Even before Redmond High soccer sensation John Fishbaugher set foot on the campus of Seattle University, he had already put together quite a resume.
While a Mustang, Fishbaugher was a two-time first-team all-4A Kingco selection and was also named the league’s MVP in 2004, his senior year. The talented midfielder also had the honor being named to the first-team all-state squad. He scored 15 goals and set the all-time assist record during his time at Redmond.
And that was just the beginning.
As a freshman with the Redhawks, Fishbaugher started in all 23 games of the season, helping Seattle to the NCAA Division II national title with his speed and versatility at midfield. In the upcoming years, he continued to excel on and off the field, being named SU’s “Student Athlete of the Week” during his senior year.
Fishbaugher completed his lifelong dream of playing professional soccer by recently signing with the Seattle Sounders fresh out of college.
“I’ve always wanted to play professional soccer,” said Fishbaugher, a starting midfielder for the Sounders. “Through elementary school, high school, then in college as well, though college was a big struggle with school and everything. It was a lot of work, but it’s been a payoff.”
Fishbaugher, who admitted that juggling academics and an intense soccer training schedule was “an art form,” ended up earning a degree in Biology while maintaining a 3.45 GPA.
A MUSTANG AT HEART
The 5-foot-10, 175-pound Fishbaugher fondly looks back on his time in a Mustang uniform, particularly the 2003 season in which Redmond (9-5-4) won its first playoff game since 1999.
“I would say junior year, we made playoffs and had a great group of guys,” said Fishbaugher of his greatest Redmond soccer memory. “It was a lot of fun, it wasn’t so much just the soccer, but getting to spend time with the guys on the team, I really enjoyed it.”
He also commended longtime Redmond head soccer coach Pat Scheibe for instilling valuable life lessons in his players.
“What I liked about Pat was that he was very reserved, he never got in your face,” recalled the 22-year-old. “He was a great soccer coach, but he was also a great person to have as a mentor—making sure guys were good off and on the field.”
Likewise, Scheibe remembers Fishbaugher as a tenacious kid with a great feel for the game, even during the times he would attend the Mustangs’ open-field team practices as a junior high student.
“Passion, desire and a very strong work ethic,” said Scheibe of Fishbaugher’s strengths as an athlete. “He is someone that genuinely loves the game and was always looking to improve … help others around him meet their full potential.
“(Fishbaugher) is a great role model for what it takes to succeed in any endeavor.”
Fishbaugher is the middle of three brothers that each played soccer for Redmond. The youngest of the bunch, Matt, was a first-team all-Kingco selection as senior, tied a school record for most goals in a season (11), and currently plays midfield for the Western Washington University Vikings.
“It’s the family sport,” he said.
Many successful college athletes have trouble adjusting to the professional ranks for one reason or another, but Fishbaugher was fortunate to be brought into the Sounders organization with a fellow Redhawk, defender Jason Cascio, a close friend, roommate and teammate.
“It’s fun to have someone there you know coming in, the guys here accepted us real well,” Fishbaugher said. “The transition’s been really easy … the level of play is so much faster than in college, but I think we’re adapting really well and enjoying our experiences here.”
Fishbaugher said he plans to continue playing professional soccer “as long as my body will last,” but eventually would like to go back to grad school and get a doctorate in physical therapy.
Although he has won numerous awards in his prep and post-secondary soccer career for his outstanding play, work ethic and commitment to the game and his teammates, Fishbaugher knows that he is extremely fortunate to be living every soccer-playing kid’s dream.
“Just stick with it, keep your head up,” advises Fishbaugher to athletes wishing to pursue a career in major league soccer. “It’s not an easy road, nothing’s given to you, but good things will come to people who work hard.”