Forest Lake senior Danielle Carlson signed a letter of intent this spring to play Division II volleyball at William Jewell College, a private college in Liberty, Miss.
Carlson was a manager for the Forest Lake volleyball program during the 2013-14 season, and is currently playing for the Northern Lights club as a right side and back-up middle hitter.
Head coach Joanna Lyons of Northern Lights said Carlson has come a long way since making the team in November, and is developing the skills needed to compete at the next level.
“She’s come in as a role player on the team—she’s a good teammates and is very supportive of the other players,” Lyons said. “She’s really improved in blocking and hitting, and has improved greatly in her net play.”
William Jewell is part of the Great Lakes Valley Conference. The Cardinals were 4-28 this season and 2-16 in conference play.
Carlson said she chose William Jewell after visiting the campus and appreciating its history, as well as clicking with the incoming head coach.
“I really liked the professors there, and how you can always just sit and have coffee with them—everyone there was really, really nice,” Carlson said. “The coach is amazing, that’s an understatement.”
Outgoing Ranger senior Mia Leeson earned a spot on a prestigious dance team for 2014-15. The dancer tried out via video for the University of Wisconsin dance team, and was selected to join the squad.
Leeson was a two-year captain for the Ranger dance team and earned all-conference honors both seasons. Leeson also earned all-state and all-state academic accolades during her senior year.
Forest Lake Dance Team coach Cheryl Smoczyk said numerous high school dancers try out to no avail due to the high standards expected in the audition videos.
“We are super excited, as the tryout requirements are very high level, so most high school dancers eliminate themselves from the process just because of the number of technical elements involved,” she said.
Though not considered an NCAA sport, the Badger dancers are routinely ranked in the top 10 at the Universal Dance Association College Dance Team National Championships.
As part of the squad, Leeson will perform at each football and men’s basketball home game, as well as represent the university at numerous public relations functions.
Alexa Bremer will be playing Division III softball for St. Scholastica next season.
The Ranger third baseman had a batting average of .385 in her senior season while leading Forest Lake in singles (31) and walks (nine). Bremer was second on the squad in hits (37) and stolen bases (13). Bremer also earned all-state honorable-mention honors as a junior.
Forest Lake head coach Angie Ryan said Bremer’s skills traslate to the other side of the box score, as well.
“Alexa is very strong defensively—she’s the best third baseman we’ve ever had.” Ryan said. “She has a great glove, a tremendously strong arm and has really come into her own the last few years.”
Bremer, who will join former Ranger Micah McGuiness on the Saints’ squad, is excited for the opportunity to play college ball in Duluth.
“The school seemed like the best fit and they have a pretty good team and good coach,” Bremer said. “I just really like Duluth, so the school and location were the main things.”
St. Scholastica went 27-12 overall this season, and won the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference with a perfect mark of 18-0.
Another Ranger will continue her softball career in college at the University of Wisconsin-Stout next year. Jenny Bracht is joining the Blue Devils, who went 27-12 overall and 12-1 in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Though the Ranger didn’t see much playing time on the field for Forest Lake, head coach Angie Ryan said she is an asset to any program.
“She’s a really good softball player,” Ryan said. “Her swing has greatly improved, she has good speed, works hard to be the best and has a quality attitude.”
Bracht is looking to play catcher or outfield at Stout, but “enjoys both equally,” and is excited for a tight-knit team in the Blue Devil dugout.
“At first I wasn’t interested, then I walked the campus and immediately fell in love,” Bracht said. “I met the coach and a few players and it’s just the atmosphere I want to spend my next four years at—they’re really close, like a family.”
Multi-sport athlete Taylor Shortly has decided to play college tennis at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter come fall.
The Ranger, who qualified for the Class AA doubles state tournament the past two years alongside her younger sister, Chase, said she made her decision after years of expressed interest from renowned Gustie head coach Jon Carlson.
“Gustavus was my first college visit, but I stayed super open-minded and visited other colleges in the (Twin) Cities and Notre Dame, then I went back one more time and realized that’s where I really wanted to be,” Shortly said. “The facilities are gorgeous, I like the small-town atmosphere and I wanted to put academics first since that’s most important. And their athletics are still very good.”
Shortly will be joining a program rich with history, as Carlson is entering his 24th season as head coach with an overall record of 504-158, and a record of 227-4 in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Gusties went 16-6 overall and 8-2 in the MIAC during the 2013-14 season. They were the conference runners-up to Carlton.