Ten Peninsula High School seniors are moving on to the next level to continue their athletic careers at various colleges around the country.
The school had a brief ceremony Wednesday morning in the school library to recognize the achievements of the athletes. Peninsula athletic director Phil Willenbrock said the achievement should not be overlooked.
“On average, 6 to 7 percent of high school athletes participate in college athletics,” Willenbrock said. “It’s a big deal that you’re taking your passion for sports and moving that to the next level.”
Among the Peninsula signees is water polo player Gabby Wiltse, who plays with different club teams in the region. Wiltse, who will be attending Cal State Bakersfield, practices with the Mercer Island boys club team Rain City, and plays with the San Diego Shores club team in tournaments. On average, Wiltse flies down to Southern California once a month to play in tournaments with the club. Wiltse said she’s excited for the college experience.
“I’m also really excited to be out of Washington, be on a bigger campus and have more independence,” Wiltse said. “Gig Harbor is a small community. Being in a bigger environment, I’m excited to see how I can handle that.”
Wiltse is undecided on a major, but is interested in political science. She was drawn to the camaraderie of the team.
“It’s a very close-knit team,” Wiltse said. “All the girls come from very different places. One girl is from South Africa, some from the La Jolla (San Diego) area, some from out of state, all these different backgrounds and putting it together into one team, I’m really excited. I’ll definitely fit in from what I’ve seen so far.”
Wiltse said she believes she’ll contribute positively to the team.
“I’ll bring energy,” Wiltse said. “When I get in the pool, I’ll pick up the momentum. I like to do everything possible to make sure the ball doesn’t get dropped on offense and doesn’t get moved on defense. I can bring the momentum to the team.”
Robert Kassardjian is one of the baseball team’s two signees, along with shortstop Shane Hanon. Kassardjian, who plays the corner infield spots, is headed to Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore. The right-hander batted just under .400 last season and will bring a strong bat to his college team.
“Hitting is my strong suit,” Kassardjian said. “Hopefully, I feel like I’m a leader on this team now, I’d like to lead in college also.”
The Pacific coaching staff first noticed Kassardjian at a Central Washington University camp, and later invited him to one of their camps.
“The team was extremely friendly,” Kassardjian said. “The coach was great. The whole program seemed knowledgeable. I feel like I can grow there.”
The Seahawks made it to the state tournament the past two seasons, which is one of Kassardjian’s favorite memories.
“It was a blast,” he said. “It’s been fun, growing up and being able to hit the ball and finally having power. Being successful last year was great.”
peninsula high school signees of 2014
Gabby WiltseWater PoloCal State Bakersfield
Caleb RiggsSwimmingBirmingham Southern
Shane HanonBaseballSkagit Valley
Robert KassardjianBaseballPacific University (Ore.)
Mary EldridgeCross CountryEastern Mennonite
Ben SmithTrack and FieldUniversity of WashingtonJon Manley: 253-358-4151 email@example.com Twitter: @gateway_jon