Meridian senior Casey Bromet admits he never really pictured himself playing collegiate soccer before.
"I came up playing in the rec leagues, but I never thought I was ever that skilled or that I knew the game that well," Bromet said in a phone interview. "I did make the Rangers and worked my way up through there, but I never really thought I'd be on a college team."
Well, Bromet obviously has enough skill that he caught the eye of the former men's soccer coach at Corban University during some college showcases. Paul Meehan ended up contacting him and persuading him to commit to the Salem, Ore., college, which plays in the NAIA's Cascade Collegiate Conference.
Meehan has since accepted an assistant coaching position at Gonzaga, and Bromet said he is interested to see exactly how he will fit into new coach Aaron Lewis' system. Lewis actually moves up from being the Warriors' associate head coach.
"I'm fairly new and fresh to all this, so we'll see how it all works out," Bromet said.
A Corban release announcing Bromet's signing lists him as a 5-foot, 10-inch defender/forward - so obviously the program is also interested to see the same thing.
"Casey is a smart, versatile player that will be able to find ways to contribute," Lewis said in the release. "We believe that his time playing for the Whatcom County Rangers has prepared him to transition well into the Warrior program."
Bromet said he played mostly outside back for the Trojans and primarily on defense for the Rangers, though he was able to push up on the attack at times. He scored one goal for Meridian this spring.
"I played a lot of defense for the Rangers, but I did get to move up to forward a little," Bromet said. "Our coach, Chris Jepson, said he liked the runs I made. I never got to score too many goals, but I liked moving up on the attack. I'm pretty confident I would have gotten comfortable with it the longer I stayed there. I like playing outside back and supplying support, too. I'm willing to do whatever they need."
Bromet, who chose Corban over Northwest University, Whitworth University and Western Washington, said he plans to major in Exercise Science and possibly return to WWU to study Sports Psychology after he graduates.
VAN DALEN TO HEAD TO SKAGIT
Lynden Christian senior Truman Van Dalen caught the eye of the coaching staff of the Skagit Valley College men's basketball team during the Boys & Girls Club Basketball Classic in Lynden when he got into a dunk off with Lynden's Zach Vis for the slam dunk title and then scored 11 points and hit a pair of big 3-pointers during senior all-star game.
The Cardinals ended up inviting him down to an open gym, and Van Dalen said it was a natural fit.
"I really liked the players, and we all got along," Van Dalen said in a phone interview. "I like how they played, and I thought I would fit in right away. Their coach is similar to Coach (Roger) De Boer - he's all about chemistry and likes to have fun and all that. I figured I might as well try it out and see what it was like."
Van Dalen has committed to play for SVC next season.
He said he made the choice over Whatcom Community College, mostly because he felt the Cardinals' style was a better fit.
"They play a four-guard offense and do a lot of fast-break and quick press," Van Dalen said. "That's what I like. It's a lot freer and a lot more loose."
Van Dalen said he expects to focus mostly on playing the 1 or 2 guard when he comes off the bench next year, depending on who is on the court with him. Van Dalen averaged 7.3 points per game as a senior and played important roles in the Lyncs' Class 1A state championship in 2011-12 and fifth-place finish at state last season.
He said he plans to study architecture or to become an elementary teacher or an insurance agent, like his father.
HODGSON FINDS PERFECT FIT AT WHITMAN
Sehome senior Lindsay Hodgson visited Whitman College last July, "and I fell in love with it on the spot," she said in a phone interview.
A second visit in October did nothing but reinforce that Hodgson had not only found the perfect place to attend college, but to continue her running career with the Missionaries' cross country team.
"Whitman was my first choice all along," Hodgson said in a phone interview. "I looked at some other small colleges on the West Coast, but when I went back there in October, I spent a night with some of the girls on the team and got to run with them and go to some classes, and that solidified it - I knew where I wanted to be."
The biggest reason Hodgson felt so comfortable on the Walla Walla campus? It reminded her of where she was coming from.
