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Signing Day: Hockinson sisters Ellie, Kylie Ritter support each other as they forge separate paths

Hawks celebrate seven athletes signing with collegiate programs

By , Columbian staff writer, and
, Columbian staff writer
Published:
7 Photos
Hockinson senior Ellie Ritter, left, speaks to the crowd at the school?s signing day, while twin sister Kylie Ritter, right, looks on Wednesday at Hockinson High School. Ellie will attend Northwest Nazarene University to play soccer and Kylie is headed to George Fox University to play basketball.
Hockinson senior Ellie Ritter, left, speaks to the crowd at the school?s signing day, while twin sister Kylie Ritter, right, looks on Wednesday at Hockinson High School. Ellie will attend Northwest Nazarene University to play soccer and Kylie is headed to George Fox University to play basketball. (Will Denner/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

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.

Camas

Maya Parman, soccer, Seattle Pacific

Lily Loughney, soccer, San Francisco

Emerson Grafton, soccer, Idaho State

Jairus Phillips, football, Central Washington

Castle Rock

Chance Naugle, football, Southern Oregon

Central Catholic

Payton Allen, basketball, Dominican (Ill.) University

Columbia River

Sam Boyle, baseball, Washington

Alex Brown, soccer, Seattle Pacific

Sydney Johnson, soccer, Southern Oregon

Evergreen

Grace Twiss, track and field, Central Washington

Jordan Baum, football, Hudson Valley Community College

Heritage

Nikki Scott, baseball, St. Martin’s

MaKenzie Misner, softball, Columbia Basin

Hockinson

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

Kelso

Natalie Fraley, basketball, Utah State

La Center

Amie Russell, volleyball, Lower Columbia College

Mountain View

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

Prairie

Kara Mattson, track and field, University of Montana

Reece Walling, baseball, Washington State

Ridgefield

Jakob Braunstein, track and field, Minot State

Morgan Harter, volleyball, Northwest University

Matt Kinswa, football, Pacific Lutheran

Emily Vossenkuhl, volleyball, Western Washington

Skyview

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

Union

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

Washougal

Jaiden Bea, basketball, Idaho

Savea Mansfield, basketball, South Dakota School of Mines

Woodland

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

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