The college recruiting process can be daunting and anxiety-filled for high school athletes, but then again, most don’t have the benefit of a sibling to navigate the journey with at the same time.
Hockinson seniors and twin sisters Ellie and Kylie Ritter, both of whom have starred on the Hawks’ girls soccer and basketball teams during their prep careers, agreed the shared experience was valuable for each of them after they signed their letters of intent Wednesday during a signing day ceremony at the school to celebrate seven Hockinson athletes moving on to collegiate programs.
Ellie, who’s headed to Northwest Nazarene University to play women’s soccer, found the perfect fit on her very first visit last year to the Nampa, Idaho campus. She verbally committed in March 2021.
At that time, Kylie was in the early stages of her own search for the right school and women’s basketball program. She went on visits and talked to coaches throughout the summer, but was still waiting for a good fit.
She found it with George Fox University after connecting with the Newberg, Oregon school in early January. When the time came to commit last Friday, “there was no hesitation from me,” Kylie said.
“For Ellie committing in March, I was just beginning the whole process,” Kylie said, “so it was nice to kind of have someone there to help me through it, sending emails, sending highlight films, talking to coaches, balancing it all. It was really nice to have her there to help me. When George Fox came around, I was like, ‘Do I do it? Do I commit? I want to.’ And she’s like, ‘Yes, this is your school.’ It was nice to have that because she knows me better than anyone else.”
“It’s kind of sad because we’re not going to be together for four years, which is really hard.” Ellie said. “For me, I really wanted to make sure I found somewhere that was a really great fit and I also wanted to support Kylie in finding a good fit. We really gave each other a lot of advice throughout it. I’d ask her, ‘What do you think? Do you think NNU is a good fit for me?’ And then I went with her to George Fox on the night she committed and met the coaches, so it’s just cool … we defintely depended on each other a lot.”
Indeed, it will be a big change for the sisters who have played on many of the same teams dating back to early grade school in soccer, basketball and softball. Each gravitated to their primary sport — Ellie in soccer, Kylie in basketball — but also continued to play on the same teams for those sports at Hockinson and push each other along the way.
“We’ve been joking about it lately, I’m like, ‘What if I just tried to go play basketball (and) play against you?” Ellie said. “I think it would be really cool to be on the same team again, but this is just kind of our separate passions, which is cool.”
They’ve shared in a lot of success at Hockinson over the past few seasons, including the girls soccer program that finished second place at the Class 2A state championships in 2021 and 2019, as well as the spring ‘21 team that went undefeated en route to a district championship in the condensed season. Fellow teammates Grace Abbott (Adams State University) and Molly Romanchock (Lower Columbia College) are also moving on to play collegiate soccer.
Other signees celebrated at Wednesday’s ceremony were Hale Prior (Stetson University football), Kyla Muller (Rocky Mountain College volleyball) and Maggie Skinner (Clark College softball).
Then, there’s the Hockinson girls basketball team the Ritters are part of, which heads into the last week of the regular season in third place of the challenging 2A Greater St. Helens League.
“It’s been fun to get to play together, but the cool thing is we both had our real passion,” Kylie said. “(I’ve) been able to see how hard Ellie works with soccer and that kind of fuels me to be like, ‘OK, I need to get out there and work hard at basketball.’ So we kind of fuel each other’s success.”
When this winter basketball season concludes, it will likely be the last time the sisters share the same court or field; Kylie plans to play softball and Ellie will run track at Hockinson. The two said they aren’t thinking that far ahead yet, preferring to enjoy the moment they’re in now. But when they head off to college in two separate states, they’re already putting together a plan to stay connected.
“FaceTime a lot, keep each other updated on what’s going on,” Ellie said, “and I’m hoping during my winter break I can go catch a few of her games.”
BOZOVICH READY TO EARN STRIPES AT EWU
Korey Bozovich didn’t need dozens of college football offers to make his recruiting experience memorable. He just wanted one.
Bozovich is choosing to be a preferred walk-on to FCS Eastern Washington. He won’t be on scholarship initially, but he’s ready to bet on himself after EWU became the only program to extend Bozovich an opportunity to continue playing football past high school.