"I loved the close-knit community there," she said. "I knew I wanted a smaller school - I think that's why I loved Sehome so much. I like knowing lots of people and knowing their names. It's a smaller town, where you're a face, not just a number, and I wanted smaller class sizes. I wanted personal connection with my professors, because I learn better that way."
The closeness at Whitman spills over to the cross country team, Hodgson said.
"Getting to know the girls really got me excited to run there," she said. "The team reminds me of Sehome. Everyone is really close and good friends. I was really excited to get to know the coach, too. He was so welcoming and was excited that I had interest in running and running for them."
Though Hodgson didn't get to run at the district or state meets for Sehome as a senior - a victim of the Mariners' extremely deep and talented varsity squad - she did finish 22nd at the Northwest Conference Championships with a personal-best time of 20 minutes, 7.98 seconds.
Though she has yet to decide on a major, she said she is leaning toward the sciences and that "running has sparked an interest in nutrition and physical therapy."
CHAPPELL GETS A CHANCE TO CONTINUE RUNNING
Bellingham senior Rowan Chappell admits he would have been all right with not running in college.
And he may not have gotten that opportunity if he had decided to attend some of the other schools he was looking at - Whitman College, Reed College and Oregon State.
But he ended up selecting Evergreen State College and got the chance to continue doing something he enjoyed with the Geoducks' cross country and track teams.
"I enjoy running, and I wanted to continue, but it wasn't why I was going to college," Chappell said in a phone interview. "I would have been OK not running in college. When I chose Evergreen State, they told me there was a spot on the team, I was really excited. It's great that I get to do both."
Evergreen State competes in the NAIA's Cascade Collegiate Conference, but it was the school's academics that drew Chappell to Olympia.
He said the narrative evaluation process the school uses will give him a "more meaningful and valuable way to track my progress" than the standard grading system, and he was drawn to other differences in the curriculum.
"They do programs differently than normal classes," Chappell said. "They combine different subjects to form a more holistic approach. For example, I'll be taking a Physical Chemistry and Calculus program that are integrated together. I haven't studied that way before, but I'm really looking forward to it."
Chappell said he plans to focus his undergraduate studies on biology to help him narrow his focus a little more. Ultimately, he said he would like to "help people or help the environment."
While he's at Evergreen State, he also should help the Geoducks, as he ran a 17:43.8 in his first trip to the Class 2A State Cross County Championships last fall. In track, he finished sixth in the 3,200 at last month's 2A Sub-District Meet in 10:06.81 and ninth in the 1,600 in 4:38.83. Both times were personal bests.
THURSTON MAKES CONNECTION WITH WCC
Though she never had the chance to play with former Bellingham standout Claire Morgan, Red Raiders senior Jade Thurston said she had seen Morgan around the soccer community and found it "easy to connect with her."
That connection with the Whatcom Community College women's soccer coach ended up being the perfect solution for Thurston when she was making her college choice.
"I knew I wanted to continue playing soccer, but I wasn't sure the university was for me right away," Thurston said in a phone interview. "When Claire offered me a spot, it all kind of fit together to play soccer and figure out what I wanted to do academic-wise."
Thurston said she is thinking about looking at something with Communications as she works toward her Associate degree at WCC before transferring to a four-year school.
"I don't know where yet," Thurston said. "I just want to get out of state somewhere, and if I can continue playing soccer, that would be great."
Now that she's decided where she wants to take her next step, it's up to Morgan to determine where Thurston will best fit in with the Orcas.
Thurston played mostly sweeper for the Red Raiders the last four years, but while playing for the Whatcom FC Rangers last year she played on the wing and midfield.
"Claire said she could see me playing anywhere, but probably more up top," Thurston said. "But I could be in the back. I'm pretty sure we've got some really got defenders at Whatcom, though. Claire is really good about saying she's not sure how everybody is going to fit together, yet. She doesn't guarantee you a spot. She'll wait and see how everybody fits together and how the chemistry works out and go from there, and that works great for me."
SEHOME STUDENTS SET SAIL
The Sehome High School Sailing Club will have three seniors moving on to college who plan to continue competing in their sport.
