By David Krueger Herald Writer
GRANITE FALLS — Courtney Young has literally bled for the Granite Falls soccer team. Now, she’ll get the chance to do that for a college team as well.
The goalkeeper, who took a cleat to the face in a playoff game but still returned to action, exuded excitement as she signed her National Letter of Intent to play soccer at Eastern Washington University. She became the third female athlete from Granite Falls to go on to play at a Division-1 school.
“I am feeling super excited,” Young said. “I can’t wait for college.”
Young was honored with a celebration Wednesday afternoon at Granite Falls High School. She joins Katie Cashman — also at Eastern — and Kelsey Carlson (who plays at Montana) as the only Granite Falls female athletes to earn scholarships to play Division-1 sports. All three played soccer for the Tigers and coach Cory Elwell, who isn’t quite ready to call his team a dynasty.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a dynasty,” said Elwell, who’s coached the Granite Falls girls for three years. “I’ve been fortunate to have lots of good players.”
That includes Young, who was injured in the Tigers’ first playoff game against Bellingham this season. With the score tied 1-1, Young and a Red Raiders’ player both dove for the soccer ball and Young ended up getting cleated in the face.
Granite Falls Athletic Director Doug Plucker “patched her up,” according to Elwell and she went back into the game – helping the Tigers win 2-1 in overtime.
“She wanted to go back in,” Elwell said. “It was an important game. She’s just tough.”
Young was the team MVP and co-captain the last two years, and was a second-team all-conference goalkeeper during her senior season when she recorded seven shutouts. The Tigers made it to the 2A district tournament where they went 1-2.
Plucker, the first-year Granite Falls AD, retold the Bellingham playoff-game story at Young’s ceremony. He said it spoke to Young’s character and determination. Plucker praised Young for being a great role model for students at Granite Falls.
“Anytime somebody like Courtney is able to represent your community and school the way that she has, it’s really a testament to her and her family. It’s so great for the community,” Plucker said.
Young also played basketball at Granite Falls up until this season. She started the season with the Tigers but tore her Anterior Cruciate Ligament on the sixth day of practice. Young, who had her right leg in a brace at the ceremony, has already started physical therapy and said she “should be fine by the time I get (to Eastern).”
Plucker said that by the time he got to Granite Falls Young had pretty much settled on Eastern, his alma mater. But Plucker, who was a member of the last baseball team at Eastern, was more than happy to discuss his former school with Young and answer any questions she might have.
“Being an Eastern alum and having been an athlete there I’ve had a lot of opportunities to talk to her about what it’ll be like,” Plucker said. “I think it’s a great school. It’s not too big and not too small. There are plenty of opportunities for all the students.”
Young was drawn to Eastern early on in the recruiting process. Cashman, a 2011 graduate of Granite Falls and good friend of Young, helped direct the Tigers senior to Eastern, as well as directing the Eagles’ coaches to Young.
“Eastern was kind of the only school I was looking at,” said Young, who went to several college showcases and talked with coaches from all over the region.
While Young loves the small-school feel of Granite Falls where “everybody knows everybody,” her mother admitted that going to a 2A school made recruiting a bit more difficult.
“Being from a small school makes it very difficult because schools don’t really want to come out to a small school,” said Sondra Novak, Young’s mother.
Novak said that the celebration has been going on for at least a day at Young’s house.
“There are balloons everywhere,” Novak said. “The rock outside (Granite Falls High School) is painted and decorated (for Young). We took the day off yesterday to wait for the delivery truck to drop off the letter.”
Said Young: “This is pretty epic right now.”