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Molalla has athletes from five sports continuing athletic careers at the collegiate level

Eight Molalla High School seniors will continue their athletic careers at the collegiate level next year as they all had the opportunity to sign their letters in front an audience of friends and family on Thursday and Monday in the high school's commons area.

Of the eight athletes, four will be playing strictly soccer, two will be continuing their state-champion throwing careers, and the two others will be dual-sport athletes – one will be running track and playing soccer, and the other playing football and baseball.

Desirae DesRosiers

DesRosiers is a two-time state champion in the 300 meter intermediate hurdles and a first team All-State awardee among 4A soccer players. She'll continue her career in both sports at Linfield College, an NCAA Division III school part of the Northwest Conference in McMinnville, this fall.

PIONEER PHOTO: CONNER WILLIAMS  - Molalla senior Desirae DesRosiers will continue her soccer and track & field careers at
Division III Linfield College in the fall, where she'll study Nursing.

When asked what the "signing" day at MHS meant to her, she said she was excited to be able to sign with fellow track & field teammates.

"I'm excited that we all get to continue [our track careers]," DesRosiers said.

She said she was working on being recruited for both track and soccer at the same time, but the process for track was easier, since she didn't have to submit highlight videos or other materials, just her times. She also considered the University of Portland, Concordia University, Oregon Institute of Technology, and the University of Puget Sound – she wanted to remain on the West Coast.

She wants to study Nursing, which led her to Linfield College, a four-year private college with one of the most reputable nursing programs on the West Coast. She said she wants to become a trauma nurse after she gets her degree, and eventually move to Life Flight emergency services.

As for the athletic aspects that drew her to Linfield, DesRosiers said she connected well with her future coaches.

"I really like the coaches; first I met with the soccer coach and he was really nice and I really liked him," she said. "They would come out to my games … I met with the track coach first, he was the first track coach I met with out of any school, and I really liked him and what he had to show me while I was there; he felt like someone I could have a season with."

When asked how playing sports in Molalla has helped prepare her for the next level, DesRosiers noted the competition of the Tri-Valley league along with other 4A teams.

"No matter what sport you were in, there was always someone else in your league that challenged you," she said.

She said her expectations for her freshman year are that it's going to be hard, academically and athletically.

"When I talked with the soccer coach, he said I'll either be playing a right-mid or forward, and that I should get playing time as a freshman, which I was really excited to hear," she said. "And for track, I just want to get better; I love having different coaches' opinions and going into a new squad."

She said she's considering the decathlon or possibly 400 meter hurdles.

"I'm just so short, and the high hurdles are just so hard since I'm short," DesRosiers said with a laugh.

Chase Rome

Rome was a second team All-State soccer player for Molalla last season, and she accepted an offer from Division I Stony Brook University, a member of the America East Conference, in New York, prior to the school year to continue her soccer career.

PIONEER PHOTO: CONNER WILLIAMS  - Molalla senior Chase Rome will continue her soccer career at Division I Stony Brook
University in New York in the fall, where she'll study Health Science.

She said the signing day at MHS meant all the hard work she's put in had paid off, and she's excited to see where it takes her.

Rome began being recruited as a freshman when she started having conversations with a coach from the University of Washington (Brendan Faherty, now the head coach of Stony Brook), whom continued to recruit her when he moved to the East Coast.

Rome said she was drawn to Stony Brook because she admires Faherty's vision for the soccer program and wanted to play at the highest level possible.

"Playing Division I was really important to me," Rome said.

She plans to study Health Science and become a Physician's Assistant. She visited the campus, located on Long Island, twice, and she said it's not going to be "as hustle and bustle" as New York City.

Rome said she also had official visits with the University of Oregon, San Diego State University, and UW.

Rome said she's appreciated the team environment playing sports in Molalla, which has helped her to become a good teammate.

"Me playing high school sports was a nice break from all the competitiveness and it just made me find a passion again just to be for fun," Rome said.

She expects her freshman year to be competitive as she looks to secure her role on the team.

"They expect me to make an impact on the team my freshman year," Rome said.

Aaron Alexander

Alexander was an honorable mention All-State wide receiver and first team All-League pitcher this season, and he'll continue playing both sports at Division III Pacific University in Forest Grove this fall. Pacific is also a member of the Northwest Conference.

PIONEER PHOTO: CONNER WILLIAMS  - Molalla senior Aaron Alexander will continue his baseball and football
careers at Division III Pacific University in the fall, where he'll study
Criminal Justice.

"It means a lot because here at Molalla, a smaller school doesn't get a lot of recognition," Alexander said about the signing day. "But truthfully, we do have good athletes here … a lot of people leave smaller schools to go to bigger schools and get the name they don't get through smaller schools, so doing this here [at MHS] means a lot to, I know, me as an athlete, the other athletes, and to our school."

Alexander said he started thinking about playing sports in college his freshman year, and Pacific has largely been the only school in his line of sight through the process.

The Boxers' football program began recruiting him in the middle of his senior season, while he reached out to the school's baseball program his sophomore year when he went to a recruiting camp.

Alexander said playing sports in Molalla has helped him become a leader.

"We haven't always had a JV team, so we've got freshmen who just want to learn the game and start playing, so trying to step up as a team player and leading, guiding them into what we hope for the future for them, so I think it's increased my leadership skills."

Alexander said one of his favorite season overall was his junior football season when they won the first conference title since 2006.

"We had a bunch of my buddies – my brother (Austin Alexander), [Austin] Salley, Dalton [Kibbons] – just all of them, and that football season, winning league was big for us, it's the only time I've won league."

"Then this last year in baseball we got that co-league title, so those seasons stick out to me because, I mean we're up there [in the gym] on the banner, it shows our hard work, and really sticks out."

Alexander expects his freshman year to be busy as a dual-sport student athlete.

"I'm going down there early obviously for football, get a sense of my surroundings, but once school starts I'll be busy with school," Alexander said. "I've gone over their football schedule, and it's not too bad, there's a couple off-days, but their workouts aren't as long as I was expecting, which is probably because they focus a lot on school too, they've got a few study hall time as a team. I don't expect to have much of free time, but I knew that going in, and I expect to have a lot of fun doing what I love."

Rachel Bring

Bring is a three-time state champion for the Molalla track and field program; she won back-to-back titles in the Discus throw her junior and season seasons, and won the Shot Put title her junior year, while taking bronze last month. She has accepted an offer from Concordia University, a Division II member of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) in Portland, to continue her throwing career.

PIONEER PHOTO: CONNER WILLIAMS  - Molalla senior Rachel Bring will continue her track & field career at
Division II Concordia University in the fall, where she'll study Exercise
and Sports Science.

Bring signed her letter of intent with Concordia before track season even began, but she said it was nice to be able to have a signing at the high school as well.

Bring began the recruitment process during the summer before her junior year, when she began to talk to coaches throughout that year in school. Then in her senior year, she began to go on visits – five, to be precise, before she committed. She visited Oregon State, Washington State, the University of Oregon, the University of Montana, and a couple other schools before deciding on Concordia.

"[Concordia] gave me a really good scholarship, and [CU coach Jarred] Rome is a really good coach, and it's going to be nice being close to home and being able to compete at a high level," Bring said.

She'll study Exercise and Sports Science for her undergraduate degree, and will then hopefully attend the Oregon Health and Science University where she'll work to become a Physician's Assistant.

"Playing sports in Molalla has prepared me by making sure that I have a lot of other athletes around me that care just as much," Bring said. "Desirae is just as motivated and so it's nice to be her teammate because she's always pushing herself in a way that made me want to push myself."

Bring said the most significant thing she's learned in her high school athletic career is that you don't always have to win.

"It's OK if you don't win as long as you try your hardest," she said.

Her expectations for her freshman year are nothing short of high; she wants to qualify for nationals.

"I want to go straight to nationals, and hopefully I'll place because if I place I get more money, I could get up to a full ride if I keep improving," Bring said.

Kaitlyn Burke

Burke will continue her soccer career at Clackamas Community College in the fall, where she'll study pre-dentistry to become an Orthodontist Assistant.

PIONEER PHOTO: CONNER WILLIAMS  - Molalla senior Kaitlyn Burke will continue her soccer career at
Clackamas Community College in the fall, where she'll study Pre-

Of the signing day, she said she was excited for it because "it seems more real now."

"I've seen the other seniors do it in the past and it makes it seem more real," Burke said.

She contacted coach Janine Szpara for recruitment, and she eventually came out to a few of Molalla's games and asked Burke to come to a practice at CCC.

Burke said she was always planning on going to CCC, and although she never thought she would be able to play soccer at the next level, she said Molalla coach Nina Wegner encouraged her to go for it.

Burke said playing sports in Molalla has helped her build her skills as an athlete and learn the ins and outs of the game.

She said winning league two years in a row was the biggest moment for her throughout her high school athletic career.

"We just got so close as a team too, my teammates are so important to me," Burke said.

Burke said heading into her freshman year of college feels a bit like coming into high school; it's a little scary and she's "nervous about getting lost," but she'll get used to it.

Meagan Routley

Routley will also continue her soccer career at the next level as she'll head to Chemeketa Community College in the fall. She's still figuring out what she wants to study, so she'll spend her first year knocking out some core classes.

PIONEER PHOTO: CONNER WILLIAMS  - Molalla senior Meagan Routley will continue her soccer career at Chemeketa Community
College in the fall, where she'll decide on an area of study.

She said the singing showed recognition to those athletes that pursued collegiate athletics.

"Being recognized for trying to get a scholarship, trying to play soccer after high school, and trying to further your education because I'm not only going to play sports, I'm going to get a degree," Routley said. "I feel like it's just a way to be recognized for your hard work that you're trying to move forward and take that next step."

Routley said she wasn't sure if she wanted to continue playing soccer after high school, but Chemeketa Coach Sara Landis came out to one of Molalla's games, and after she talked with the players after the game, Routley emailed her looking for more information.

Routley eventually went on a tour of the college and learned more about the women's soccer program, and she said it felt like a good fit for her.