Jack Thompson and Elsa Balton will attend Western Washington and join the WWU sailing club, while Lisa Collander will head to Lewis & Clark College and said she plans to "check out" the club at that school.
"Sailing has been a big part of my life in high school, and I want to continue that in college," Balton said in a phone interview. "I figure I might as well give it a shot."
And she'll give it a shot with one of the top sailing clubs in the country.
"Western is considered one of the top teams in the Northwest Region for college sailing - them and UW," Thompson said in a phone interview. "And Western sends more teams to nationals than UW does. Western even draws people from California to come here and sail."
Familiarity with the sailing facilities on Lake Whatcom and the opportunity to stay close to home also weighed into Thompson's and Balton's decisions to attend Western.
Balton said she made her decision to become a Viking over Lewis & Clark, Colorado College and the University of Victoria (B.C.). She plans to study Biology or Anthropology and wants to go into Pre-Med.
"It's going to be very different sailing in college," she said. "The team is student run. Instead of having a coach, it is run by other students. I think that will be fun. I think it will be nice to have more of a say in how things run."
Thompson said he chose Western over Montana State, which does not have a sailing club, and that was a major factor in his decision. He plans to major in Plastic Engineering Technology and possibly make his own boats or "something around the water."
"Sailing is addictive," he said. "It's a team sport, but it's also individual. If you can better yourself, you can help better your team, but you don't need to rely on nine or 10 other people to get better, either."
While the Western sailing club is well established, Collander said she wants to make sure the one at Lewis & Clark has enough support before committing to it.
"I want to make sure there are enough people," she said in a phone interview. "I talked to one person, and there were four of them on the team. One or two of them is graduating, and another one is in a foreign exchange program. But as long as there are people there willing and wanting to do it, it's definitely something I will look into."
Collander said she is undecided on a major at this point, but is interested in psychology and possibly minoring in art.
To report a Whatcom County student athlete that plan to continue competing on the collegiate level, email email@example.com or call 360-715-2286.
A look at the Whatcom County student athletes who either have signed National Letters of Intent or are planning to be student athletes in college:
Student athlete High school Sport College
Rachel Albert Sehome Basketball Western Washington
Natalie Anderson Sehome Cross Country/Track Lewis & Clark College
Elsa Barton Sehome Sailing Western Washington University
Bo Banner Sehome Football Central Washington
Kelli Bannerman Ferndale Soccer Saint Martin's
Emma Bennett Ferndale Track and Field Whitworth University
Grace Bills Ferndale Volleyball Whatcom Community College
Carlee Bock Squalicum Swimming Seattle University
Ashley Bolick Blaine Softball Lewis and Clark College
Brooke Bonsen Lynden Softball Bellevue Community College
Tom Bradley Blaine Cross Country/Track San Francisco
Brooke Branigan Bellingham Golf Western Washington
Jeremy Brockmann Meridian Baseball Centralia College
Casey Bromet Meridian Soccer Corban University
Mariah Brown Lynden Basketball Whatcom Community College
Aaron Burke Bellingham Baseball Oregon Tech
Rowan Chappell Bellingham Cross Country Evergreen State
Joe Charbonneau Bellingham Cross Country/Track Seattle University
Alex Check Bellingham Baseball Bellevue College
Luke Christianson Lynden Baseball Lower Columbia College
Lisa Collander Sehome Sailing Lewis and Clark College
Noah Cyr-Moore Sehome Basketball Westmont College
Bret DeGraaff Lynden Football Whitworth University
