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Hoops dreams about to come true for three friends

Beyonce Bea, Cassidy Gardner and Brooke Walling set to sign with Division I programs

The three of them have been on the same club teams for years.

Two of them are high school teammates, as well.

They were all together when they received their first Division I offers.

And this week, these three friends with basketball in their souls will be signing letters of intent.

Three friends who have been on the same club team for years are excited about signing Division I scholarships for women’s basketball this week: Cassidy Gardner of Prairie, Brooke Walling of Prairie and Beyonce Bea of Washougal. Photos by Mike Schultz
Three friends who have been on the same club team for years are excited about signing Division I scholarships for women’s basketball this week: Cassidy Gardner of Prairie, Brooke Walling of Prairie and Beyonce Bea of Washougal. Photos by Mike Schultz


Several athletes from Clark County will be signing letters of intent this week. Below is who we know are expecting to sign this week, or have committed. Athletes, coaches, athletic directors, parents, please e-mail Paul Valencia with more names as athletes make their decisions this year: [email protected]

Camas

Maddie Kemp, Gonzaga women’s soccer

Daniel Maton, Washington men’s track and field

Callie Rheaume, Hawaii Pacific women’s soccer

Jenna Efraimson, University of Idaho, women’s soccer

Jazzy Paulson, Simon Fraser University, women’s soccer

Carla Jooste, Mercy College, women’s soccer

Haley Hanson, Northwest Nazarene, women’s basketball

Grant Heiser, Tacoma Community College, baseball

Jacob Trupp, Tacoma Community College, baseball

Columbia River

Evan Dirksen, Menlo College, men’s basketball

Hockinson

Noah Stecher, Washington State baseball

King’s Way Christian

MacKenzie Ellertson, Washington state women’s soccer

Madi Bertrand, Corban University women’s soccer

La Center

Laynie Erickson, Central Washington women’s volleyball

Taylor Stephens, Central Washington women’s basketball

Mountain View

Mollie Doyle, Walla Walla Community College volleyball

Prairie

Kameron Osborn, Oregon Tech men’s basketball

Jordan Chiles, UCLA, women’s gymnastics

Malaika Quigley, Southern Oregon women’s soccer

Katie Vroman, Southern Oregon volleyball

Cassidy Gardner, Portland State women’s basketball

Brooke Walling, Fresno State women’s basketball

Ridgefield

Kaia Oliver, Syracuse softball

Karli Oliver, George Fox women’s basketball

Vinh Dawkins, St. John’s University men’s lacrosse

Devi Dugan, Mt. Hood Community Colllege, women’s basketball

Skyview

Gracie Brenner, St Martin’s University volleyball

Noah Guyette, Air Force Academy baseball

Liam Kerr, Lower Columbia College baseball

Ryan Pitts, Lower Columbia College baseball

Lowell Dunmire, Lower Columbia College baseball

Alex Miller, Tacoma Community College baseball

Washougal

Beyonce Bea, University of Idaho women’s basketball

Woodland

Olivia Grey, Portland State softball


They won’t be going to college together — they picked different Division I programs — but their friendship promises to endure.

Beyonce Bea of Washougal is planning to sign with Idaho.

Cassidy Gardner of Prairie is expected to sign with Portland State.

And Brooke Walling of Prairie said she will sign with Fresno State.

Signing Day for sports other than football is Wednesday. Technically, it is a signing period. Bea, for example, is not planning on signing until Friday. Regardless of when the athletes make their decisions official, it is a memorable time.

For Bea, Gardner, and Walling, they are the only Clark County basketball players to be signing D-I this week.

All of them dreamed of this moment, and they were all together at a milestone in the recruiting process. They visited Portland State at the same time, and they were offered that day.

“It was fun to start the recruiting process together,” Bea said. “To end it (this week) is just really special.”

It also coincides with the first week of high school basketball practice. This is the senior season for all three, and they all have high expectations for their teams.

They also are excited about their futures.

Cassidy Gardner of Prairie is expected to sign with Portland State this week. Photo by Mike Schultz
Cassidy Gardner of Prairie is expected to sign with Portland State this week. Photo by Mike Schultz

For Gardner, that first offer from Portland State turned out to be the perfect fit for her.

“It was mostly the coaching staff. I felt the most comfortable with them. I could go to them with anything. I felt I’ve known them,” she said.

Gardner also appreciates staying close to home.

“My grandparents don’t fly. I wanted them to come to all my games. Everyone here can still watch me,” she said.

