By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A bundle of energy as a toddler, Katie Woodrum found her footing in soccer, excelling and earning a scholarship to the University of San Francisco.
Montgomery High’s midfield anchor and All-Empire standout Wednesday signed her national letter of intent to play for the Dons.
“I always wanted to play college. I never dreamed the way everything worked out perfectly,” she said.
More than two dozen Empire athletes, from high schools and junior colleges, formally committed to playing sports at four-year colleges in the fall. Most signed Wednesday with others deciding during early periods.
Woodrum, the North Bay League offensive most valuable player, joins a long line of Empire prep soccer greats who have moved on to play major college soccer.
The journey began as a 4-year-old in the Rincon Valley Youth Soccer Club’s recreation leagues, continuing through more competitive levels. For the past seven seasons, Woodrum rose through the Santa Rosa United club team ranks.
“I had a lot of energy as a kid and my mom wanted to get it out of me. It worked out very well,” Woodrum said.
A three-year Montgomery starter, Woodrum helped lead the Vikings to the North Coast Section championship contest the past two seasons.
Playing club soccer tournaments and showcases put Woodrum on the college recruiting radar. The beginning of her junior year Woodrum verbally committed to UC Santa Barbara, after also visiting Loyola Marymount and San Diego State.
Then she received a full scholarship offer from USF. The chance to play in a great city closer to home for a university with a top nursing program was too good to pass up.
“It definitely was a sticky situation,” Woodrum said. “My heart was really with Santa Barbara. But I told them about the offer that came up and how everything was falling together.”
Later she learned longtime club soccer teammate Ali Schaffer, from Maria Carrillo, also was headed to USF.
“It turned out where I get to room with my best friend,” Woodrum said.
Another draw was playing for USF coach Jim Millinder. Now in his second year leading the Dons, Millinder was the USC women’s coach for more than a decade including eight appearances in the NCAA tournament. One of his top players was Stacey Strong, a Montgomery and Empire great.
“He’s definitely trying to rebuild the USF program,” Woodrum said. “I definitely want to win USF conference championships and get into the NCAA tournament.”
USF is a member of the West Coast Conference. The Dons play a typically tough NCAA Division I schedule.
Looking to continue playing midfield, Woodrum aims to make the starting lineup.
Skilled at both scoring and setting up teammates, Woodrum recognizes she must be quicker and stronger to play the college game.
“I’m going to work very hard so that I’m ready when I get there,” she said.
Training now with Santa Rosa United coaches, Woodrum and the club’s other college-bound players will combine work on the field with conditioning in the weight room through summer.
When the USF training starts in August, Woodrum said she must pass speed, strength, endurance and other benchmarks or face extra training.
Yet she can’t wait for that opportunity — 5 months and 25 days away.
“I’m very excited to help the program and we’ll see how far we can get,” she said.
Brett Bowers, Mendocino College/Ukiah, New Mexico
Matt Campbell, Mendocino College/Willits, Notre Dame College (OH)
Aaron Dhuyvetter, Mendocino College/Ukiah, Humboldt State
Garrett Guanella, SRJC/Cardinal Newman, San Jose State
Kyle Harmyk, Mendocino College/Middletown, Alabama A&M
Aaron Maher, Analy, Sacramento State
Elijah Qualls, Casa Grande, Washington
Nolan Sheahan, Cardinal Newman, Air Force
Mitch Sheppard, St. Vincent, Azusa Pacific
Phil Wright, Cardinal Newman, Arizona
Sarah Marie Andersen, Santa Rosa, Chico State
Taylor Enzler, Cardinal Newman, SSU
Victoria Kovatch, Maria Carrillo, Azusa Pacific
Paige McMahon, Montgomery, Humboldt State
Mariah Meuse, Rancho Cotate, Belmont Abbey College
Madison Minton, Maria Carillo, SSU
Katie Mohr, Maria Carrillo, Arizona State
Kareli Rodriguez, SRJC/Montgomery, San Jose State
Audrey Romano, Cardinal Newman, UC Davis
Kristen Sampietro, Maria Carrillo, UC San Diego
Ali Schaffer, Maria Carrillo, University of San Francisco
Emily Welter, Casa Grande, Cal State Stanislaus
Katie Woodrum, Montgomery, University of San Francisco
Colette Zepponi, Analy, UC San Diego
Randell Black, Pivot Charter School, UC Berkeley
James Del Curto, Cardinal Newman, Sacramento State
Frankie Palmer, Windsor, Chico State
James Pierpoint, Maria Carrillo, UC San Diego
TRACK AND FIELD
Laurel Shepperd, Maria Carrillo, UC Santa Barbara
Ely Anderson, SRJC/Montgomery, Old Dominion
Jordan Bergstrom, SRJC/Clackamas, Ore., New Mexico State
Chris Smith, SRJC/Santa Rosa, Old Dominion
Hannah Andrews, Rincon Valley Christian, Concordia
Ashley Harris, Casa Grande, Arizona
Calan Seitz, Maria Carrillo, SSU
Rene Taniguchi, Analy, SSU