Soccer journey to Stanford
After high school wraps up in June, a dozen Papermaker athletes are ready to chase more dreams in college.
Anyssa DeVera, Liam Fitzgerald, Liam Fitzpatrick, Brian Humphreys, Bennett Lehner, Caleb Lightbourn, Caleigh Lofstead, Brian Murray, Lauren Rood, Fiona Samodurov, Sarah Yang and Erika Weber penned their futures on National College Signing Day Wednesday, at Camas High School.
“Everybody is obviously a really good athlete up there, so it’s just an honor to be up there with those people,” DeVera said. “Every one is going their separate ways. Every one has put so much hard work into this. It’s awesome.”
“It’s our dream,” Samodurov added.
After helping the Camas girls soccer team finish in third place at the state tournament, DeVera and Samodurov will continue their soccer connection at Grand Canyon University, in Phoenix.
“We honestly weren’t planning it,” Samodurov said. “I guess GCU came on the radar for both of us. We both visited at different times and we both fell in love. It worked out perfectly.”
“I remember the game that the coach came to watch, Fiona and I ended up scoring the game winner and the first goal,” DeVera said. “They were talking to me, but I had no idea they were talking to Fiona, too.”
Yang was also key cog in the Papermakers’ rise to the Final Four. She signed to play soccer at Chico State, California.
Rood played soccer with DeVera, Samodurov and Yang for years in club and high school. The nationally and internationally well travelled goalkeeper is on her way to defend the net at Stanford University.
“We all went our separate ways and played on separate teams, and now we’re all back together sitting at the same table,” Rood said. “These girls are going to do some incredible things. I’m proud of all of them.”
Although it was hard for Rood to watch her best friends play soccer for high school while she was training for her next big tournament miles away, she never missed a Papermaker game when she was home.
“There’s something special about high school soccer,” she said. “You get to play with your best friends. You don’t get to do that in club or other areas of soccer.”
Lehner, the 2015 4A Greater St. Helens League boys soccer Player of the Year, is going to the University of Dayton, Ohio. He will never forget his overtime golden goal that helped the Papermakers beat rival Union in 2015.
After one more soccer season with the Papermakers this spring, Murray will attend Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts.
Humphreys brings his love for golf to Boise State University. He won a state championship as a freshman, placed second at state as a sophomore and finished fourth at state as a junior. Humphreys has one more shot at that top spot at state this spring.
Lofstead will vault to Vanderbilt University. She is the reigning, and soon to be defending, 4A state champion in the pole vault, once she completes her final season of gymnastics.
Fitzgerald will join the football program at Central Washington University, in Ellensburg. The Camas quarterback became the 4A GSHL Offensive Player of the Year in 2014 and 2015. He said he looks forward to going right back to the bottom, and working his way up to a starting spot with the Wildcats.
Lightbourn will continue kicking footballs for the University of Nebraska. He has been chosen as a two-time top prospect at the Kohl’s Kicking National Invitational Scholarship Camp, where he gained the attention of the Cornhuskers.
After one more spring on the diamond in his hometown, Fitzpatrick will continue hitting baseballs at Whitworth University, in Spokane.
Weber heads north to play volleyball for Bellevue College. She set the school record for most digs in a game during her final season as a Papermaker.
Rood is one of the many Papermakers ready to take on the world after high school. A dream came true for 12 of them today. Tomorrow, it’s time for them to chase new dreams.
“Don’t ever shy away from something just because you are afraid to fail doing it,” Rood said. “I’ve failed plenty of times, and I’m still doing OK.
“Don’t be afraid to fail, and if you do, don’t hang your head over it. React properly so you can turn that failure into a learning experience,” she added. “You can do something great again. [These athletes] are all capable of greatness. They do have to mentally get through it, and I know they will.”