The entire student body of Sierra Lutheran High School gathered in its gymnasium Wednesday afternoon to recognize a momentous occasion.
While student-athletes across Northern Nevada and the rest of the country penned national letters of intent Wednesday, Sierra Lutheran was able to celebrate a number of firsts.
Becky Grabow (Pacific; cross country and track & field) and Tiffany Patrick (Concordia, Nebraska; volleyball) became the first female athletes at the school to sign letters of intent with four-year schools. Grabow became the school's first athlete to ever receive a Division I scholarship.
Combined, the duo also made up the largest signing class in school history (Wade Meddles signed with Azusa Pacific two years ago to become the Falcons' first-ever athlete to advance to the intercollegiate level.
"I am excited with what God has blessed me with," Grabow said. "I want to give him all the glory for what is to come."
Patrick echoed the same sentiments.
"This sort of opportunity doesn't happen very often," Patrick said. "It's such an honor to continue playing volleyball after high school, particularly at a Christian school."
Grabow is the two-time defending 2A state champion in girls' cross country and the two-time defending 1A champion in both the 1,600 and 3,200 in track & field.
She'll compete for the Pacific in both sports. The Tigers compete in the Big West Conference.
"I really, really like the coach," Grabow told the gathering of students. "The girls are sweet and fun to hang out with.
"Pacific also has a really good special education program, and that is the field I want to get into."
Patrick, the 2011 1A Western League MVP, led the Falcons to a 12-2 league finish last season, helping the team to it's first-ever state tournament berth.
"I toured several schools and I just loved the environment of Concordia the best," she said. "I liked the coach and the players."
Coaches of both players noted their work ethic over the years.
"When Becky started running with us, there was no guarantee there'd ever be a college scholarship," Sierra Lutheran coach Dave Marson said, advising the Sierra Lutheran students that there are plenty of places to continue an athletic career. "There are a lot of small schools out there where you can continue to play and that will offer you scholarships. Keep that in mind, because it is something that can help you and your parents out down the road."
Danny McLaughlin, Patrick's coach at the Silver State Volleyball Club, admired Patrick's commitment to the sport.
"She's one of those people that plays sports for the right reasons," he said. "She plays because she loves it, and she becomes a better player because of that.
"She has a lot of heart and enthusiasm and that will carry her far."
The Falcons expect another student to sign in the coming months, standout cross country runner Nathanael Williams. Williams has a number of scholarship offers on the table, but he is still narrowing down to his final choice.
DOUGLAS KEEPER SIGNS WITH REGIS
Douglas High's Bri Randall signed a national letter of intent to play soccer for the Regis University Rangers, who compete in the NCAA Division II Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
"I fell in love with it when I went," Randall said. "The campus was so pretty and nice. The coach knows so much about soccer and it was just a great fit for me. It's right outside of downtown Denver, you can go out and the Rockies are right there. And the team plays great soccer."
Indeed. The Rangers ranked as high as No. 16 in the country last year and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Randall, the three-time reigning Sierra League Goalkeeper of the Year and state's all-time leader in career shutouts (31), becomes the third keeper on the Rangers roster behind a senior and a junior.
"Bri provides competition and depth to our strong goalkeeping corps," Belzer said. "Her Nevada state record for shutouts gives her confidence to compete for minutes her freshman year."
Another Douglas soccer senior, Katie Dry, is expected to sign with Division I Wake Forest next week.