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Kamiak's student-athletes sign letters of intent


Last updated 11/30/2022 at 2:58pm

David Pan

Nayella George, Bailey Gourdine, Cecelia Mejia and Payton Wotipka prepare to sign their letters of intent.

The Kamiak community celebrated the achievements of five senior student-athletes who are headed to college where they will continue their athletic careers.

Family, friends, teammates, teachers, and coaches joined Nayella George, Bailey Gourdine, Chance Loudenback, Cecelia Mejia, and Payton Wotipka as they signed their letters of intent during a ceremony Wednesday, Nov. 16, in the Career and College Readiness Center at Kamiak High School.

George will be playing volleyball at Western Washington University in Bellingham. Gourdine is headed to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro to continue her soccer career. Loudenback, a standout football and basketball player, will focus on rugby at U.S. Military Academy West Point in New York. Mejia signed to play soccer at Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon. Wotipka will continue her soccer career at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon.

"I chose to sign with this team due to the family-like program," George said. "Everyone was so extremely welcoming on my visit, and along with this, the competitive drive that all the girls had really made me want to join this team." George especially enjoyed traveling with her club team and becoming closer with her teammates within just a couple of months of knowing each other.

"To me playing sports at Kamiak taught me that there are so many opportunities to learn and grow as well as teach others," George added. "While being a freshman or sophomore on a varsity team you have a chance to learn from the upperclassmen and grow from that point on. Then after becoming an upperclassman, you are able to take what you know from past years, and later pass it on to the younger student-athletes. ... Being able to take a break from school and just have fun with not only your teammates but friends was always so fun."

George appreciated her family for all the support they've given her through the years.

"I would like to thank my parents for all the time, effort and money they have put into helping make me the player I am today, as well (as) my coaches and teammates who continued to have patience with me, especially freshman year, when I first started playing to help push, encourage, and teach me this game that I have grown to love."

Gourdine liked everything about the University of North Carolina at Greensboro when she visited the school.

"Experiencing the campus, and experiencing the entire education and athletic community, it became clear that UNCG is a great fit and where I belong," she said.

Through the years, sports helped build Gourdine's self-confidence. "I will remember the few but meaningful times I got to be on the field with my younger sister," she added. "I thank my parents for always being there for me through my journey, friends for always coming to support me, and most importantly my sister for being my ride or die."

Loudenback said he chose West Point for its education, leadership, and competition. He will be playing rugby.

"The memories I will take with me as a Kamiak student-athlete center around my teammates, coaches, and teachers. All have all taught me so much about leadership, dedication, and collaboration," Loudenback said. "A special thank you to coach DeGrazia, coach BT, and coach Mac for believing in me and always helping me improve in all aspects of my athletic career."

Mejia decided on Skagit Valley College because it will give her an opportunity to get a feel for what it is like to be a college student-athlete, while preparing her for her major – kinesiology. Mejia developed strong friendships with her teammates and enjoyed the adrenaline rush when she or one of her teammates scored.

"To me being a Kamiak student-athlete means being able to do something for my school that I enjoy and am really passionate about while also being able to receive a good education at the same time," Mejia said. "I will remember all of the laughs shared between one another and all of the pregame preparations that we all did to get ready, the tears shed from saying our last goodbyes, and basking in all of the glory after hard-fought wins against other teams. I want to thank my parents for driving me around, always supporting me, and making sure my motivation stayed high, and my coaches for setting me up for success to be able to obtain this opportunity."

Wotipka said Southern Oregon provided the family-like atmosphere she was looking for in a school.

"Not only was this the perfect school because of the people and coaches, but also because of the academics.," she said.

David Pan

Kamiak's Bailey Gourdine (soccer, Skagit Valley College), Nayella George (volleyball, Western Washington University), Payton Wotipka (soccer, Southern Oregon University), and Cecelia Mejia (soccer, University of North Carolina at Greensboro) signed letters of intent to continue their athletic careers in college during a ceremony Wednesday, Nov. 16, at Kamiak High School. Chance Loudenback (rugby, West Point) could not attend the event.

"Southern Oregon will set me up perfectly for my future (nursing), while I also get to play the sport that I love."

Wotipka enjoyed the team environment in sports.

"I enjoy having people around me that I can depend on and who can depend on me," she said. "In my opinion, being a student-athlete means that an athlete is not only focused on their sport, but also focused on their academics. Being a student-athlete means retaining a good balance in academics, sports and mental health."

Wotipka's parents provided invaluable support. "I want to thank my parents for all of the rides to practices and games, filled water bottles, Subway sandwiches and the hugs after not only wins, but also after hard losses. I also want to thank them for the role they have played in my mental game. They have always encouraged me to practice and work harder than I was, but they let me do it on my own terms," she said. "They gave me everything I needed to succeed and pushed me to work harder. I want to thank them for all the support and love that they showed me during my life. They have played the biggest role in shaping who I am not only as a player, but also as a young woman."


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