Riverview School District

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Cedarcrest High School Student-Athletes
Prepare for Sports at the Collegiate Level

Typically, on the first Wednesday every February, thousands of prospective future collegiate athletes step into their high school offices, clutching a piece of paper and a dream. On this particular day, known as National Letter of Intent Day, students make athletic commitments to schools around the nation, declaring their intent to attend and play sports for the colleges of their choice. For many, it validates the years of hard work and dedication. For others, it means what was once a dream is quickly becoming a reality. 

This year, nine Cedarcrest High School students have taken those steps to play collegiate sports at the next level.

Cedarcrest High School Athletic Director, Jason Frederick, and Riverview Communications Coordinator, Mike Ward, collected the thoughts of these students, as they accelerate towards graduation, wrap up sports commitments, prepare for finals, and try to process all that is next to come. Eager to graduate, they will soon travel around the state and across the country, taking their academic and athletic talents to the next level.

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JONNY BELL (Olympic College, Baseball)
“I love the teamwork and camaraderie that you have with your teammates while playing baseball and to be honest, the chance to play at Olympic College really came out of nowhere.

Choosing a college was tough, but I am happy I found a school that is close to home, but not too close to home at the same time. While I have not made my mind up yet on what I will be studying in college, signing the Letter allowed me a chance to keep doing what I love while I figure those things out. I am so grateful to have this opportunity.

It is hard to believe that high school is already almost over. Really, it feels like just yesterday that I was walking into high school for the first time as a Freshman.”

Jonny has played football, basketball, and baseball at Cedarcrest and hockey outside of school. His fondest Cedarcrest sports memory is pitching in his first ever game, getting the opportunity to start in that first game, and allowing just one hit and one run in what became a five-inning start.

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BEN BENSON (University of Mary, Cross-Country and Track & Field)
“When I first began looking at schools, I was a little overwhelmed with the amount of schools out there and how many I could compete at. I narrowed it down to 10, and those schools were scattered all over the country. Talking with the coach at (University of) Mary, I followed through with their offer and I could not be more excited.

With running, you receive lots of recruiting offers, so I started really looking at schools in August of my Junior year. I love the close ties that sports allows you to build with your fellow teammates. The camaraderie makes the tough workouts tolerable and allows you to push yourself harder, learning more about yourself than any other sport.

Signing my Letter, I was thinking to myself, “I have actually just signed my life away!” I am excited for a new chapter to start and am looking at studying wildlife biology, with a minor in environmental science.”

Ben is a four-year varsity letterman in Cross-Country and Track and Field, continuing at Cedarcrest after participating in the same sports at Tolt Middle School. He has also played football and baseball in his earlier years. His fondest memory of Cedarcrest sports are the friends he’s made, the four state teams he was privileged to be on, and getting to run for Coaches Bruce McDowell and Dean Vergillo.

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AARON DAVENPORT (University of Hawaii, Baseball)
As a pitcher, I love that the pace of the game is in my hands. The pressure of the game fuels me, and I absolutely love it.

I am ready for a new adventure and I can’t wait to get to the island, but truthfully, I always thought I would play at a college in the Northwest. I attended a showcase event and got a text from the Hawaii Rainbows coach, which definitely came from out of nowhere. I did have many different offers through the process, but when I made my official visit out to the school, I loved it.

All I could think when I signed my Letter was ‘This is a dream come true.’ I don’t know if graduation feels real yet, but this has slowly been sinking in for the past few months. Hawaii’s going to be my new home for the next few years and I plan on studying Kinesiology and Health Science in school.”

Aaron has played baseball, basketball, and football all four years at Cedarcrest High School. He was also recently named the Cascade Conference Baseball MVP for 2018. His fondest memory of sports at Cedarcrest was playing in the 2A State Championship Game for baseball his Sophomore year.

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ALICIA KRIVANEK (Pacific Lutheran University, Cross-Country and Track & Field)
”The fact that I’m graduating doesn’t feel real, though I have started experiencing some of the emotions associated with graduation. There’s excitement in moving on to the next part of my life, but I am also more and more nostalgic about my time at Cedarcrest.

I love the feeling of accomplishment I get after running and maybe making a personal record or placing well in a meet. Running is calming, and I appreciate that you can basically do it whenever and/or wherever you want to or need to.

Honestly, I initially had no intention of running next year at all, but Coach (Bruce) McDowell contacted the coach at PLU, once he mentioned to me that I was fast enough and good enough to compete at the college level. Signing the Letter, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to compete in a sport I love, and I felt accomplished.

Also, I was looking at private Christian schools in state, and I loved the sense of community I felt at PLU. I knew I wanted to go there and received a terrific opportunity to attend and study nursing.”

Alicia competed in Cross-Country and Track & Field at Cedarcrest, as well as competing in Cross-Country at Tolt, and playing softball in elementary school. She recalls winning the Cascade Conference Championship in Cross-Country her Junior year among her favorite Cedarcrest sports memories, and qualifying individually for State her Sophomore, Junior, and Senior Year, along with her teammates.