"When she talked about both the soccer program and the learning environment, it seemed like they meshed together really well," Routley said. "There are a lot of areas where you can get extra help … all of the things they offered really mesh well together and it seemed to be a really good place to go to school and play sports.

Routley said she's waiting to see if she'll be awarded funds from the Oregon Promise, and then once she's figured out what she wants to do, she plans to transfer to a four-year university.

"I think that sports teach some really good characteristics: patience, perseverance, teamwork, working with others … that really gives you a perspective on how to work with other people, how to have patience," Routley said. "There's a lot of things you don't like or maybe you're not getting recognized for some things you think you should be, so persevering through stuff like that, I feel like it teaches you some really good life lessons."

Routley said she's personally learned how to persevere as she had played on the varsity squad since her freshman year, but was never officially on varsity.

"I think it's hard to be on varsity all four years and never actually officially be on the team, but I think that sticking with it; because I really like the sport, it taught me that you can't just give up because you're not being given what you want," she said.

Routley said she doesn't know what to expect for her freshman year, but she does expect a challenge.

"You kind of get used to high school, you've figured it out here, so I feel like you're going to do the same thing there," she said. "You're going to go in freshman year just like you did in high school, uncomfortable, nervous, and you'll just have to figure it out."

Mont Child

Child is a two-time state champion in the Shot Put and a silver medalist in the Discus, as well as a football All-State honorable mention awardee as a Linebacker last season. His athletic prowess drew attention from local colleges, and he's decided to attend Western Oregon University in Monmouth, a Division II school part of the GNAC, to continue his throwing career.

PIONEER PHOTO: CONNER WILLIAMS  - Molalla senior Mont Child will continue his track & field career at Western Oregon
University in the fall, where he'll study Criminal Justice.

Child said the signing day at the high school was a concrete event that solidified the next steps in his athletic career.

He was considering also playing football for the Wolves, but his heart lies with throwing, and he wants to be able to train for track year-round. He also doesn't want to risk hurting his surgically-repaired throwing-arm shoulder again.

Child said the recruiting process began back at the beginning of the school year, and he was looking at Linfield, Pacific, and Eastern Oregon University before deciding on Western, where he'll study Criminal Justice.

"I'd say we have good athletes, so it prepares me in that fact that I have to work every day and get better, and they make me better," he said.

Child said the biggest thing he takes away from his high school athletic career is his back-to-back state titles.

His expectation for his freshman year is to hit 50 feet with the heavier 16-pound Shot Put.

"It's not really a throw anymore, it's more like a lift, and it's a lot heavier," he said.

Gage Garcia

Garcia was a second team All-League finisher last season for the Indians' boys' soccer team and helped lead the team to a semifinal appearance. In the fall, he'll continue his soccer career at Northwest Christian University in Eugene where he'll compete for the Beacons in the NAIA's Cascade Collegiate Conference.

PIONEER PHOTO: CONNER WILLIAMS  - Molalla senior Gage Garcia (middle) will continue his soccer career at Northwest Christian University in
Eugene in the fall, where he'll study either Sports Medicine or Criminology. In this photo, he's joined by high
school coach Ryan Gates (left) and NCU coach Benny Flores (right).

On Monday, Garcia signed his official letter of intent as his high school coach, Ryan Gates, and his future college coach, Benny Flores, were both in attendance.

"It's super exciting for me because all I've ever wanted is to play college ball and it's all I've ever worked for," Garcia said.

Garcia said his mother put his information on a soccer recruiting website, and he never looked at it for a long time until the beginning of the year, and it turns out Flores had been watching him thr whole year.

So, Garcia got ahold of Flores and the two began talking, Flores came to a few games, Garcia went to a few practices, and then the decision was made.

Garcia said that since he's on an Individualized Education Program, he's used to the small class sizes and small community that NCU offers.

"Everyone knows each other, they're super friendly, you're class sizes are a max of maybe 10 kids; I set in on one the other day with them and there were three kids in the class," Garcia said. "Overall, the school is just crafted really well."

Garcia said he wants to study either Sports Medicine or something related to Criminology or theory-based. His plans after school obviously depend on his studies, but he said if things don't work out at NCU, he'll try to go to a trade school and find something there for him.

Garcia then talked about his progression through the program in Molalla and how it's helped prepare him for the next level.

"My freshman year I came in and I was on JV," he said. "I just wanted to be on varsity os bad, so what happened was I used to go out to the middle school all summer long and just sit there and practice, practice, every day, every hour I could until I made varsity."

"And then finally my best friend, [MHs senior] Damon Seward, he got me to join club with him, and then we started progressing, and so basically I've just tried to get myself out there so I could play college ball."

Garcia said his favorite memory from his high school career is making it to the semifinals his senior season.

"It sucks we couldn't make it all the way to the finals, but we came in with a young team of three seniors, and everybody else had 12-plus seniors, and we made it all the way to the semis," Garcia said. "We played as a unit and as a family, and that's all that mattered."

For his freshman year, Garcia said he wants to make the first team, or at least be a sub or reserve, and push himself to be a starting player.

Conner Williams
Sports Reporter/News Contributor
503-829-2301 ext. 341
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