Ten South Whidbey grads to compete at collegiate level

Former South Whidbey girls soccer player Kendra Warwick practices agility drills at the Parks and Recreation soccer fields. Warwick will compete for Whatcom Community College starting Aug. 10.

While one journey has just ended for South Whidbey High School’s graduating seniors, another is just beginning for a select few.

Ten former Falcons will continue their athletic careers at the collegiate level, with some of the athletes beginning their new journeys starting in early August.

Competing at the next level are girls soccer players Kendra Warwick (Whatcom Community College) and Leah Rostov (Whatcom Community College), track and field runner Allie Vanbenschoten (Pacific Lutheran University), baseball players Ricky Muzzy (Lower Columbia Community College) and Charlie Patterson (Lane Community College), volleyball player Katherine Read (North Park University) and Marina Alber (Lower Columbia Community College), boys basketball player Chase White (Quakerdale Prepatory School) boys soccer player Lucas Lieberman (Whatcom Community College) and cross country girls runner Mallorie Mitchem (Case Western Reserve University).

Warwick is looking forward to seeing where she fits in at Whatcom as a midfielder when she starts practicing Aug. 10.

“I think I’m trying to prove to myself that I can do it and play in college, because I’ve always wanted to,” Warwick said.

She plans to stay at Whatcom for two years before transferring to a four-year university such as the University of Washington or Montana University to study environmental science. Whether she continues pursuing soccer at that point is up in the air, she said. One thing is for certain — she’s eager for the opportunity.

“This is kind of a starting point, so I don’t know if I’m going to play soccer after this,” Warwick. “I’m just excited to play this next year.”

Her workouts have included weight training in the gym, as well as agility drills. She caught the eye of Whatcom head coach Mary Schroeder while playing for a premier team in Bothell.

“I was really nervous that I wouldn’t stand out,” Warwick said. “I didn’t know who she was in the crowd, so that kind of helped. But then she was like, ‘You’re a great player’ and all this stuff, and that really helped me.”

Lieberman, a first-team All-Cascade Conference midfielder for the Falcons in his senior year, hopes Whatcom will serve as a stepping stone for a larger goal of playing soccer at a four-year university. He said that Western Washington University, located right next door to Whatcom, would be an ideal landing spot. His sights are currently set on preparing for his first practice Aug. 1.

“I don’t know what to expect,” Lieberman said. “I’m nervous but excited. I’ve been trying to train as best I can to get prepared for it.”

Lieberman is currently following a workout and diet regimen provided by his coaches at Whatcom, which includes plyometrics, agility drills and endurance runs.

Lieberman said his strong suits are his coachability, field awareness and movement off the ball, which he will use to his advantage when competing for what will likely be a highly-contested position at center midfielder. He’s identified his weaknesses — burst speed and quick shots on goal — as well, and has been working to address them during workouts at the South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District soccer fields.

Lieberman does not have a major picked out yet, though he is leaning toward physical therapy or sports management.

“I have to go up August 1 to play soccer in two weeks — it was a lot quicker than I thought going into this,” Lieberman said. “You have to sacrifice a lot of things you like to do.”

“If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. I’m going to give it my all,” he added.

Like Lieberman, Read is in a twilight zone between nervousness and excitement. She’ll compete for a role on the team as a setter at Division III North Park University in Chicago, Ill. A first-team All-Conference setter in her final season with the Falcons, Read is looking forward to adjusting to college life while becoming acquainted with her teammates when she heads to preseason practice in mid-August.

“My ultimate goal was to play volleyball, but I thought it could never happen,” Read said. “It’s a big weight off my shoulders.”

Read had a chance to watch her future teammates in action during a spring visit. Though their talent was obvious, she said, watching the practice erased any doubt that Read was inferior.

“They’re really good and consistent, but nothing that I don’t think I could reach as an individual,” Read said.

Her grind as a college athlete will start with what her teammates have dubbed “hell week,” a two-week preseason training camp designed to ready the team for the long season. She said that once the school year begins, it will be helpful being with teammates who are also balancing sports and academics. Read plans to study advertising and communications, with a minor in business.

On the court, she hopes to improve her footwork and accuracy with her sets.

“I’m just hoping not to bench throughout the season,” Read said. “Even if I don’t get enough playing time, I just want to know I advanced through my sets throughout the season and be confident.”