One dark January night more than 30 years ago, I took a ferry across Puget Sound to see Christian Welp play basketball for Olympic High School in Bremerton. The campus, known mostly then for its swim-gym (a playground top can be rolled atop the indoor swimming pool, creating an additional full-court) sits close to the Kitsap County Fairgrounds. When the annual fair is in full swing, cars overflow into the high school parking lot.
The night I arrived, the high school needed parking help from the fairgrounds. A 7-foot kid from Germany not only was the talk of western Washington, but he also would follow Detlef Schrempf to the University of Washington to play for Coach Marv Harshman. Had Harsh found a German Connection that would delight Husky hoop fans for years?
Christian Welp, who became Washington’s all-time leading scorer, died yesterday of an apparent heart attack near Seattle. He was only 51. Kind, talented, a great father and husband, Welp underplayed his accomplishments and was known as a terrific teammate. He was the 16th pick in the 1987 NBA draft, but a No. 1 friend to many in his community. Here’s a piece from The Seattle Times: