By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Signing Day at Salem Academy was originally scheduled to be up at the Chapel on the second-level of the gymnasium area of the complex, but with eight student-athlete’s signing their Letters of Intent Thursday morning it was easier to do it on the basketball court that so many of the signee’s played on just a few months ago as seniors on the court.
For a 3A school to host a large number of student-athlete’s going on as each athlete has their own special memory as a Crusaders.
“I’m super excited for what the futures holds, I’ve had good memories here and in here on this gym and I’m happy I got to share it with these seven other seniors because we all worked hard,” said Sydney Brown. “We got a smaller school so it’s pretty cool that we have eight kids signing and having eight athlete’s wanting to pursue to the next level.
“And I’m all good friends with all of them. It’s super cool to see them move on.”
Brown signed with Westmont College in Montecito, California for basketball after a successful career on the volleyball and basketball courts for Salem Academy. The six-foot-plus post is also doing track this Spring for the first time in a few years.
“My coaches put me in sprinting for purpose,” smiled and laughed Brown. “And I’m just doing the hurdles for fun of it because I did in the eighth-grade. Track is just really for fun and I’m not taking it as serious as basketball was and Volleyball.”
On the track front, Wilson McLean (Concordia-Irvine) and Krista Mulkey (George Fox University) signed their Letters for their respective colleges.
Mulkey, who started Track as a Junior, was approached by GFU that evolved into Thursday’s signing as Mulkey finished 11th in the 400 meter race at State last season and looking to return this season for some momentum for college next season.
“So I started doing Track my junior year and I didn’t expect this to continue onto the collegiality/college-level. He just kind of came up and talked to me and I was like, ‘oh wow, this is something that I can continue,” said Mulkey. “Just working really hard during practice and pushing during workouts and during track meets to help get to the level I need to be.”
McLean, probably one of the best sprinters in 3A and at Salem Academy in a few years when it comes to Track,
“It’s really nice knowing what’s ahead of me, knowing what the future holds for me. I’m really excited I mean it’s a really great school, it’s a really awesome experience every time I go. I don’t know, I’m really excited to take the next steps in both my academics and my athletics,” said McLean. “It’s a really exciting process.”
“Finish the school year strong, keep your grades up as always and Friday…big meet out at Regis for Regis Twilights and just get work done there and get work done at Districts and State. Just let it all hang out, I’m really excited.”
Maybe we’ll see The Headband Gang in the 4×100 and 4×400 relays before the season is over.
Speaking of Headbands and Skullcaps, the lone football player along the two tables was Blake Dobson. After his Honorable Mention as a Defensive End as a junior and a First-team All-League as a Linebacker as a senior, Dobson is making the move to the legendary Linfield College football program in McMinnville this upcoming Fall.
Yes he maybe nervous walking into a program that hasn’t had a losing record in decades, the opportunity is something worth the nerves after being coached by a great coach in Gary Johnson.
“I just learned how to work really hard and just work hard in practice and opportunity will come,” said Dobson. “It’s super awesome to be able to go to such a good program and put in work and hopefully get some minutes. Just working with all the great players that they’ve already have and hopefully trying to get to their level and perform.”
Aimee Smith will remind in the Pacific Northwest, but will be in Washington as Smith signed her Letter of Intent to play at Withworth University in Spokane, Washington. Like long-time friend in Sydney Brown, the Salem Academy guard is too carrying a nice resume of awards and accolades to the four-year level as she joins the Pirates.
“It’s really great because not only is it a Christian school, I just love the area in general and it has what I’m looking for in a school and the community there is just really great and super nice. I already know people who go there so it’s going to just be like another home,” said Smith.
Speaking like feeling like at home, Kara Stanridge and Abby Mayta are continuing their volleyball careers together at Lane Community College.
“I’m really excited to continue playing with her, it was fun playing with her through High School and just continuing to our future together,” said Mayta on playing with Stanridge.
“It’s really exciting, we’ve been best friends for a long time so it’s fun to have that experience together,” adds Stanridge on continuing her career with Mayta.
Mayta and Stanridge were on the sixth-place Crusaders Volleyball team this past year and both are excited to see what the Titans and Head Coach Stephanie Willett
“We learned a lot from our coach this year and I’m excite to see where the Lane coach as in store for us and obviously being with new teammates and being as a team again,” starts Mayta.
“Just being in a new environment helps being with a new group of people, new experiences and it’s a lot more easier to get involved with new people and being involved with a new team so it’s just really excited to experience new things together,” Stanridge said.
Eva Hardy signed with Pensacola Christian College for basketball, joining sister Emma as part of the Eagles program.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald