Signing Day: Skyview duo among local athletes set to sign college letter of intent

Skyview duo among local athletes set to sign college letter of intent

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter


photoSkyview High School senior Aubrey Ward-El.
photoSkyview High School senior Jocelyn Adams

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The Columbian will list names of all athletes who sign to compete in college athletics at four-year schools. High school coaches and athletic directors are encouraged to e-mail us at for any updates regarding your athletes.

Emily Dobbin of Skyview softball is expected to sign with Kent State. Nicole O’Haver of Prairie softball expects to sign with the University of Mary, a Division II program in North Dakota.

Swimmer Monica Bottelberghe of Columbia River is expected to sign with Boise State this week.

Football players, such as Camas’ Reilly Hennessey (Eastern Washington) and Drew Clarkson (Oregon State), and cross country athletes such as Prairie’s Nicole Goecke (Oregon State) must wait until February to sign.

— Paul Valencia

The plan is for Jocelyn Adams and Aubrey Ward-El to be seated next to each other at the table, 7 a.m. sharp Wednesday at Skyview High School.

It might be real early in the day, but they just do not want to wait any longer.

After all, this plan started taking shape when they were in elementary school.

Now seniors in high school, Adams and Ward-El are a day away Signing Day.

The National Letter of Intent early signing period for basketball players, as well as many other sports, is Wednesday. Adams will be taking her tall frame to Weber State in Ogden, Utah. Ward-El, a guard, is heading to the sun at the University of San Diego.

That is after they play one more season together as teammates at Skyview.

"Oh my gosh. I'm so excited," Adams said of this week, and the next few months. "We've been dreaming about this since we were little, playing third-grade basketball together. It's cool to see it finally happen."

"It's special," Ward-El said. "We've been so close."

Adams, Ward-El and senior Stephanie McDonagh were instrumental in Skyview's state championship when they were sophomores. McDonagh hit the game-winning 3-pointer in the quarterfinals. Adams became a force on the inside during that playoff run. And Ward-El beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer to win the championship game.

Adams suffered a torn ACL in her right knee in the summer prior to her junior year and did not play last year. The Storm finished a game away from advancing to the round of 16.

"Sitting out was really hard," Adams said. "I knew I had to work hard to get back, but I also knew I needed recovery time."

Now, it's time for the Storm to get back to work, together.

(McDonagh, by the way, has not decided on a college yet, but is expected to play college basketball, too. "I know she is going to go somewhere she belongs," Ward-El said.)

With so much talent on the floor for one more year, the Storm understand the expectations.

"The biggest goal is to win state again," Ward-El said. "We want to go out on a win. We know what it takes. It's a long process."

At the same time, they are not in a win-or-bust frame of mind.

Ward-El said last season was tough. As the defending champions, the Storm were always a target for opponents. That was pressure. She said she does not feel the same thing going into her senior season.

Adams has missed playing, but also missed the team chemistry.

"As long as we're doing our best and we're getting close as a team, that's really what counts for me," Adams said.

Adams said her knee is getting stronger every day. It was strong enough for her to play volleyball for the Storm this fall. As far as basketball, she has participated in open gyms. Practice starts next week.

"It's great to know she's out here," Ward-El said, referring to seeing Adams at open gym. "It was fun, but it was nerve-racking, too. I don't want her to hurt herself. But she doesn't want people taking it easy on her."

The two do not have to be nervous about college choices anymore.

The University of San Diego was the first college program to make contact with Ward-El. It was only a brochure for a camp, but it had value to Ward-El, who was a freshman at the time.

"It was something that stuck with me. They were the first ones who ever had interest in me," Ward-El said. "They were the school that stayed the most consistent with me. They kept in touch. They weren't dropping in and out. They always remembered who I was."

Ward-El visited the campus and met with the players in September. One of the players is former Prairie standout Cori Woodward, now a freshman.

"I'm really thankful I know someone there," Ward-El said. "I've looked up to her since I've played against her. I've always admired how she plays."

Weber State made contact with Adams this summer. Adams said she felt an instant "family connection" to the coaches, players and campus.

"I didn't know if I'd like a big-city kind of atmosphere. It's more of a small-town kind of place," Adams said. "The whole town is super supportive of the team."

Adams told Weber State coaches of her decision a couple of weeks ago.

On Wednesday, she and other college-bound athletes can make it official.

"It's such a stress reliever," Adams said of having it out of the way before her senior season. "I'm so excited about just playing basketball."