An opportunity of a lifetime for an athlete

With the school year coming to an end, eight more names written on pen and paper make the collegiate experience a reality


Graphic by Melanie Delestrez

Congratulations. LSHS will sign senior student athletes to seven different colleges around the country and here in WA. Seniors and families decorated tables with school colors, images and logos of their college, while wearing clothing that represented where they’ll head to in the fall. “The coach I’ll be playing for is fantastic and I couldn’t be more excited,” Wells said.

National Signing Day for committed college athletes was Feb. 1, 2022, or as we work our way into the summer months, verbally committed athletes still have the ability to sign.

Athletes are faced with many challenges during this process, and many go into this unaware of certain aspects that they realized would’ve helped them at the beginning. Whether it’s learning that beginning the process of recruitment at a young age makes the experience less stressful, creating highlight videos that showcase your talents, or playing for select organizations during the off season.

Recurring challenges for most athletes going through the process include emotional overloads with the stress of making a decision that impacts their future, having to reach out to a coach and waiting for a response that they may never receive, and whether or not this is the right path for them.

“The emotions were tough, it was a rollercoaster. I thought one night I knew where I was going and by morning, my mind would be changed. There were coaches and schools that I fell in love with, and there were others that had to work for it. Knowing how to say no to schools and coaches that I visited, who put time and money into me was something that would’ve helped me at the beginning,” senior Dillon Wells said.

There is no set time limit on when to begin the recruitment journey, some athletes looking to play college find themselves starting in their freshman year of high school, while others have been in the process since they were a child first learning how to play.

“I wish I would have started the recruitment process earlier than I did, but it all worked out in the end,” senior Kyleigh Lynn said.

Senior Shelby Farler, also felt that starting the recruitment process a lot earlier than she did would’ve been helpful to her journey as well.

Recruiting is a stressful and long process, and athletes need people to rely on who stick with them, whether it’s inside or outside their family circle. A good support system helps provide a clearer perspective on which college truly meets the needs of an individual, not a system of people that tell you where they need to go or have a biased mindset towards certain schools dn programs.

Helpful tips for any athlete beginning their journey in recruitment and need a push in the right direction. (Graphic designed by Melanie Delestrez)

“My biggest supporters were my mom Sara, dad Scott, stepdad Joel, stepmom Misty, sister Hannah, and my two brothers, Hunter and Carson. I also had my best friends, Will and Cade supporting as well,” Wells said.

With college athletics, it is important to find the right fit for academics and the right connection to the athletic department, coaches, and teammates. Athletes have different needs and wants when it comes to their perfect fit for a team, and that’s a deciding factor for many kids looking to make it to the collegiate level.

“I thought about how good their team was, I wanted to compete for a team that was super competitive, and I can achieve that there. I got to meet the coaches when I went to visit the school in February, as well as some of my future teammates. They’re all really nice people,” Farler said.

Lake Stevens High School has produced many collegiate athletes who have gone on to compete at the NCAA (National College Athletics Association), NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics), or NJCAA (National Junior College Athletics Association) levels. Most recently, this includes LSHS alumnus Taylor Roe, a NCAA D1 runner at Oklahoma State University and the 2022 NCAA D1 national champion in Women’s indoor 3,000 meters.

On May 25, 2022, LSHS will sign more seniors who have the opportunity to participate in college sports, ranging from boys tennis, girls XC, girls track, girls softball, boys baseball, and both boys and girls basketball.

Emily Cardenas, a senior on the girls softball team, will be signing to Wisconsin Lutheran College, a NCAA D3 school located in Milwaukee, WI. Cardenas may seem quiet in the classroom, but on the field, or in the dugout, she’s one of the loudest and energetic girls on the team. With a great ability to support and encourage her teammates to keep their head in the game, she’s taking her great skills to the collegiate level, and will be majoring in pre-nursing.