Josh DeVenere Ferndale Cross Country Skagit Valley College
Nathan Dunford Mount Baker Track and field Trinity Western
Cambie Edwards WCC Basketball Southern Oregon
Gus Evans Squalicum Swimming Denison University
James Fakkema Blaine Football Central Washington
Marcus Fakkema Lynden Lacrosse University of Great Falls
Gina Flint Squalicum Track Washington
Brittany Gappa Squalicum Cross Country/Track Boston University
Patrick Gibson Squalicum Cross Country/Track Stanford
Mario Gobbato Blaine Football Montana State Northern
Daniel Goebel Sehome Baseball Westmont College
Sydney Gray Meridian Cross Country/Track Pepperdine
Patrick Gregory Sehome Swimming Cal Lutheran
Alexa Harrington Squalicum Tennis Upper Iowa University
Lindsay Hodgson Sehome Cross Country Whitman College
Maddi Hommes Lynden Volleyball Bellevue College
Bella Hoyos Bellingham Tennis Whitworth College
McKenzie Impero Nooksack Valley Volleyball Whatcom Community College
Kahokuloa Kauhi Sehome Volleyball Everett Community College
Devon Kollmyer Lynden Soccer Simon Fraser
Tyler Knutsen Sehome Baseball Hawaii-Hilo
Josh Kraght Lynden Football Portland State
Bridget Kruck Lynden Christian Softball Mesa (Ariz.) Community College
Charlie Linneman Sehome Basketball Carleton (Minn.) College
Erika Locker Ferndale/WCC Basketball Central Washington
Brice Longanecker Sehome Baseball Yakima Valley
Forrest Longanecker Sehome Baseball Yakima Valley
Hannah Mankle Sehome Soccer Whatcom Community College
Jake Manson Sehome Baseball Yakima Valley
Max McGuinn Meridian Football University of Puget Sound
Meagan McIntyre Sehome Cross country/softball Scripps College
Relijah McMillan Meridian Track Skagit Valley College
Nathan Meppelink Lynden Christian Basketball Biola University
Matt Meyer Lynden Football Washington State
Larkyn Nelson Bellingham Soccer Peninsula College
Caleb Newman Lynden Football Army
Daniel Nielsen WCC Basketball San Diego Christian
Tanner Olson Lynden Baseball Lower Columbia College
Audrey Orem Bellingham Golf Western Washington
Bree Park Meridian/WCC Basketball Southern Oregon
Zoe Peterson Squalicum Track and field Carleton College
Dillon Quintana Mount Baker Cross country/Track Gonzaga
Austin Rapp Sehome Football Washington State
Kyler Reed Squalicum Track and field Skagit Valley College
Matt Richard Bellingham Baseball Linfield College
Chad Richter Meridian Baseball Centralia College
Palmer Sandel Blaine Football Western Oregon
Auden Schilder Bellingham Soccer Washington
Jake Schmidt Meridian Track Skagit Valley
Dak Shagren Lynden Basketball Northwest University
Rachel Short-Miller Bellingham Soccer Hesston (Kan.) College
Nick Smith Sehome Tennis Pacific Lutheran
Austyn Sprague Ferndale Baseball Everett Community College
Melissa Stadt Nooksack Valley Basketball Skagit Valley College
Zach Stalin Mount Baker/WCC Basketball Masters College
Nicole Statham Blaine Soccer Hawaii-Hilo
Michael Steele Ferndale Soccer Oregon State
Brooke Steinberg Bellingham/WCC Soccer Western Oregon
Lindy Swanson Nooksack Valley Basketball Whatcom Community College
Amanda Tapia Lynden/WCC Basketball Vancouver Island University
Hanna Tarleton Sehome Track and field Claremont McKenna College
Jack Thompson Sehome Sailing Western Washington University
Jade Thurston Bellingham Soccer Whatcom Community College
Kayla Tiemersma Lynden Christian Basketball Whatcom Community College
Truman Van Dalen Lynden Christian Basketball Skagit Valley College
Thomas Vazorka Bellingham Football Idaho State
Cody Velthuizen Lynden Christian Cross country/Track Trinity Christian
Zach Vis Lynden Football Montana
Emily Visser Lynden Christian Cross country/Track Dordt College
Ryan Wallen Blaine Golf Wyoming
Sydney Wasilewski Meridian Volleyball Walla Walla Community College
Corrie Wilson Ferndale Softball Saint Martin's
NOTE: To report a Whatcom County student athlete that is planning to continue their playing career in college, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-715-2286.
Reach DAVID RASBACH at email@example.com or call 715-2271.