Luatua to play for Mountaineers

The Herald’s 2004 All-Area Volleyball Player of the Year is taking her skills across state lines.

Jennifer Luatua, a dominant 5-foot-10 outside hitter who last November helped Everett High School advance to a state volleyball tournament for the first time in 19 years, will play volleyball at Eastern Oregon University. Eastern Oregon competes in the NAIA Cascade Collegiate Conference and is located in La Grande, about a four-hour drive south of Spokane.

Luatua considered several other schools, including The Evergreen State College (Olympia) and Wheeling Jesuit University (Wheeling, W.V.). She said moving away from her family will be difficult but she looks forward to new challenges.

“It’s going to be a really different experience for me,” Luatua said of leaving her family, “because I haven’t been away from them at all. But it will be good.”

Luatua, also a softball standout at Everett, will return to Western Washington at least a few times each year because Eastern Oregon plays in the same conference as Northwest University (Kirkland) and Evergreen State.

A Washington all-state team member, Luatua impressed first-year Eastern Oregon coach Amy Spruiell.

“She’s basically a great all-around player,” Spruiell said. “She’s gonna be a big kid in the front row … There’s a good chance that she will be able to come in and contribute this season.

“She hits a heavy ball,” Spruiell added, referring to Luatua’s thunderous spikes.

Everett High coach Heather Burglund believes Luatua will make a significant impact on her new team.

“She’s gonna be an outstanding player for Eastern Oregon,” Burglund said. “I’m sure they will be really glad to (have her). She’s an asset to any team.”

Other local high school athletes to compete for collegiate programs:

* Andrea Patterson of Lake Stevens High will compete for the Eastern Washington University track and field team, according to Lake Stevens coach Jeff Page. Patterson placed fifth in the triple jump at the 2004 Class 4A state meet but she missed this year’s state meet after an infected tooth hindered her at districts.

* Jackson High’s Andrew Rochon will play football at City College of San Francisco, Jackson coach Joel Vincent said. Rochon (6-foot-5, 245 pounds) was a tight end/defensive end in high school and is expected to play defense in college.

* Britni Rathke (Snohomish High), Devonne Austin (Everett) and Laurie Bader (Lakewood) will play basketball at Everett Community College, according to Everett CC women’s basketball coach Chet Hovde.

* Danielle Coleman of Everett High will play volleyball for California Lutheran University (Thousand Oaks, Calif.), according to her high school coach, Heather Burglund.

Kamiak alum hired at Gardner Webb: Kelli Johnson, a Kamiak High alum, has been hired as pitching coach for the Gardner Webb University softball team. Located in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner Webb competes in the Atlantic Sun Conference.

In May, Johnson, an Edmonds native, completed her collegiate playing career at Winthrop University (Rock Hill, S.C.). The left-handed pitcher was 21-11 with a team-best 1.36 earned-run average during her senior year. A four-time All-Big South Conference selection, last season Johnson was mentioned in Sports Illustrated after she threw two perfect games in one week.

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