ILWACO - Erin and Eddie Knick have a knack for blazing speed; they also have parents who are as supportive as the pair of siblings is fast.
Erin is a senior at Ilwaco High School, a member of the cross country team that competed at state this year, and she is hoping to qualify for the state track meet for the fourth time next spring. Eddie is a freshman at IHS who may be the first ninth grader to rush for 1,000 yards in school history and who was undefeated in the 100- and 200-meter dash throughout his junior high career.
Parents Ed and Kelly Knick of Ilwaco couldn't be prouder, and they prove it by not missing a meet or game of their talented children, sometimes having to make long trips to see both participate on the same night.
"At least one of us has been to just about every athletic event Erin or Eddie has ever been in," Kelly says with pride. "When they were 9 and 6 we took them to Astoria for an all-comers track meet. That was how it all started."
Erin remembers, "I swept all the running events." She has continued her dominance on the track ever since, finishing as high as sixth place at state in the 4x400 relay team her freshman year. One of her most memorable races was this year when she caught cross country sensation Chelsea Schilter at the tape to win the League championship. Another highlight of cross country, which is Erin's favorite sport, was placing ninth at the Newaukum Invitational.
Eddie was an all-star catcher in Babe Ruth, a star rebounder in basketball, record holder in the 100 and 4x400 relay in track, a soccer star, and leading rusher for the middle school football team.
Ed Sr. says, "I love watching the kids. It's better entertainment than watching the Seahawks lose." He adds, "I not only root for my kids, but have gotten to know everyone on their teams, and they are all friends, which is very nice."
Erin relates a high point of her brother's burgeoning football career, "My cousin and I cried when Eddie scored his first touchdown in high school. I knew he had done great in junior high, but I wasn't sure he'd do OK as a freshman on the varsity." The TD was called back due to a penalty, but big sis was still proud of the moment.
Ed is low-key when he says of his son, "I was really proud when Eddie got the interception that cinched the Umatilla football win. That was kind of fun being his first high school game and all." Kelly is more talkative. "When I see Erin come from behind to beat someone in the relays or in cross country I get emotional and choked up. It is exciting to see her kick the turbo in."
She says, "We have been just about everywhere to see our kids compete, but I always wanted them to be in sports." Ed explains, "I want them to do anything that keeps them off the couch." Both parents are very proud that Erin and Eddie are both good students with grades that average B+ to A-.
Erin says she appreciates her parents being at all of her events. "When I run by them in a race they yell for me, and I know my form gets better because dad has the camera and takes lots of pictures of me."
Eddie relates, "My parents always give me support, even if I've done badly. Mom always tells me not to get down on myself and to just do my best."
Kelly explains, "When I watch Eddie play football I work the program into shreds in my hands." Eddie, who often suffers from muscle cramps, gave his parents cause for concern the first time it happened. "Now I don't worry when I see there is a cramp," Kelly says, "But when he was running the ball over thirty times a game as a freshman, I was beginning to get very concerned Eddie might get injured." A calf bruise ended his brilliant freshman season in the first half of the final game, but fortunately he was fine by Sunday.
"We have made some quick trips to be able to see both kids play," Kelly says. They were in Onalaska for the last football game on Friday night and in Pasco Saturday noon to see the state cross country meet. Same-day trips from Tenino to Ilwaco or Ilwaco to Naselle are common-place for the Knick family.
Ed owns hat shops in Seaside and Long Beach so being his own boss helps in the traveling. Kelly works at The Bank of the Pacific and explains, "The bank has a policy of family first, so they have been great about me being able to get away."
The couple met in 1980 when Kelly would ride her horse through Ed's dad's property.
"My dad said I should ask her out, and for once I took his advice," he chuckles. A year later they were married. Ed graduated from Camarillo High School in 1967 and was one of 2,000 students. He played baseball, track, and football in junior high, but worked in an automotive shop through his high school years in Southern California. Later he played football and softball in adult recreation leagues.
Kelly (Morin) came to the beach in 1971 from Spokane and graduated from IHS in 1977. She was a star in track as part of the state's second-fastest mile relay team and earning fourth place in the state in the 880-yard dash. She also played basketball on the 1975 team that took eighth in state and participated in volleyball and badminton in school and softball later.
"I always wanted the kids to be athletes because I loved sports myself," Kelly says. "They are lucky to be able to excel in a small school."
Erin plans on studying dentistry, possibly at Western Washington University next year and is also hoping to compete in cross country. Erin's goal is to place in track at state in the relay and in the 400 or maybe try the 800 like her mom. Eddie wants to go to college, but is still undecided as to what he wants to study. Eddie wants to make the playoffs in football before he graduates and to place at state in the sprints in track.
Both Ed and Kelly agree, "Our kids are good listeners and are model athletes when it comes to getting along with coaches."
Kelly concludes by saying, "Sometimes people come up to us and say we have given our kids the ability to run, but I always tell them that Erin and Eddie's talents are a gift from the Lord." Ed agrees with Kelly when they say, "Our family has been blessed."