As one piece of their story ends with high school, senior athletes here are looking forward to playing on the grand field of a college campus a year from now. December is the big month for college coaches to arrive here and check out players, so athletes are putting their hearts into not only their sport, but also their academics.
Talented players here will often receive letters in the mail from colleges talking about potential scholarships. This month athletic director Todd Nagel will be interacting face-to-face with college coaches that want to get to know the athletes to decide who will advance their teams the most. He states that financial aid that can be offered to student-athletes, but it differs for each candidate.
“I [already] had a football coach come in, and they’re not offering scholarships for [the athletes here],” Nagel said. “If they think they can help their program, then they want to help them get into school.”
When coaches come here, they are usually looking to build relationships with the athletes, since most of them are from Division III colleges that work with financial aid packages more often than scholarships.
“I get letters for kids two or three [times] a week. Usually, the letters are introductory things, where they’re making contacts. If they want to recruit you to a point where they’d want to give you money, there would be a coach on campus here to see you face-to-face,” Nagel said.
However, there are athletes here who have worked on their skills and have created relationships with colleges for the future.
Senior Staci Tatum has been playing soccer all of her life. Her astounding success of being titled the Most Valuable Player for her sophomore, junior and senior years on the varsity team here makes her first and second conference team trophies all the more special. Not to mention the fact that she also got first team in All-State this year.
She wants to keep that consistent stride of accomplishment going, looking at Division I, II and III colleges for her future.
“I expect college to be pretty intense. I know that no matter where I go, it will be intense,” Tatum said.
Tatum is currently looking at Western Oregon University, Portland State University and Lewis & Clark College but is not exactly sure where she wants to go yet.
“I’ve been talking to [the Lewis & Clark College] coach and he really likes me, but I’m not sure if I want to go there because they don’t have business and that’s what I want to do for school,” Tatum said.
While academics may be of higher importance for her, Tatum is in the process of connecting with colleges around the area.
“I don’t want to go far away from home. I like it here,” Tatum said.
It looks like students here might get the opportunity to see Tatum’s success in college soccer live with the ability to watch her grow on the field here in Oregon.
Turning to the football field, senior Ben Bachman has been playing contact football since fourth grade, and his family has made the game a big part of his life.
“My dad’s a long time 49ers fan [and my] mom’s a Redskins fan. My dad would always try to buy me 49ers gear, little jackets, all that stuff,” Bachman said.
This brought Bachman aspiring to play football on either Western Oregon University or Pacific University’s field. The latter has a physical therapy program, which turns out to be Bachman’s main career choice.
“I want to go into sports therapy and medicine, and [Pacific University is] really good for that,” Bachman said.
The only thing is that Pacific University is a Division III school, they can only hand out academic scholarships, while Western Oregon University is a Division II school, which allows them to offer some sports scholarships. Overall, Bachman states that he has made a better relationship with the Pacific University coaches.
“If I do pretty [well] this year, like a 4.0 or a 3.8 [G.P.A.], then I think I could get an academic scholarship because my cumulative will be pretty good,” Bachman said.
Even though the weather outside is getting colder, the hearts of the players here are still warming up for the hopeful future ahead of them.
“As long as you work hard and keep your eye on the prize, you can accomplish anything you want to,” Bachman said.