Local student-athletes ink to play at area community college programs


The Mirror

Whether it's grades, the rising cost of tuition at a four-year university or the need to just plain get better are leading a lot of talented high school athletes into the numerous community colleges in the area.

An example of the talent produced by junior colleges came earlier this month at the 2007 Major League Baseball Draft. Over 100 players who played at a two-year community college were selected by organizations.

Several Federal Way school district athletes have committed to continuing their athletic and academic careers at the community college level.

Derek Paulino — The Federal Way High School senior has signed a letter of intent to play soccer in the fall at Highline Community College in Des Moines. Paulino, a midfielder, was a key cog for the Eagles in their unprecedented run to the Class 4A state championship game. The left-winger had two goals and two assists this season.

Highline is one of the better soccer programs in the NWAACC. The Thunderbirds won the 2004 NWAACC title and over the past seven years, Highline has a 122-27-17 record.

Stedman Richardson — The Decatur High School basketball player will suit up next year at Highline Community College. The 6-foot-3 guard led the Gators to the West Central District championship and into the Class 4A State Tournament. Richardson was an All-City player after averaging 12.9 points a game. He was also one of the best defenders in the South Puget Sound League.

Highline has won four NWAACC championships in the last 10 years and Richardson will be joined by seven other incoming freshmen.

Whitney Lynch — The Todd Beamer High School senior will play soccer at Highline Community College in the fall. Lynch had two goals for the SPSL South Division champion Titans last year.

Highline has been to the NWAACC Tournament in each of the past four seasons and finished second in 2003.

Brittany McKay — The TJ senior will join Lynch at Highline Community College in the fall. McKay led the Raiders to a pair of SPSL North championships the last two years. The defender was a first-team, All-SPSL North selection, as well as All-City. McKay had two assists for Jefferson. She also lettered 12 times while at Jefferson.

Gena Woodke — The Decatur High School graduate will play basketball at Yakima Valley Community College. The 5-11 Woodke led the Gators in scoring, rebounding, steals, blocked shots and assists. She averaged 11.9 points a game, 10.1 rebounds, 3.57 steals, 4.0 blocked shots and 1.21 assists. Woodke was a first-team, All-SPSL North selection and helped Decatur to a 6-14 record.

Yakima finished in third place at the 2007 NWAACC Tournament after finishing the season with a 29-4 record.

Chris Grove — The TJ grad will play basketball at Pierce Community College in the fall. Grove, a 6-6 forward, averaged 10.8 points a game for the Raiders in just seven games last year before being suspended after an off-campus party.

Pierce finished third at last year's NWAACC Tournament and were 21-11 overall.

Davis Johnson — The Federal Way grad will play baseball at Columbia Basin Community College in the fall. Johnson, a middle infielder, was an All-SPSL North selection after hitting .415 with one home run, 14 runs, nine RBIs and led the league with 11 stolen bases.

Columbia Basin, located in the Tri-Cities, has become one of the top baseball programs in the Northwest. The Hawks have won two NWAACC titles in the last five years.

Stefanie Rojas — The Decatur grad will play volleyball at Highline in the fall. Rojas was an all-league outside hitter for the Gators. The Thunderbird volleyball program is one of the best in the NWAACC. During the past 20 years, Highline is 196-21 with five championships.

Jenna Rochelle — The Decatur grad, who played in multiple Class 4A state golf championships, will play golf in the fall at Green River. The Gators finished fifth at this year's NWAACC Championships. Rochelle will be joined at GRCC by Decatur teammate Brynne Bettesworth and Beamer graduate Jenna Bishop. Bishop played at the 2007 Class 4A state championships.

Randal Ventura — The Federal Way graduate will play soccer at Highline CC in the fall. Ventura was an All-SPSL North Division selection as a defender and led the Eagles into the state championship game.

Kelsey Lusebrink — The Decatur grad will play soccer at Highline CC. Lusebrink was a multiple-time, All-SPSL selection as a midfielder. Last season, she had seven goals and five assists for the Gators.

Brennen Hall — The Beamer graduate will play soccer at Highline CC in the fall. Hall was also a multiple-time, All-SPSL selection as both a defender and midfielder. This season, Hall tallied 10 goals and 11 assists for the SPSL South champion Titans.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565,

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