Clackamas student-athletes thankful for opportunity to keep playing
One by one, each of seven Clackamas High School student-athletes at the Feb. 13 National Signing Day ceremony stood and said: "Thank you."
They thanked their mothers and fathers. They thanked their teammates. They thanked their coaches. And they thanked everyone else who played a role in helping them make a dream come true — the opportunity to continue their education and playing careers in college.
When it was Kristin Senatra's turn to say a few words, she announced that she had accepted a scholarship to play NAIA women's golf at Corban University in Salem.
"I want to start off by thanking God for all the wonderful opportunities and blessings that He has put in my life," she said. "I also want to thank my grandpa in the back, for getting me involved in golf and for being the best golfing partner out there."
Senatra also thanked her parents, teammates, and coaches, and she gave a special shout out to Corban coach Charlie Marshall for the opportunity to play for the Warriors next fall.
"Really, just thank you to all of my loved ones," Senatra said. "Even though it did take a lot of hard work and perseverance on my part to be standing here right now, it also takes an amazing support group.
"I am so thankful for all of you, and I wouldn't be where I am without you guys. I really can't thank any of you enough."
Here's a brief look at the most recent group of Clackamas college prospects:
PETER CURRAN (University of Montana / men's lacrosse / business, accounting): Curran has been playing lacrosse since the fourth grade and had about 14 other offers from mostly small schools in addition to the offer he received to play for the Grizzlies in the Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association.
Q: What does it mean to have an opportunity to continue playing lacrosse in college?
A: "Man, it means the world to me. Ever since I started playing, I've always watched kids playing in college, I've always dreamed about playing in college, and now to have the opportunity to go out there and play at the next level, it's awesome."
Q: What advice would you give young athletes who aspire to play in college?
A: "The No. 1 thing, by far, is to just reach out. Before every tournament, I used to email every, single coach that was playing. Even if you're not the best player on the field, you can go and have one good game and coaches will start looking at you and start recruiting you. The biggest thing is to reach out and get your name out there."
NICK ESPINOZA (Southern Oregon University / football / undecided): A 6-foot-3, 250-pound offensive tackle, Espinoza was named to the Mt. Hood Conference's all-league first team as both a junior and a senior. Espinoza's first contact with the Montana program was about this time last year when Raiders head coach Charlie Hall visited Clackamas, starting a conversation that led to an official visit to Ashland and a scholarship offer.
Q: What does it mean to have an opportunity to continue playing football in college?
A: "I've been doing this since first grade and it's been my life for the past 10-plus years, so it means everything that I get to continue playing for a couple more years."
Q: If you could go through the recruiting process again, what would you do differently?
A: "Maybe I wasn't as open on social media as I could have been and maybe I didn't talk to as many coaches as I could have, either. You need to put yourself out there and I don't think I did enough that. Maybe I missed out on some opportunities, but I'm still happy with how it worked out."
ALEX HALL (Central Washington University / football / geology): The 6-2, 290-pound Hall anchored the middle of the Cavaliers' offensive line each of the past two seasons, earning all-league, first-team honors as a senior after receiving honorable mention as a junior.
Q: How did you connect with the Wildcats?
A: "It started out as a game-day invited during my junior year. I took the campus tour and I really liked the campus, so I came back for another game that same year, and the second time was just me going up on my own. After that, I kept in touch with the coaches a bit more, and then I went to Central's one-day prospects came the day after our team camp in June.
"Then in late July, I went to a camp at Puget Sound. The coach there and Central Washington coach Chris Fisk are friends, so Coach Fisk was there. He watched me and then pulled me aside with another guy and worked with both of us. Then when the camp ended, he gave me my offer."
Q: What does it mean to you to have the opportunity to continue playing football in college?
A: "It means a lot. As a young kid, I had the dream of playing in the NFL, so college was the step in the middle. Now that I'm older, I realize that the NFL isn't my dream anymore, but playing college ball and enjoying the college experience is. People that I've talked to who have gone to college have said it's one of the best times of their lives."
