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Fearless on the field and fun-loving off of it, Harlee David is fitting in well at college.

PMG PHOTO: ANDY DIECKHOFF - Former Madras soccer player Harlee David is now a starting defender at the College of the Siskiyous.A familiar, smiling face was back on the sidelines at Madras High, as former soccer star Harlee David revisited her old stomping grounds recently. Once an anchor of the Buffs' back line, David came back to Madras on a quick recruiting trip with her college coaches from the College of the Siskiyous. During the visit, David caught up with the Pioneer on her progress down in California.

The former Madras defender explained that she chose College of the Siskiyous, a two-year institution located along Highway 97 in Weed, Calif., because her new head coach Ed Kephart made it feel like home.

"I made the decision because me (Coach Kephart) was willing to give me the tour," said David. "He explained the difference of the schools, the community and how it's going to feel more like home than at a big university."

For a native of Jefferson County, that cozy feeling is exactly what David was looking for.

"Growing up in a small town," explained David, "that's what I'm used to. So that's what I felt more comfortable with."

As a two-year college, Siskiyous is often used a jumping-off point for college athletes looking to make the leap to a four-year institution. David noted that she is still figuring out her future plans, but in the meantime, she is settling in well in her new home.

"Maybe later on, I will transfer to a bigger school," she said. "But right now, I felt this was the best fit. It's very similar to (Madras). It's very small, and you know everyone. It just feels very homey."

Over the past few seasons, College of the Siskiyous has produced over a dozen players who transferred to four-year institutions to continue their college careers. That number includes four players who moved on to play for NCAA Division I schools, three of whom ended up at Sacramento State University.

In David's first season with the Eagles, she has already been thrust into the starting lineup. Because Siskiyous did not play last season, the two-year school only has one sophomore on the roster. That said, David's skill in defense — not the Siskiyous roster make-up — is why she is in the starting eleven.

"She's good enough to start anyway," said Kephart.

The coach then went into some more detail on what he liked about David's overall game when he originally recruited her from Madras High.

PMG PHOTO: ANDY DIECKHOFF - After striking it rich with Harlee David, College of the Siskiyous head coach Ed Kephart, right, returned to Madras High School on another recruiting trip last month."The game I came to watch," said Kephart about his recruiting visit to MHS, "she was physical. She played hard. She wasn't afraid to get stuck in and tackle somebody. She was fearless."

"Those qualities are pretty important for our game," he added.

David reported that she had some jitters about starting at first, but the support of her teammates has helped her through the nerves.

"At first, I was a little nervous," admitted David. "Then I realized, if it came down to it, I had my team. Even if we did a mistake, we were all there, and we weren't very negative about it. I notice that a lot of people are very understanding if you make a mistake.

"At the high school level," David added, "sometimes people get kind of upset with you. In the upper levels, if you make a mistake, it's just like, 'Next one. You'll get the next one.' Everyone is just a lot more supportive."

As for other differences between the high school and college games, David noted that the players at each position compartmentalize their jobs more in the collegiate version.

"It's more organized," said David. "We focus more on our defense line, and our midfielders focus on their parts. But we all tend to work as a team."

Perhaps the biggest change, though, is that David's new teammates are total strangers.

"It's really different," David continued, "because this is a team that I'd never met before. I hadn't met any of the girls other than the ones I'd played with."

By all accounts, David has been able to assimilate well down at the college campus. She reports that since befriending her teammates, she has also branched out and met other athletes at the school. That development comes as no surprise to her new coach, however.

"She's a great kid, a lot of fun," said Kephart. "Some of the comments she comes up with, we're all rolling. She's fit in really well, and I think all the kids like her. It's a tight-knit team in general, and I think they all get along well."

"She's got a great personality," her coach added. "So she's easy to get along with."

Harlee David, Ed Kephart and the rest of the Siskiyous crew will be hoping that David's winning personality and smile can also translate into some wins on the field. The Eagles are currently 1-5-1, including an 0-2-0 mark in the Golden Valley Conference.

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