Bea picked Idaho as a home away from home.

“My family loves Idaho. We actually vacation in Idaho a lot,” she said, noting the skiing in the winter and boating in the summer. “Perfect fit for me, size, location, and distance from home.”

Plus, she loved the people there.

“I got to spend a lot of time with them,” Bea said of coaches and players. “I felt I could fit in and become part of the Vandal family. That was the No. 1 reason.”

Walling wanted to stay in the West but did not mind some distance.

“I wanted to be a little bit away from home so I could be independent,” Walling said. “But I didn’t want to be on the east coast and never see my family.”

Fresno State was all she could ask for as an athlete.

“One big family,” she said of the Bulldogs. “The facilities are extremely nice.”

The recruiting process was exciting and stressful for all three. They all announced their decisions early in the process. Gardner said that helped alleviate some of the stress.

Walling added: “It’s hard to tell a coach no. But if it’s not the right fit for you, it’s not the right fit.”

Brooke Walling of Prairie is expected to sign with Fresno State this week. Photo by Mike Schultz
Brooke Walling of Prairie is expected to sign with Fresno State this week. Photo by Mike Schultz

“At the beginning, it was really fun to get to know all the different colleges and coaches,” Bea said. “It definitely got stressful when it came time to letting people know I wasn’t interested. Once I made my decision, it felt right and no more stress anymore.”

With those big decisions made, it is now time to focus on the high school season.

Prairie, of course, is Prairie. Historically, one of the top programs in the Northwest.

“To be the best,” Walling said. “That’s the expectation.”

“To win it all,” Gardner said.

To them, the Falcons underachieved the past two season. Prairie reached the round of 16 in 2017 and then made the Tacoma Dome and the round of 12 last season. That is not good enough.

“Now we know. We know how it feels to lose,” Gardner said. “When you get there, and you’re so close … you don’t want to feel that way again.”

As seniors, there is a sense of urgency.

“We know how good we can be. We’ll have more determination this year. We do it now, or it’s never going to happen,” Gardner said.

Walling moved to Prairie prior to her sophomore season.

“I wanted win state three times,” she said. “Then, going into last year, we wanted to win state two times. Now, we just have one more shot.”

They love being part of a program that thinks big all the time.

“We get to feel like celebrities a little bit,” Gardner said.

“It makes us famous,” Walling added. “Everybody knows who we are.”

Along with that comes Prairie pressure.

“People have such high expectations for us. That’s not always a bad thing,” Gardner said. “We learn from it. It keeps us motivated to get better.”

Of course, when goals are not reached, the pain is deeper, too.

“When we lose, it’s like the end of the world,” Walling said.

Over at Washougal, it is a different kind of pressure. The Panthers have made it to the state tournament in each of Bea’s first three seasons. Before that, though, the Panthers had one appearance at state.

“I definitely think people expect it from us now,” Bea said. “I wouldn’t say that’s bad pressure. It’s still exciting to be the kind of group to (consistently) get Washougal to state.”

The Panthers finished fourth when Bea was a freshman but did not earn a trophy the past two seasons.

Beyonce Bea of Washougal is expected to sign with Idaho this week. Photo by Mike Schultz
Beyonce Bea of Washougal is expected to sign with Idaho this week. Photo by Mike Schultz

“This time, my last year, we want to go further than we’ve gone in the past,” Bea said. “Instead of getting to state, we want to place high at state and be really successful at state.”

Time will tell how both programs will fare this season. No matter the results, the seniors promise to enjoy one final season of high school ball while preparing for their future.

“It’s the only thing I do, so it means everything,” Gardner said of the sport. “If I didn’t have basketball, I really don’t think I’d have friends. All my best friends I’ve met playing basketball.”

Walling laughed when she heard Gardner say that because she understands. When Walling fills out questionnaires and is asked to list hobbies, she just lists basketball.

“It’s weird having a night without basketball. You don’t know what to do with your life,” she said.

“A constant part of my life,” Bea said. “It never really stops. It just keeps getting better, the more experiences I have.”

This week, they will sign letters of intent, to officially make basketball part of their lives in college.

“We all went through the recruiting process together,” Gardner said.

“This is what everyone dreams about, and I get to sign with my best fiends,” Walling said.

“It’s really cool to be able to sign during the same time frame with people you’ve been playing with the last couple years,” Bea said, referring to club ball. “We’ve all been pushing each other. We were all just waiting for this day.”

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About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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