CARSON MOFFETT (Mt. Hood Community College / baseball / pre-aeronautical science): Moffett saw action in left field last spring when the Cavaliers won a fourth consecutive Mt. Hood Conference title and went 23-8 with an appearance in the OSAA 6A semifinals.
Q: Did you find the Saints or did the Saints find you?
A: "I was going to hitting coach Darold Ellison at 503 Baseball and he used to coach at Mt. Hood and he thought I had the ability to play there. So, he reached out to them and said that I was available. We talked after that and they had me out to a practice and the relationship just went from there."
Q: What position are you projected to play for the Saints?
A: "They recruited me as an outfielder, in general, but they saw me more as a good fit in left field, given what they have right now and what's coming in next season. So, that's where they plan to play me."
GRAYSON PIBAL (University of Montana / football / journalism, broadcast media): A fixture on special teams as the Cavaliers' long-snapper the past three seasons, Pibal had a hand in one of the biggest plays in program history – Jeffrey Nelson's 37-yard field goal that lifted Clackamas to a 31-30 victory over South Medford in the 2017 OSAA 6A state championship final.
Q: How did you connect with the Grizzlies?
A: "Montana entered the picture last summer when they invited me to their football camp. I have friends who live in Montana and I fell in love with it over the summer. They ran an awesome camp, the coaches liked me, I liked the coaches, and Montana is where I want to be. It's a great place."
Q: What does it mean to you to have an opportunity to continue playing football in college?
A: "It means the world to me. It's probably one of the happiest feelings of my life. I honestly don't even know how to explain it. It's something I've dreamed about as a kid playing 'Madden' video games and thinking, 'I want to be in the game.' Or something like that."
KRISTIN SENATRA (Corban University / women's golf / psychology): Senatra helped make program history as a sophomore when was the No. 2 golfer on the Clackamas team that placed fourth at the 2018 OSAA 6A girls golf state championships at Trysting Tree in Corvallis — the first Cavaliers' team to bring home a state trophy. She then came back as a junior and again was the No. 2 golfer to help pace the Cavaliers to another fourth-place finish.
Q: How was the recruiting process for you?
A: "It was a great experience. I didn't apply to too many schools. I didn't want to have too many options to choose from because that would have been kind of stressful. It would be hard to narrow down when I didn't have a whole lot of time. Corban coach Charlie Marshall has been so great and super supportive, so I chose Corban mainly because of the support I felt there and the great environment there."
Q: What does it mean to you to have an opportunity to compete in college?
A: "Oh, my gosh, just everything, really. It feels so surreal still. I don't really have too many words. But it feels like such a great blessing. If you would have told me a year and a half ago that'd I'd be here right now, playing at the next level, I would not have believed you. It's really a dream come true and I couldn't be any more grateful for it."
BRODY UPTON (Mt. Hood Community College / baseball / business): Upton was one of six Clackamas players to earn all-Mt. Hood Conference, first-team honors last spring after he batted .365 (19 for 52) with six doubles, nine RBIs, and 12 runs scored in 17 league games. He then caught the attention of Mt. Hood coaches in October after his Mercedes-Benz Baseball Club team scrimmaged with the Saints.
Q: How did you become a catcher?
A: "One of my youth coaches, Chris Jensen, threw me in there and everything just clicked. I played a little bit of shortstop when I was younger and first starting out. Then I pitched, played first base, played outfield … and then I fell in love with catching my freshman year and really started to get after it. Now, it's my senior year and I'm going to go out and hopefully get Mt. Hood Player of the Year."
Q: If you had it to do over again, would you go about the recruiting process any differently?
A: "I'd get into it a little bit earlier. I waited a little bit too long, but thankfully I got offers and people believed in me. But other than that, I'd just start earlier and get my name out there. The goal is to play Division I baseball after this, so I'm going to work my butt off and get after it."