Ninilchik's Jennifer Bartolowits won a Class 2A state basketball championship this year.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Ninilchik senior Jennifer Bartolowits is not one of those people who simply does what is asked of them.
Oh, Bartolowits will do what she is asked, all right, but the person doing the asking better give her very good instructions of her appointed task.
“She’s one of those kids who is a lot of fun to coach a challenge but a lot of fun,” Ninilchik girls basketball coach Dan Leman said. “She can be stubborn at times never confrontational, but always in a respectful way.
“She did want to make sure she understood what I was asking, and she wanted to make sure I explained it if she didn’t understand. When she got out on the floor, she would play how I wanted her to play.”
Bartolowits’ attention to detail has served her well both in sports and in school.
“I like to know what’s going on,” Bartolowits said. “I want it explained to me before I do it.
“For something I don’t care about, it doesn’t matter. But for something I care about, I like to know exactly what is going on.”
After being on the junior varsity as a freshman when the Ninilchik varsity basketball team won the Class 2A state title, Bartolowits made the varsity as a sophomore but saw little playing time as the Wolverines won state again.
This year, Bartolowits started for half of the year as Ninilchik again won a state title.
As a sophomore, Bartolowits made a trip to state as part of the 400-meter relay team. Bartolowits and teammates Angela Singh, Amanda Peterson and Emily Wood qualified for state by winning the 400 relay at the Region II Track and Field Championships.
In school, Bartolowits has used her penchant for detail to achieve a 3.59 grade-point average and a spot with the National Honor Society.
“She’s always had a very inquisitive mind,” said Jennifer’s mother, LaRae Bartolowits. “If we were leaving in 10 minutes, she needed to know when it was 10 minutes, when it was five minutes and when it was three minutes.”
Bartolowits also had a lot of energy as a child, so LaRae and Jennifer’s father, Paul, got her involved in sports.
“She benefited from interacting with the other kids, and from the cooperation that takes place in team sports,” LaRae said.
In high school, Bartolowits took a crack at all four sports available at Ninilchik cross country, volleyball, basketball and track.
Basketball and track are the sports she has played all four years. She said she has enjoyed track the most.
“I like it because there are a whole bunch of different sports in one sport,” Bartolowits said. “I only went to state in the relay, but when I went, it was crazy getting to see all of those fast people.”
In addition to Bartolowits’ attention to detail, first-year Ninilchik track coach Dana Morrell quickly appreciated Bartolowits’ intensity.
“Tenacious is a good word for her,” Morrell said. “She has that competitive desire you can’t coach.”
Leman said he had a lot of respect for Bartolowits because she stuck with basketball even though she did not get a lot of playing time early in her career.
“She wasn’t a flashy player on the floor, and she didn’t have a fantastic shot, but she could play good, solid defense,” Leman said. “She was a big factor for us.”
Leman also came to appreciate Bartolowits’ subtle sense of humor.
An example comes when Bartolowits is talking about how her parents got her involved in sports when she was young.
“My parents never forced me, they enrolled me, and after awhile they asked me about it,” she said.
Bartolowits has had to learn to keep her sense of humor in check when she works in the summer as an office manager at Lucky Pierre Charters, which is located in Homer and owned by Paul and LaRae.
“People will come in and say, ‘What do you think the weather is like today?’” Bartolowits said. “I want to say, ‘Just look out the window,’ but I can’t.”
While LaRae says the job helps her daughter learn to interact with the public, Jennifer says the job helps her to learn to eat with her left hand so she can keep playing computer solitaire.
Bartolowits plans to attend the University of Alaska Fairbanks next year, but she is not sure what she will study. Right now her favorite class is shop, but Bartolowits also has a passion for reading books.
Joel Hilbrink, a multidisciplinary teacher at Ninilchik School, has had Bartolowits as a student for six years in a variety of classroom and shop settings. Hilbrink said Bartolowits is unique because she excels in college preparatory course work as well as hands-on shop classes.
“She has the ability to succeed in everything she attempts,” Hilbrink said. “She’s just a well-rounded student who’s mature enough to take care of business and get the job done.”
Hilbrink also has learned to appreciate another side of Bartolowits due to her role as Hilbrink’s teacher’s aide.
“From what I know of her if she came to me to apply for a job I would hire her in a second,” Hilbrink said. “She’s honest, dependable and can work unsupervised.
“So many students can’t do that as seniors.”
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