One of the lesser known, but most heartwarming sports stories of the fall is a tale of two athletes, two universities and the love of one sport.
Rebecca Dodele of St. Vincent High School and McKenzie Maher of Petaluma High School have been awarded partial scholarships to continue their education and soccer careers by California universities. Dodele will attend University of the Pacific in Stockton, while Maher will continue her education at Sonoma State University.
The two have crossed paths many times during what have already been long soccer careers, including playing on the same Sonoma County Alliance Club 97 team. They have shared some of the same club coaches and earned many of the same honors for their play on the field. Although they played on different high school teams, both have been instrumental in leading their teams to success during their prep years. Now, both will continue their sports and academic careers at universities both feel are a perfect fit.
Dodele said she chose the University of Pacific because it reminds here a lot of St. Vincent, a high school she has grown to love.
"It is a small community like St. Vincent with a lot of people who really seem to care for one another," she explains. "The teacher-student ratio is small. The campus is really beautiful. It felt like home."
She said she had pretty much narrowed her choice to Pacific or Fresno State and, after a visit to the Pacific campus, the choice was down to one.
She also likes that Pacific is part of the West Coast Conference, which will give her a chance to play against teams like BYU, San Diego, St. Mary's and Portland. "It is a very tough conference, and I'm looking forward to playing against those teams," she says.
Dodele still hasn't decided on a major. "I'm going to explore a major in psychology, but I'm not really sure," she says.
Although soccer is her love, Dodele is an all-around athlete who enjoys competing no matter what the sport. In high school she has played basketball and track in addition to soccer and has also been a softball player. In her senior season, even as she prepares for college, she started in the fall playing soccer, quickly transitioned to basketball and, as soon as the North Central League II champion Mustangs finish with the North Coast Section playoffs, will move on to track. This is all in addition to playing almost year round for her SCA team and maintaining a 3.6 grade point average.
"It all gets tough at times, especially when I was trying to fill out college applications, play soccer and basketball and study. It is all about time management and picking and choosing what is most important to you," she says.
She has a case full of trophies. Just a few of her awards include All-Empire soccer for three straight years, NCL II MVP as a junior and a senior; SV Coaches Most Inspirational Player as a junior and a senior; SV Triple Crown Three-Sport varsity athlete for four straight years; first-team all-league in basketball as a junior; MVP varsity girls track as a freshman and sophomore, team captain as a junior; NCS qualifier in track as a freshman and sophomore; and SV Young Maturing Athlete Award as a freshman.