“I know what I’m capable of doing,” said Bozovich, a wide receiver. “I know coming in having a chip on my shoulder as a (preferred walk-on) versus a guy on scholarship, we both have to work the same amount. I know I have to earn my stripes like I did (at Union). I know what it feels like to work hard and earn it.”
Bozovich was one of 11 Union students honored Wednesday during the school’s signing-day ceremony inside the auditorium.
At Union, Bozovich became a full-time starter on offense this past fall after patiently waiting — and working toward — to earn those stripes.
And the past few weeks have been a rollercoaster of uncertainty, too, which made Wednesday’s ceremony even more special. In December, when former EWU assistant coach Pat McCann left for Fresno State, Bozovich said he thought his connection to the program was closed and pondered what opportunity, if any, was next. But the Eagles still had Bozovich on their radar, and extended an invitation for an on-campus visit in January.
Bozovich didn’t need long to make his commitment — one he’s grateful for.
“It still doesn’t feel real to think I’ll be going to play (FCS) Division I football,” he said.
Maya Parman, soccer, Seattle Pacific
Lily Loughney, soccer, San Francisco
Emerson Grafton, soccer, Idaho State
Jairus Phillips, football, Central Washington
Chance Naugle, football, Southern Oregon
Payton Allen, basketball, Dominican (Ill.) University
Sam Boyle, baseball, Washington
Alex Brown, soccer, Seattle Pacific
Sydney Johnson, soccer, Southern Oregon
Grace Twiss, track and field, Central Washington
Jordan Baum, football, Hudson Valley Community College
Nikki Scott, baseball, St. Martin’s
MaKenzie Misner, softball, Columbia Basin
Hale Prior, football Stetson University
Grace Abbott, soccer, Adams State University
Molly Romanchock, soccer, Lower Columbia College
Maggie Skinner, softball, Clark College
Ellie Ritter, soccer, Northwest Nazarene University
Kylie Ritter, basketball, George Fox University
Kyla Muller, volleyball, Rocky Mountain College
Natalie Fraley, basketball, Utah State
Amie Russell, volleyball, Lower Columbia College
Casen Reed, baseball, Linfield
CJ Hamblin, wrestling, Oregon State
Ellie White, soccer, Colorado Mesa
Gavin James-Dues, football, University of Rochester
Mary Fogg, softball, Quinnipiac
Kara Mattson, track and field, University of Montana
Reece Walling, baseball, Washington State
Jakob Braunstein, track and field, Minot State
Morgan Harter, volleyball, Northwest University
Matt Kinswa, football, Pacific Lutheran
Emily Vossenkuhl, volleyball, Western Washington
Eric Albios, baseball, Linfield
Tanner Beaman, football, Portland State
Tyler Howard, baseball, University of Portland
Colton Looney, basketball, Whitworth
Gabe Martin, football, Montana Tech
Kyle Memarian, baseball, Everett College
Paige Miller, soccer, Lower Columbia College
Hezephaniah Po Ching, football, Valley City State University
Tyra Schaub, volleyball, Gonzaga
Bailee Boltz, softball, William Penn University
Ashley Griffith, softball, Trinity International University
Jacob Miklas, soccer, Colorado School of Mines and Technology
Olivia Euverman, soccer, Southern Oregon
Jordan Conrad, soccer, Montana State Billings
Kendall Clark, beach volleyball, University of Oregon
Bryson Metz, basketball, University of Vanguard
Ariel Ammentorp, track and field, University of Nebraska
Tobias Merriweather, football, University of Notre Dame
Korey Bozovich, football, Eastern Washington University
Alexander Fisch, football, University of Puget Sound
Dylan Dalgord, wrestling, University of Central Missouri
Jaiden Bea, basketball, Idaho
Savea Mansfield, basketball, South Dakota School of Mines
Joran Lamoreaux, cross country, North Dakota School of the Mines
Aidan Rivers, cross country, North Dakota School of the Mines
Leanna Russell, softball, Lower Columbia College
Daymon Gressett, football, Pacific Lutheran