While many athletic careers come to an official end on graduation day, for eight Cottage Grove seniors, Saturday’s graduation was just the next step in the process to becoming college athletes.
Taking their talents to a university, community colleges or junior colleges, Cottage Grove’s Samantha May, Cassidy Herbert, Lauren Witty, Wyatt Sayles, Konrad Raum, Paesen Timm, Erick Giffen and Dylan Graves will be playing sports at the next level.
“In middle school, when we were coming up to high school, everybody talked about us. ‘They’re a super athletic class, this is going to be awesome,’” remembers May. “It’s been really fun having a bunch of us playing sports all throughout high school and now we’re all going on and doing our own things all over the West Coast.”
May, who will be attending Northwest Christian University in the fall, is one of three players from last year’s second place volleyball team who will be playing in college. Teammate Herbert will be at Lane Community College while Witty is going to Linn Benton Community College.
“All of us had always dreamed of this day and being able to play at the next level. We never knew if it was really going to be a possibility but having such a successful season it opened some doors for us and now we get to go play,” said May, the CGHS class of 2019 salutatorian.
While the volleyball team has found success on the floor unlike any CGHS team before them, for Witty, she saw that it all started with the team’s academics.
“The coaches that have built this program have realized that school does come first. So, because obviously you can’t go anywhere just being athletic, you need to have the grades to get somewhere as well,” she said. “So by putting school first you create students and then you build on top of that with having athletes do sports and athletics and you push them to be better than they think they could be and that’s what’s happened over the many years that I’ve been part of the program.”
Another team that found great success over the past four years was the Cottage Grove football team. The 2017 state champions, were aided by the talents of quarterback Graves and wide receiver/defensive back/kicker/punter/kick-returner Giffen. This dynamic duo is heading south to play football at Shasta College.
Graves reached out to the Shasta College coaching staff, they were quickly impressed with his resume and wanted him to join the team. He then told them about Giffen who they also liked and now the pair that has caused problems for teams across the Sky-Em league and state are together again.
“I’m going to be moving about four hours and 30 minutes away and it’s nice having my best friend go with me,” said Graves. “It just makes me more comfortable and will be a fun experience once I’m down there.”
Another duo that is staying together is Raum and Timm who will be attending Umpqua Community College to run cross country and track.
Similar to the recruiting process for Graves and Giffen, the UCC coach reached out to Timm and Timm told him to also take a look at Raum.
“It makes it a little more comfortable going into the first day of training knowing that I already know somebody,” said Timm.
The pair of runners are looking forward to continuing to run together but more than anything they are excited about the farther distances that they will get to race.
“I’m really looking forward to cross country because now it’s an 8K instead of a 5K so that’s going to be cool. I think I’m better at longer distances so I’m ready to see what I can do there,” said Raum. “I think it’s going to be way cooler than anything I’ve ever done before.”
The final CGHS athlete playing in college is the pitcher Sayles who will be joining the Chemeketa Community College baseball team.