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ALDEN MASSEY (Seattle Pacific University, Men’s Soccer)
Hanging with my teammates, and, well, winning, are things I love about playing sports.

I have always wanted to play sports in college, but SPU as a possibility was a late development in my recruitment efforts. We had just finished playing and a coach saw me during the game and made me an offer to come and visit the school and program.

When I signed the Letter, I just thought to myself, ‘Finally, all this work has paid off.’ And in addition to playing soccer, I will be studying Mechanical Engineering at SPU, which I am ready to begin. Graduation feels real, it’s been a long time coming, and I think I can say I’m ready.”

Alden has played soccer and basketball for Cedarcrest and he shares that his fondest memory in his Cedarcrest sports career is finishing third at State his junior year with Cedarcrest Soccer.

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SOPHIE PARADIS (Western Washington University, Track & Field [Pole Vault])
“The pole vault is very unique and thrilling to compete in. It pushes me to my limits and requires a lot of hard work.

I had not even considered playing college sports until about a month before I met the coach at Western. I had pole vaulted in an open invite and Western was there and my coach introduced me to the coach and she watched my vault. We set up a recruiting tour and I met my potential new teammates, and was offered a spot on the team. Then, the Letter of Intent came via email and I am very thankful that I get to continue my favorite thing for another four years.

Signing the Letter, I was astounded and super excited and all my hard work felt like it had paid off. I am going to miss seeing my friends and teachers every day here, but am ready to start a new chapter of my life, studying Marine Biology, at a beautiful college with new people in a new environment.”

Sophie competed in Soccer and Track & Field in her years at Cedarcrest. Her fondest memories come in being able to practice with awesome and supportive teammates each day, as well as clearing the bar and setting a new personal record in the pole vault.

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ELAINE TOWNLEY (Hillsdale College, Softball)
“Groundballs. I love groundballs more than life itself. I also love diving for them!

Hillsdale is a school I have been interested in, as my sister has been going there since her Sophomore year. Plus, my parents love the school, and I first went to a camp there in 2015, loving the softball program right away. I was fortunate to verbally commit to the school in 2016.

I would say I was probably 8 years old, when I started thinking about, dreaming about, playing collegiate softball. It wasn’t until my Freshman year that I realized that academics were needed to be a consideration ahead of sports. That’s when I really started looking seriously at Hillsdale.

I’m basically a 12-year-old in my mind, so this whole graduation thing hasn’t really sunk in yet. At Hillsdale, I will be majoring in mathematics and honestly, my first thoughts when I signed my Letter was “We hecking made it!”

Elaine has played Basketball and Softball for Cedarcrest and she shares going to state twice with Cedarcrest Softball and meals at Olive Garden as some of her fondest memories with Cedarcrest sports.

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SYDNEY TURNER (Multnomah University, Women’s Basketball)
“What I love about basketball is that it is a fast-paced, aggressive, and physical game. Playing it at the collegiate level still feels surreal.

Multnomah came about when I learned that they had a young women’s basketball program and I wanted to check it out. I loved the team’s values, the coach, and that it was a small school. I reached out to the coach and we coordinated a tryout.

My first thoughts when I signed my Letter were ‘God is good, and that my legs were healed enough for me to have such a successful tryout.’

Graduation does feel totally real and I cannot wait. When I get to Multnomah, I plan on majoring in biology, hoping to one day become a nurse.”

Sydney played Girls Basketball all four years of high school, as well as participating in Track & Field her Freshman year. She was on a REC Soccer team from Kindergarten through 8th grade and played basketball at Tolt her 8th grade year. She recalls beating Archbishop Murphy her sophomore year in the 2A District Tournament as her fondest Cedarcrest sports memory, as well as making it to the District meet in Track.

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GRANT VAN VALKENBURG (United States Naval Academy, Cross-Country and Track & Field)
Since this article was first written, Grant won the 2A State Track and Field Championship in the Boys 3200 Meters on May 26, 2018.

“The USNA first reached out to me my Junior year, and the first step in selecting a college was getting into the USNA, which was an extensive process. Once accepted, I had to weigh the pros and cons of a few other colleges, and the USNA emerged as the best choice.

No different than in high school, I anticipate really enjoying the camaraderie that team sports provides in college. I love running and running collegiately allows me to train much harder and be in an increasingly competitive environment.

My “Letter experience” was a bit anticlimactic. I had a Letter of Assurance in November (2017) and received my nomination from Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, and so when the nomination came in, I just had to go online and click a button. Honestly, my thoughts at that time were, “Okay, what’s next?”

My first day at the Naval Academy is two weeks after graduation, so nothing in these final weeks has really sunk in yet! I want to study Aerospace Engineering as my first choice, with Mechanical Engineering and Naval Engineering and Architecture as other areas of interest.”

Grant has been a Cross-Country and Track & Field participant all four years at Cedarcrest, and was in Track & Field his 7th and 8th grade years at Tolt, and Cross-Country his 8th grade year in middle school. He recalls state meets and the daily grind as some fond memories. Running Ragnar his sophomore year, cross-country camps, summer meets, Grant says there are too many great memories to share.