Gig Harbor High School has one more collegiate student-athlete signee to add to its list. Senior wrestler Mackenzie Schwendeman will be taking her talents to Warner Pacific College in Portland, Ore., next year. The school held a small ceremony in the library to recognize the senior on Wednesday morning. Warner Pacific head wrestling coach Frank Johnson was in attendance, which is a bit unusual for a letter of intent signing. Schwendeman appreciated the gesture.
“It means a lot,” Schwendman said of Johnson's presence. “He really cares about the kids that are on his team and all the people that he's coached in the past have spoken nothing but good about him.”
Warner Pacific, a private, liberal-arts college, has an enrollment of about 1,500. Schwendeman said she liked the small, tight feel when she took her visit.
“I picked it because the entire school is community based and it's a private school,” she said. “It's smaller in size. When I went for my first visit, every single person that I saw smiled back at me.”
Gig Harbor athletic director said few high school athletes get the chance to compete at the next level, and encouraged Schwendeman to make the most of it. He took a moment to recognize her 3.6 cumulative GPA at Gig Harbor High. Schwendeman plans to study pre-med in college.
“Mackenzie is a great fit for Warner Pacific,” Johnson said. “95 percent of students who graduate with 3.5 (GPA) or better get into the med school of their choice. We're excited. She'll have tremendous opportunities. We're going to travel around the world and compete internationally.”
Schwendeman will also be a part of history. Next year will be the first year of Warner Pacific's wrestling program, for both men's and women's.
“It's going to be awesome, being able to go onto a team and nobody is competing against each other,” Schwendeman said. “There's no, 'I've been here before you, I'm better.' Everybody is going in at the same time, we're going to build a family bond and be as close as we can.”
Schwendeman said during her visit, she talked with Johnson for a couple hours, and his passion was evident.
“I fell in love with his way of coaching and the way that he described everything and all of his goals and plans for the future and the team,” Schwendeman said. “It was just really exciting to know that my coach was someone who cared that much about the sport and women's wrestling.”
Sports reporter Jon Manley can be reached at 253-358-4151 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_jon.