Writer Tom Scanlon

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he play’s the thing, Hamlet told us, to catch the conscience of a king. Here at Boulder Creek High School, to play’s the thing — to catch a scholarship. Playing various sports during high school can literally pay off.

So it was that on a chilly morning, with dawn cracking on the last day of November and the halfway point of the school year in sight, that BC staff honored six senior student-athletes who have accepted college scholarships. At a casual breakfast celebration, there were doughnuts, there was fruit, there were certificates of recognition, and there were kind words and big hopes.

Coaches shared mini portraits of what has made these half-dozen student-athletes special, with hints at what is still to come.

Patrick Ross wore a McKendree University sweatshirt; next year, he will be playing volleyball there, 30 miles from St. Louis. Tall and slender, Ross is a baby-faced killer.

This spring, the BC boys’ volleyball team had perhaps the best season of any team in BC’s history. The Jaguars netmen powered to a 45-2 record and their second state championship in three years. As a junior last year on a senior-loaded starting lineup — four of the 2016 team are now playing in college — Ross led the team in kill shots. He was also third on the team in blocks and fourth in digging.

One of Ross’ coaches, Taylor Stallman, notes his versatility and team spirit.

“We threw him into a ton of positions, and no matter where we put him he’s always had a great attitude,” he says. The coach adds that college scholarships for boys’ volleyball players are relatively rare. Before going on to college, Ross will be one of the most experienced seniors on a team that will defend its state championship in the spring season.

Hunter Raum, the only female athlete at this scholarship celebration, was wearing a University of Wisconsin shirt. She will be on that school’s softball team this time next year.

“Wisconsin was Hunter’s dream school,” says her coach, Jeremy Lord. Though she was injured last season, he notes she was like a coach. Now that Raum is healthy, she hopes to lead her team deep into the spring playoffs.

Another team with high hopes for the spring is the baseball team, which will have at least four (and probably a few more, says coach Joe McDonald) players moving on to the college level.
Coby Boulware will play baseball at Texas Christian University, as his sweatshirt hinted.

“He has been starting since he was a sophomore,” his coach notes. “He’s part of the best infield in the state, and one of the best in the country.”

Though smallish in height, Boulware carries a big bat and is a spark plug leadoff batter.

“He is a young man who plays with a lot of passion and high character,” says McDonald. “His intangibles are something that a coach dreams of in a player.”

Boulware’s teammate, Daniel Carrizosa, will play ball at California State University, Bakersfield. He didn’t stand when acknowledged — but not rudely, he was on crutches having just had knee surgery. It’s typical that he wouldn’t let a recent knee surgery (from an injury during the football season) stop him from being there, his baseball coach notes.

“Daniel has been starting since his freshman year and is a very athletic and versatile player,” McDonald says. “He had a great junior year on the mound, as well as playing all over the infield while hitting in the heart of our batting order. Daniel is a great team player who is very determined to achieve his goals. He is a special young man.”

Zachary Baptist, a third member of McDonald’s powerhouse infield, will play baseball at Glendale Community College. McDonald says Baptist has Division I talent. He called this four-year starter a foundational piece to the program.

“Other coaches refer to him as a game changer, and I would agree,” he says. “He impacts every game both offensively and defensively, and has made some of the most amazing defensive plays in school history. Zach gets everything out of himself and is determined to go after his dreams.”

McDonald’s teams typically knock the ball all over the park. This season, he has one of his best pitchers ever, Mason Millett, who was wearing shorts and a Gonzaga University sweatshirt. This time next year, he probably won’t be wearing shorts while attending the Washington state campus.

“Mason is our dude, our No. 1 pitcher,” McDonald says. The star pitcher was injured for most of last year, but was able to contribute at the end of the year, showing why he is such a talent. In three games, he pitched nine innings, giving up just one earned run and striking out nine.

“Mason is a dominant force on the mound and has been helping our varsity since his sophomore year,” the coach says. “He is a very bright and talented young man who competes like no other when the ball is in his hands. He will be our go-to guy this year and has what it takes to beat any high school team in the country.”

Thinking about his group of last-year players, McDonald can hardly wait for the season to begin.

“These four young men are part of a special graduating class that continues the tradition of the Boulder Creek baseball family,” he says. “They are very special to me and I will cherish every day I get to coach them this year.” In 10 years, McDonald has seen 33 BC grads go on to play college ball.

Jay Kopas, the athletic director, acknowledged the student-athletes, their coaches and supportive parents (several were in attendance).

“This is a very special occasion,” says Lauren Sheahan, the school principal, grinning with pride. “It’s been fun for you to play here, and even more fun for us to watch you.”

She had two words of advice for these bright young athletes, for their senior years and beyond: “Play on.”