Triad Of The North: Culver Stockton To Gain Four Triad Graduates
By Anthony Jones
Earlier this year, Triad High School seniors Desiree Hensiek and Savannah Stauffer both signed to play for Culver-Stockton College’s women’s soccer team. Seeing two players from the same high school team go to the same collegiate squad is a rare occurrence, but the Triad girls soccer connection to Culver-Stockton goes even deeper. Last year, Sierra Schlemmer committed to Culver-Stockton and three years ago Jody Ellis did the same.
When asked if targeting players from certain schools was an objective or just an occurrence by chance, Culver-Stockton’s head coach Tyler Tomlinson said, “I think it is a little bit of both. Ultimately, when you get a kid from a certain area, a certain high school, or a certain club it kind of opens your eyes up a little bit to that place. But what I also think it does is opens up younger players or other players to use as well. So it’s kind of one of those things that runs both ways.”
Tomlinson also stated that he thinks highly of Triad’s girls soccer program. “First of all, they just breed success. It’s a great soccer program, they’ve done very well over the past several years. The coaching staff have been good with their communication and things like that always help. For us, we understand that we’re not only going to be getting good kids, but good soccer players from the program.”
Currently a junior, Jody Ellis was the first Knight turned Culver-Stockton Wildcat. When asked about the relationship between the two teams, she responded, “I do not necessarily think I started the link between Culver and Triad. Coach Tomlinson sold the school and the soccer aspect and I just think the girls picked the school for some of the same reasons I chose the school. I am happy that they will be able to go to school and also play soccer at the collegiate level in the same positive environment that I did.”
One of the best aspects for both the Culver-Stockton squad and the Triad graduates to have landed in the same spot is the chemistry they already have established. Soccer is a sport that heavily relies on gelling well with teammates, so it is a significant advantage to have built up chemistry.
“Chemistry is important. When you get to the college level, it is a laboratory of trying to all of these players from all around the United States and we have players from different countries. They have all kinds of different backgrounds when it comes to coaching and so sometimes it is hard to get all of those things to come together. When you have players that have played together, it does make my job easier and it could make us a better team quicker or more dangerous quicker.” said Tomlinson.
Adding on about chemistry, Ellis said, “I have never shared the field with Savannah or Desiree, but I have with Sierra in high school for two years. Coming from the same high school is reassuring because I know they will be competitive and quality players from being coached under Matt Bettlach, Jim Jackson and Bailey Stack. Chemistry is huge as a team because it carries over onto the field and correlates to winning games.”
Both current players for Culver-Stockton have been impressive at that level and started for the team from their freshman seasons. Their head coach has very high praise for the both of them.
Speaking about Ellis, Tomlinson said of her, “First of all, Jody is a great kid. She is very respected by her peers and very respectful to other people. She has kind of made a name for herself on campus and what is most important is she has been one of our best players now for three years. Our conference has recognized that, as she has been named to the Heart of America Athletic Conference team two times. This year Jody moved up to second all-time in assists for our program. That is pretty impressive, assists are a hard stat to come by and I honestly did not expect someone to come in and make a push for the top spots in career assists. I honestly feel like if we had a full season this year and a full season next year, she could have broken that record. She is obviously a really great player and we are lucky to have her.”
A freshman this year, Sierra Schlemmer had a strong start to her collegiate career. But unfortunately, her season was cut short after she suffered a pancreas injury that required surgery.
After only a short season with the team, Tomlinson already thinks highly of Schlemmer. “Sierra came in and the minute she was cleared, she basically became a starter for us. She is just the nicest kid in the world. Everything she has gone through and to have her outlook on life, I think a lot of people could learn a lot from Sierra on how to approach life. We’re lucky to have her and she is at this point, I think the doctors are going to have her back on the field in the fall, which I think will be a pretty interesting story in and of itself. Going from a life-threatening surgery, to maybe being able to play the sport you love again is pretty amazing.”
He is also looking forward to the arrival of the incoming Knights. “We’re excited that Desiree and Savannah are continuing the pipeline. I think it is a really neat thing we have going and we would love to keep that pipeline open to keep getting great kids to come to our school. I think it makes us better and hopefully we give them a great experience to pass along to future Triad kids.”