Wells plays on the boys tennis team, and will continue to play tennis at Pacific Lutheran University (PLU), a NCAA D3 college. PLU is located in the Tacoma area of Washington State.

“Some of the factors that led me to PLU was the fact that I can stay close to home, see my family and friends,” Wells said.

Once Wells figured out where he was choosing to go, the process became easier, and the excitement to play for his future coach is off the charts, but before he steps foot onto the college court, he’s working on getting his mental game in check.

“By raising my mental capacity, it allows me to take my physical game to the next level. I have goals that I want to reach in college, like winning conference player of the week, or at least win[ning] singles or doubles against each team we face. Focusing on my mental capacity now will get me there,” Wells said.

Sam Gardner, a senior on the boys basketball team, is heading to Skagit Valley College located in Mount Vernon, WA. Gardner, a 6’1” guard, is a lock down shooter who can hit from deep, a great defender, and an even better facilitator when it comes to playing point guard. He helped bring the boys basketball team a chance to a district playoff run, unfortunately they fell short to Bothell in round one ending the season. However, Gardner will continue his great abilities on the basketball court and in the classroom during the fall for SVCC. 

Kyliegh Lynn, a senior also on the girls softball team, will continue her academics and athletics at Skagit Valley College located in Mount Vernon, WA. Lynn was nominated for the May 2-8 Athlete of the Week by the Everett Herald. She tossed a two-hit shutout, and knocked a home run, as LSHS girls softball dominated a previously undefeated Jackson team, 7-0.

“I wanted to stay either close to home or stay on the West Coast, that was my deciding factor,” Lynn said.

Lynn will study veterinary medicine at SVCC and will continue to focus on one goal she hopes to achieve: becoming one of the best players people know.

Lynn, her mom and dad represent girls softball and SVCC Cardinals. (Melanie Delestrez)

Kye Taylor, a senior on the boy basketball team, will attend Friends University in Kansas, a NAIA school in Wichita, KS. Taylor is a versatile player, with long arms to block shots, grab rebounds, and he can make a move off a dribble as well as post up. As a senior, Taylor started on the team and helped bring them a chance at a playoff run, and although the season was cut short, he will continue to improve and help his new team at Friends University.

Taylor and his mom represent boys basketball and Friends University Cardinals. (Melanie Delestrez)

Farler, a senior on both the girls XC and track team, chose College of Idaho, an NAIA school located in Caldwell, ID, to continue her athletic and academic career. Farler will compete in XC during the fall season, as well as indoor/outdoor track during the spring.

Creating goals is another huge part of any athlete’s mindset, whether it’s on a mental or physical level. These goals for college can start before stepping onto campus for the first time. For some, they may develop these goals when they’re young children.

“I wanted to PR this season in Cross Country and Track. I’ve already accomplished Cross Country but not Track yet. I want to break the 20 minute mark at college in the 5k, but there might be different lengths, so I’m not completely sure. But I also know I want to have a 4.0 GPA when I graduate college,” Farler said.

As track is coming to an end, Farler will get ready to finish the season and focus on preparing for the upcoming Cross Country season for College of Idaho.

Hayden McDonald, a senior on the boys baseball team, will be attending Cuesta College-San Luis Obispo, in the California Community College Athletic Association ( CCCAA) conference for baseball, and academics as a major in communications. McDonald is active in and around the community of LSHS, whether it was ASB senator, super-fanning at football games or other sporting events, and of course participating in the baseball program. Being a leader, and one with the community, McDonald will make a major impact on the field and on campus.

On a personal note, after taking a visit to Crown College, a NCAA D3 school located in Saint Bonifacius, MN, I will also be participating along with my fellow seven seniors on our signing day to continue academics and women’s basketball.

Delestrez, her mom, dad, and brother, represent girls basketball and Crown College Polars. (Emma Saylor)

With graduation in four weeks, and a new chapter beginning in our lives, the community of Lake Stevens and LSHS wish you the best of luck and can’t wait to see you all compete at the collegiate level.