Four Mountlake Terrace High School seniors signed their letters of intent on Friday to compete at the next level in college athletics.
Boys basketball coach Nalin Sood congratulated all four athletes and encouraged the underclassmen who were gathered to emulate the examples that they set. “This is what you should aspire to do someday — that they’re using athletics as a vehicle to get an education,” he said. “I think that is the ultimate achievement, whether you’re going to Duke or whether you’re going to Edmonds College to have this experience, this is the greatest accomplishment.”
Alexis Ballard put pen to paper on her commitment to attend Western Washington University after she was recently selected for its cheerleading roster next year through a series of tryouts.
“My favorite thing about cheer was always performing and like feeding off of a crowd and college is just amplifying that,” said Ballard who was captain of the Hawks cheerleading squad. “And I am really excited to be a leader for a much bigger atmosphere.”
Cheer coach Kristin Garza, who came to the program late last year, said Ballard had helped her “a lot” during that time, adding, “She was my go-to” for a variety of reasons including pushing the team to do more during its practices and workouts, helping manage its calendar and social media account, “and leading the team for me.”
“So she’s going to be very missed by the program,” Garza said, “she’s already missed.”
Jeffrey Anyimah, who starred at guard for the Hawks, signed his pledge to play basketball at George Fox University, a private university near Portland that competes athletically at the NCAA Division III level. The star guard noted that he’s looking forward to “getting better,” and “especially, I’m excited just for getting to play in a new environment and new stage and just improve my game and you know, win, honestly, just go out there and win and just do what I do.”
Coach Sood said of Anyimah, “He’s going to go down in the lore of Mountlake Terrace basketball as maybe the best ever.”
He added that former Hawks players have gone on to play basketball at many different levels, including high levels. “But for the checkmarks of a student athlete,” Sood noted, “Jeffrey met every checkmark: academics, leadership, commitment, hard work, maturity, responsibility, just everything. And selfishly, I’ve got to thank him because he made me better.”
This opportunity means “I get to further my education,” Anyimah said. “I get to go play basketball, do what I love, and also just pursue my academic interests and that’s one thing I’m excited for just to grow and become a better person.”
Two players who starred for the Hawks baseball team will also be taking their talents to the next level.
“Congratulations to all the student athletes who are furthering their academic and playing careers,” said Hawks baseball coach Ryan Sells. He added, “Academically, for each one of these student athletes being able to be in this position – it’s awesome. It’s something that’s not overlooked, but something that’s granted, but also earned, so congratulations.”
Pitcher Adison Mattix inked his commitment to play for the University of Hawaii. He said he is looking forward to the step up and “just better competition. I mean, just higher intensity, just bigger ball.”
Sells said Mattix has consistently provided the team with “not only that vocal leadership, but he spoke with his actions as well, and that’s something that we’re going to miss at the baseball side of things.”
He described Mattix as a “fierce competitor,” adding, “the University of Hawaii got a great one.” Sells said, “But knowing Addison for the last three years, it’s not just the baseball side of things, he’s a great person, a great individual. That’s something that we’re going to miss the most — what he brings to the table, not just as an athlete but as an individual too.”
Mattix said the opportunity to play college baseball is “huge. I get to play on a better, more competitive team and it just means a lot to get, like someone who wants me to come and I get a better education.”
Pitcher Cody Snow signed to play for Wenatchee Valley College, a community college that competes in the Northwest Athletic Conference. Snow noted that he relishes the chance “to keep playing and advance. Being able to continue my academics while still playing baseball,” he added, “it feels like you’re still in school more than going off to be an adult — keeps a little bit of kid in you.”
Sells said the team would miss Snow’s leadership and contributions because he was always ready to help out and “that when it came to the program, he would always ask, ‘What can I do?’”
“Being able to have senior leadership and a senior leader like that, it really is fortunate to have,” he added. “We’re going to miss the camaraderie, but also him speaking loud with his actions.”
Snow said, “This is amazing for me being able to go continue to play baseball at college. I mean, that’s something I’ve dreamed about my whole life and to be able to actually continue to do it now it’s amazing.”
— By Nathan Blackwell