A couple of Gig Harbor High School’s standout athletes have nailed down their college commitments.
Senior Liz Fredrickson, a volleyball player, will continue her career at Columbia University in New York City. And Senior Nick Edens will stay a little closer to home as he committed to play basketball at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande.
Fredrickson, a middle blocker, also plays for the Kent Juniors Volleyball Club. She originally committed to the University of Portland, but the Pilots went through a coaching change, and Fredrickson reopened her decision.
With the help of her dad, they sent emails to various schools to gauge mutual interest. Columbia was one of the schools that attended a club tournament in Las Vegas a couple months ago, and Fredrickson saw it as a unique opportunity.
“Throughout this experience, I’ve just kept an open mind, the best opportunity I could find that came along,” Fredrickson said. “I really lucked out. Columbia is a great school. I think it’ll be such good preparation for the plans I have for my future.”
Columbia, an Ivy League school, has a volleyball program that is trending upward, Fredrickson said.
“They’re going in a really good direction,” she said. “They have goals to win the Ivy League and make the (NCAA) tournament. I’ll be able to bring a lot of passion and desire to meet those goals as well. I’m hoping I’ll be able to come in and make a positive impact on the team and the league.”
In addition to collegiate athletics, Columbia provides an opportunity for a world-class education in one of the biggest, most vibrant cities in the world.
“I’m excited about a lot of things,” Fredrickson said. “I’ve always loved to experience new things. It’s an experience I couldn’t have anywhere else.”
Fredrickson hasn’t decided on a major yet, but she would like to minor in Spanish. She said she’s thankful for the community support throughout her high school career.
“The Gig Harbor community has shaped me as a person,” Fredrickson said. “All of the people here have made me who I am. All of the parents, teachers, friends, have taught me how to, helped me grow up in so many different ways. I’m so thankful to live in a community like this. Everyone has been supportive. I couldn’t be more lucky.”
Among those she thanked were her parents, Gig Harbor Tides head coach Sue Westering and various club coaches, such as Lissa and Slade Klein, Michael Miller and Paula Schwan. She also thanked her teammates.
Edens, a post player for the Tides, will go down a different path. He wanted to continue his career at a smaller, intimate school, and he said Eastern Oregon is a perfect fit.
“It’s a small-town university,” Edens said. “I fit into a small town better than a big city kind of place. It’s got a beautiful campus. It’s gorgeous.”
Edens also was drawn to second-year head coach Jared Barrett.
“He knows the game of basketball really well,” Edens said. “You work hard, give him your best effort, and that’s what he expects. That’s something I can do. He’s a really intelligent, nice guy. The guys love playing for him, which is something that’s big.”
The school has plans for Edens as a power forward, but the 6-foot-8 standout could probably play the small forward position as well, because he has a good jump shot that can stretch defenses.
“We’ve talked about my ability to shoot the basketball and be able to drive inside and create options,” Edens said. “Hopefully, through my conversations with (Barrett), hopefully we can incorporate that into the game plan.”
Edens is excited about all facets of the experience.
“I’m looking forward to the college atmosphere,” he said. “It’s a new start. Everything is fresh. I’m looking forward to being a college athlete. Everyone in the town knows who you are.
“I’m excited for college. Your life starts to get the ball rolling. Playing college basketball is a great opportunity for me.”
Edens also thanked the community.
“I appreciate the entire Gig Harbor community for all the support they put forth this season for the Tides basketball team and myself,” he said. “And, also, for making this such a great city to play for. I’ll do my best to represent the city and the people here the best way possible, moving forward as a collegiate student-athlete.”