CHEYENNE – The environment that revolves around the Laramie County Community College women’s soccer team made staying in Cheyenne an easy choice for Kiara Kershaw.
Kershaw, a senior at Cheyenne East, signed to continue her soccer career at LCCC on Thursday.
“It’s super awesome being able to play here in my hometown. I love it because I get to stay with my family, and I get my coach for a couple more years,” the goalkeeper said. “I just love LCCC and the team atmosphere over there. I was super drawn to it.”
The coach Kershaw is referring to is Rebcca Valdez, who is East’s head coach and an LCCC assistant. Valdez matched the anticipation of continuing to see Kershaw compete.
“It’s exciting to see, and especially with losing the COVID year, it’s kinda cool to get a couple more years with her,” the coach said. “I’m excited to see her at the college level.”
Kershaw started for the Lady Thunderbirds during her freshman season and has developed into a leader on the pitch, Valdez said. A (what would have been) four-year starter at goalie is also not exactly common.
“We asked her to step up as a freshman, and she has developed into a really good leader that has helped on a team which last year had a really young defense,” Valdez said. “So, she’s taken on that role, even though she may have not been ready for it.”
Kershaw plans to become a nurse and knew the importance of finding a program that would help her develop in all phases going forward. She knows she found that with the Golden Eagles and coach Nate Ulness.
“When I talked to him, he wanted the best for his players, and he wants to make the girls be able to be successful,” Kershaw said. “At the end of the day, winning is important, but he wants to help build amazing people, and I thought that was super important to me when I decided to sign with them.”
Jardine headed to North Dakota
Darcy Jardine has only spent one season with the East girls basketball team, but she quickly became a key member of the roster.
Her play helped lead the T-Birds to a state championship last year, where they defeated Cody 52-37.
“Acclimating to our system at the rate she did has been really impressive,” East coach Eric Westling said. “It’s really neat to see a kid come to a new system and accept a role and understand what we’re trying to do, and she did that really well.”
Jardine’s junior season garnered her an opportunity to play at the next level. The 6-foot-4 post player signed with North Dakota State College of Science on Thursday. NDSCS is located in Wahpeton, North Dakota.
“They checked all of the boxes that I wanted in a program, and when I got there, all the girls were very welcoming, even though they had never met me before,” Jardine said.
Jardine emphasized how important last season was for her development, especially as a teammate. Battling through COVID and other obstacles allowed her to realize that importance even more.
“We were all able to grow, and through that, we were all able to come together as a team and work through the challenges we did face and come out with a state championship,” she said. “Hopefully we can do that this year.”
Jardine’s commitment to improve her craft was also a big reason for her development. She hasn’t shied away from an opportunity to get better.
“Her love of the sport and her want to get better every day is just something you don’t always see in kids,” the coach said. “She’s a true gym rat. She loves to be there, and it’s kind of a coach’s dream in that regard.”
Walsh inks with South Dakota School of Mines
Kiera Walsh knew when she spent some time with the South Dakota School of Mines volleyball program it had shot to the top of her list of college choices.
The Rapid City-based school stayed at the top of her list from that point on. Walsh inked with the Hardrockers to continue her volleyball career Thursday.
“When I started talking to (SDSOM), I laid off of other schools,” said Walsh, who also considered Black Hills State and LCCC. “It was their family and culture and who they truly are as a team. … I got to be involved in practices with the girls, I ate dinner with the girls, and that was a big thing.
“Everyone took me in as if I was already playing there, like I belonged there. I just felt like that was my new home.”
The senior helped East clinch a spot in the Class 4A state tournament this month. She was named to the 4A East all-conference team and was second team all-state while finishing the season 188 kills and 48 blocks, both ranked second on the team.
Because of injuries, Walsh was forced to switch positions throughout the season. But it helped her develop overall, and will only help her on her next step.
“I was moving all over, wherever it was needed, and I think that was the biggest thing (in my development), was not being OK with being in a set position, but being OK with moving around,” said Walsh, who is studying to become a physical therapist. “Wherever the team needed me at any point, it was being that leader and helping the team at all positions.”