Washougal High School graduate Ellie Schmid is training hard this summer for her upcoming senior season for the Portland State University (PSU) women’s soccer team.
Nearly every Vikings player has played together for years, but not Schmid, who is new to the NCAA Division-I squad but brings a wealth of hard-earned experience to PSU.
Schmid has played for three other colleges since graduating from Washougal High in 2015.
“My college experience is crazy,” she said. “I’ve been pretty much everywhere.”
Four colleges in four years
After she graduated from Washougal, she played during the summer months for the Washington Timbers Football Club at Harmony Field in east Vancouver before moving to Olympia to play for Evergreen State College, where she experienced some tough challenges.
“I didn’t have a lot of confidence going to Evergreen out of Washougal because it was a small town and no one knew me and I could never get into a leadership role,” Schmid said. “It just wasn’t a good fit for me.”
At the end of her freshman year she called Sean Janson, the head coach of the Clark College women’s soccer team at the time and currently the executive director of Washington Timbers FC. Schmid told him, “I don’t know if you remember who I am, but you tried to recruit me and I think I want to move back home to Washougal and play at Clark College.” Janson sent Schmid a letter of intent that same day.
Schmid played for the Penguins during her sophomore year, but knew she only had one season to prove she could still be a valuable asset to a four-year college program. Janson said that Schmid shined during her lone year at Clark College.
“She’s a self-driven person who doesn’t let others stand in the way of her personal goals,” Janson said.
While playing for Clark College she also trained and played for the Timbers, led by former University of Missouri and Portland Thorns star Kat Tarr.
“It was a huge step for me because the girls were from big colleges from all over and they play at a much higher level,” said Schmid, who started pitching her experience to four-year college programs and eventually landed a scholarship with Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.
During her junior season, Schmid led the Norse in scoring and became a leader for the NCAA Division-III program, helping Luther College on a deep postseason run.
“I did well at Luther,” Schmid said. “Give credit to the Washington Timbers first team and Kat Tarr, who was the coach at the time. She was a really influential part of my development, along with Sean Janson.”
After the season ended, Schmid went home for a long January break, during which most Luther College students study abroad. Schmid went a completely different path, accepting an internship with Janson at the Timbers to help the team with social media and marketing.
It turned out to be a dream fit for Schmid, who is a communications major and fascinated with social media and sports marketing analytics.
At that point she did some soul searching and decided to pursue a life-long goal of playing soccer for PSU.
She said that leaving Luther College was difficult because of the close relationships she developed with players and coaches.
Schmid started taking classes at PSU before she made the team, but kept emailing Vikings coaches and with Tarr’s help earned a two-week trial during the spring season. Schmid played against the University of Oregon and Western Washington University, and landed a full-time spot on the PSU team.
“It doesn’t really feel like I’m a senior, but I think the girls respect me,” she said. “This year I want to have more of a leadership role like I did at Luther College and just be there for the freshmen and transfers.”
Schmid said that nearly all of her credits from her other schools have transferred to PSU, and her communications degree is in sight. After college Schmid plans to continue playing soccer at a high level.
“I don’t want to stop,” she said. “I feel like I’m just getting started, so I hope to play professionally overseas, but that’s a big move, so we will see.”
It may have been a big move four years ago when Schmid was familiar only with Washougal, but she believes the experiences gained by living in new places and leaving her comfort zone now make anything possible.