,” Keethler said.  

Figure skating took Keethler beyond just being a sport. It taught her lessons she says she would never forget– lessons about independence, perseverance, and fearlessness. After moving on from her sport, Keethler is still leading a prosperous career as mayor of the small town she lives in, leading others towards positive futures.  

“There’s a lot that’s changed, obviously, like how people connect or the ways that you can go to school and learn,” Keethler said. “I think the thing that’s always stayed true is that it doesn’t matter how prestigious your university is, or whether you’re the best athlete on the field or you’re the top of your class. Ultimately what will give you success long term are the relationships that you nurture and those opportunities and experiences you take advantage of.”  

Another alumna outside the usual way was Liesel Christoe-Frazier. Christoe-Frazier participated in Scottish Highland dancing, a cultural tradition where dancers compete and are judged equally on technique and how they are dressed. The sport is an artistic blend of intricate footwork and graceful maneuvers.  

“It’s really very strict. You learn specific steps, specific dances, and then go to competitions all over. I mostly stayed on the West Coast and traveled around. Almost every weekend you signed up to compete against others in your age group and your level,” Christoe-Frazier said.  

One of her biggest challenges, she says, was time management– juggling homework, dance, and extracurriculars all at the same time.  

“I’ve had to travel a lot for dance. It was certainly a challenge, making sure things like homework were done,” Christoe-Frazier said. I remember getting home late on a Sunday and having to get up early to go to school. It was difficult and I didn’t have as much time to practice dance as I wanted to.”  

However, despite the challenges, Christoe-Frazier never forgot why she danced.  

“I started when I was seven, so I was young, and it’s a Scottish Highland dance, so it was part of my family culture. We went around a lot to the Scottish highland Games when I was younger,” Christoe-Frazier said. “I was raised by my mom and my grandparents who both wanted to get myself and my sisters involved. At the time it was a small, community-based kind of thing. It was like a second family, going to different competitions and getting to know people and events.”  

Through dance, she discovered how to set goals and reach for the moon– because she knew even if she missed, she would still land among the stars.   

“When I first started, my dance teacher gave me this card and it’s really cheesy, but it said ‘shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars’. I looked at it every day and thought about it a lot,” Christoe-Frazier said. “When I went to college and was becoming a doctor, I really wanted this amazing internship and if there was any doubt, I would remember that. I’d say to myself, ‘shoot for that, and who knows where you’ll end up.'”

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Sienna Hanson, Staff

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