By Gini Davis – The Creswell Chronicle
Flanked by high school coaches Janelle Sailer (senior year) and Brandi Wittenborn (freshman, sophomore and junior years), Creswell High School senior Shea O’Connor signed her letter of intent to play Division 1 soccer at Oregon State University during a brief assembly held in the CHS gym on National Signing Day, Feb. 1.
The signing ceremony began with an introduction by Dave Nickelson, the CHS boys’ soccer coach and acting/interim athletic director.
“This young lady, through hard work, athletic talent and keeping her grades up, got noticed by a lot of people and now is being rewarded with the opportunity to continue her athletic and academic career with a scholarship to play for OSU,” Nickelson told the assembled students.
The longtime teacher also encouraged other students to pursue college scholarships based on their own talents – athletic or otherwise.
“I know Shea should not be the only one signing a letter of intent today,” Nickelson said. “If you have the desire, the talent, and have the grades and want to do it, go after your own future.”
A onetime college athlete himself, Nickelson said he was fortunate to have most of his own college tuition covered and noted that musical, artistic and academic talents can also pay off for students.
“If the doors of opportunity open, do not pass it up,” he told students.
O’Connor, the 18-year-old daughter of Jason O’Connor (and stepmom Kershia) and Michelle O’Connor, all of Creswell, says she has been playing soccer “since I was five or so, so about 13 years.”
In selecting her next-level soccer “home,” O’Connor said she talked with other schools and attended some ID camps, where athletes showcase their skills for college recruiters. But when she visited OSU, she knew she had found her niche.
“I kind of fell in love with the campus, the coaches; this was where I wanted to go to school,” O’Connor said.
At OSU, O’Connor plans to major in Kinesiology, with an eye toward a career in sports medicine, or as an athletic trainer or coach. On the field, playing for Head Coach Linus Rhode and his staff, she expects to play the outside or center forward position, as she has for the past four years at CHS.
What this talented, driven athlete says she is most looking forward to as she takes her game to the challenging D1 level is “just competing for my team, continuing my soccer career and hoping to maybe go further with it.”