For a select few high school athletes, their choice of college is dependent on where they want to continue competing.
While the National Letter of Intent Signing Day is different for many sports, most commitments are finalized by midway through senior year. So far, seven Monroe High School students have accepted invitations from their institutions of choice for the 2017-18 school year.
Wesco varsity girls soccer forward Madison Bradley, who signed with Central Washington University on Feb. 7, said she knew from a young age she wanted to become a college athlete. She has trained and cross-trained, balanced hours of practice and academics, and experienced her share of setbacks.
Bradley dislocated both kneecaps, once during a game and once at practice. She spends 10-12 hours per week on soccer, and many more on strength, speed and agility training, and currently holds a 3.86 GPA.
“I did everything I can to get to the next level, but suffered from two knee surgeries along the way,” she said.
Monroe High School athletic director Mark Henderson said students aren’t pressured to play sports in college, but they are talked to and counseled about the decision. Having coaches like Michael Bumpus, who played for the Seattle Seahawks, helps students get where they want to go by being able to work with someone who knows what it takes to get there and the connections to properly promote the athlete, he said.
Wesco varsity softball outfielder Megan Rybar will attend Corban University in Salem, Oregon next year. She currently holds a 3.5 GPA, and will have 80 percent of her tuition paid for as a college athlete. She has tried her hand in a variety of team sports since age 6.
“I am fast, I could have done track,” Rybar said, but competing in a group setting, “I made new friends,” and “came out of my shell a little.”
Her most memorable experiences she will take with her are the two games where she made the big catch.
“I caught two balls that were going over the fence,” she said. “I put my glove on the fence and caught it before it went over, and we won the game because of that. It was a pretty good feeling.”
Henderson said he tries to encourage student athletes to play and succeed in different sports. Colleges want to see their incoming students have a well-rounded skill set, and it prevents injuries from repetitive activity, he said.
Chandler Kovacevich will be a part of University of Washington Rowing, an internationally competitive team, he said. He has always been a basketball player, but started rowing in his junior year of high school. He has the perfect body type, he said — long and lanky.
He said he likes performing in a setting where “no one is the superstar, it’s the whole boat.”
Kovacevich has already proven a commitment to the sport by driving to Everett for three-hour practices six days each week on the Snohomish River, fueled by three tanks of gas. On top of everything, he has managed to hold a 3.97 GPA.
“We are just really proud of the kids,” Henderson said.
They are hard workers in and out of the classroom, and good people, “so it’s exciting to see opportunities open up for them,” he said.
JJ Jerome, varsity running back and one of the top high school football players in the state, is still deciding on which college he will attend next year, Henderson said.