By Felix Zavisubin
Fourteen student athletes have signed a letter of intent to join Whatcom Community College sports teams in the 2018-2019 academic year.
The signees include seven for women’s soccer, three for women’s basketball and four for men’s basketball. Twelve of the 14 commits attended Washington high schools, two athletes are coming from Alaska.
“We start internally and work outward,” said Chris Scrimsher, Whatcom Athletic Director. “[Whatcom County] is our first target area.”
According to Scrimsher, the recruiting process relies on the work of the Whatcom coaches who attend high school games and build relationships with local coaches and athletes.
“I was recruited by the [head coach] for soccer at the end of my senior year,” said Lyla Pagnotta a women’s soccer player at Whatcom. “[She] had been my coach for club soccer during my first couple years of high school so we knew each other pretty well.”
The Northwest Athletic Conference determines a geographical area where schools in the conference are able to actively recruit student athletes and offer scholarships.
According to Scrimsher, schools are not allowed to offer scholarship dollars to athletes from high schools outside of Washington, Oregon, Alaska, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Hawaii, Utah and Wyoming.
“We can offer up to 65% of tuition,” Scrimsher said. “Each coach has a discretion of how they want to split that up.”
According to Scrimsher, each sport is given an NWAC mandated number of monetary awards to give out. Each of the awards can be split between multiple athletes or given entirely to one.
Whatcom competes with all other NWAC schools when recruiting athletes. In addition to the monetary aspect, there are a variety of other factors athletes must consider when deciding what school to attend.
“I chose Whatcom because I was really impressed by their commitment to their players,” said women’s soccer signee Peyton Schwinger in a Whatcom press release.
Whatcom’s commitment to student athletes manifests itself in a variety of ways. According to Scrimsher, Whatcom is one of the premier community colleges in the NWAC because of it “state of the art” facilities and quality educators.
“The facilities at Whatcom are definitely better than any other school in the conference that we visited to play against,” Pagnotta said.
According to Pagnotta, the gym and turf field at Whatcom are unique, as most schools in the conference had muddy grass fields and old dark weight rooms.
“Whatcom sets the bar pretty high both athletically and educationally,” Schwinger said.
Schwinger will join a women’s soccer team that went 9-5-1 in conference and advanced to postseason play in 2017.
According to Scrimsher, Whatcom judges the success of the athletic programs by looking at individual athletes graduating and moving to the next level, as well as team records.
“If we’re successful and we place them at the next level, then that was a good decision for them to come to Whatcom,” said Scrimsher.
Whatcom had a number of athletes from the past year go on to continue their careers at universities, and sent men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball teams to postseason play.
“I would definitely recommend playing sports at Whatcom to a high school athlete because it gave me opportunities to meet lots of new friends and people and continue to play at a high level and get better,” Pagnotta said.