(BRANDON HANSEN/Chewelah Independent)
COLLEGE-BOUND: Chewelah’s Kennedy Robison and Madison Koler will be playing NWAC softball…
Chewelah softball as a program is pumping out the recruits! Not only did they become a regular sight at the State 1A Tournament, but players are starting to find themselves on college rosters more and more.
For Madison Koler and Kennedy Robison, the two are taking their talents to the NWAC League after being a force for the Cougars during their high school careers.
Robison, the team’s first baseman, is heading to nearby SFCC (or the Community Colleges of Spokane as their athletic programs are known) after an early offer by the coaching staff stuck with her during her junior year.
“A few girls that I know are going to and have gone to SFCC and really liked it,” Robison said. “They had a good experience and they have a competitive program that was close to home.”
Competitive could be used to describe the Chewelah softball program which has taken fifth place the past two years in the state tournament. Now, after dropping down the 2Bs, the girls have their sights set on Yakima when state tournament time comes around.
“It has been an awesome experience and it makes me proud to be a part of such a great team and even better group of girls.” Robison said. “We have shared so many exciting moments that I will never forget.”
One of those exciting moments? Beating the No. 1-ranked team in Washington at the state tournament last year.
“Beating Montesano in State was like being in a dream. We gave absolutely everything we had to win,” Robison said. “Even though it was the first game of the morning, the crowds were swarming in like it was the championship game of State. It is a memory I will always cherish and never forget.”
Robison said she had the desire to play at the next level when she was eight-years-old and softball was her passion.
“If I could I would play it year round,” Robison said.
After a particularly good game against Lakeside, Robison was approached by Community Colleges of Spokane (Both SCC and SFCC have a joint athletic program) coach Fuzzy Buckenberg, who asked her to call him after the season to discuss what the college could offer her.
“At the end of the season, all of the coaching staff was changed,” Robison said. “Which started my process over again. Fuzzy had seen me play but the new coach had not and by this time it was late fall which meant no softball until the spring.”
Still, Robison and her family contacted CCS and other colleges like North Idaho, Whitworth and Olympic College. In 2018, Robison hit .392 with 10 doubles and 17 RBI.
“I know in my heart that I really wanted to be at CCS,” Robison said. “Over several months, several emails later back and forth and with my basketball season coming to an end, I finally had the time to join the 2018/2019 team for practice.”
The coaching staff was super welcoming and helpful as the team ran through drills and batting cage sessions.
“At the end we played a loser out game in taking ground balls,” Robison said. “I was the last one standing! The entire team was super excited, it was really fun.”
She talked with CCS Coach Lindsie Scholwinski afterwards, and she showed interest in Robison, saying she would call within a week.
Instead, she emailed Robison the next day.
“The next day I received an email from her wanting to arrange a time to talk about signing with CCS,” Robison said. “Needless to say I couldn’t have been more excited. I signed my NWAC letter of intent a week later at a signing ceremony at CCS.”
Robison will continue playing in her position at first base at CCS and be a competitive part in the eastern portion of the NWAC. She plans on getting her prerequisites for Dental Hygiene.
“My dad Gil is my number one inspiration. With his vast knowledge and love of the game, he has always been my go-to person for softball, advice and support,” Robison said. “Tom Skok also started coaching me when I was little and has coached me in club softball, high school softball and basketball. He has helped push me past my comfort zone, encouraged and helped shape me into the player I am today. I am thankful for the countless hours he has put in to our teams, believing in our abilities and never has given up on us.”
KOLER HEADING TO YAKIMA VALLEY
Madison Koler will be taking her bat and glove to Yakima Valley, and NWAC pitching is probably going to be amiss that she made the move.
“I chose Yakima Valley due to they have a specialized building to tutor kids in certain subjects like Math and English,” Koler said. “The campus was fairly new, the walk from the campus dorms to the field was a seven- minute walk and I really loved it when I went down there.”
To say Koler has had fun during her softball career might be an understatement. She seems to be having the most fun out of anyone on the diamond. Her ability to lead with a positive attitude also helps the Cougar dougout immensely.
“My experience playing in Chewelah all around has been fun; we’ve got Tom who’s been around summer league and seen what he needs to do to prepare kids for college by watching Jaelyn Skok (who is now with Wenatchee Valley playing softball) play,” Koler said. “So we have coaching that knows what they’ve got to do. The kids have been fun and for the past couple of years now we’ve had a lot of fun.”
Koler said that the recruitment process was filled with a lot of emotions but in the end was worth it.
“You’d have excitement that you’re taking the next step in making your dream come true along with that the nervous feeling to see who would respond to you,” Koler said. “I think the most nervous I was through the whole thing was the college tours and the tryout to see how you’d work with the team.”
Koler said her family has helped her out through her entire softball career, especially her mom Sheila and dad Lace.
“They find the time to get me with my hitting coach to work things out after practice,” Koler said. “My dad and I have grown a lot through softball. I think without him I wouldn’t have been the player I am today. My family has been my biggest support with whatever I do and I can never thank them enough.”
Koler said she plans on studying physical therapy during college and one day open her own practice.
But before then, she’ll be practicing on the softball diamond.
“The plan for the team is to play solid defense, minimize errors and hit consistently and drive in runs,” Koler said.
Judging by her high school career that shouldn’t be too tough. Now she still has her senior season ahead of her for the Cougars and she’s easy to spot. She’s the Cougar batter with the Marine Corps sticker on her helmet.
“I feel great about this season, I’ve got all the faith in the world in this group,” Koler said. “We all get along pretty well and laugh all the time.”
While moving down to 2B is something of an unknown for the Cougars, you know both Robison and Koler will want to come out on top this year.
“Going into 2B not knowing what’s out there is going to be fun because we’re going to have to play with everything we’ve got and leave it on the field.”