Senior Wildcats look to make the best of their extra and final season at CWU


Photo courtesy of CWU Athletics

Gabriel Strasbaugh, Staff Reporter

With the NCAA granting another year of eligibility, many seniors’ last season has more to offer than they originally thought. Athletes like soccer forward Jayme Woodfill, get this spring exhibition season to prepare for an extra year given. 

“I had a smile on my face the entire time,” Woodfill said. “We played SMU at home for our first spring game, that was my first game here with the girls since transferring, and to get back on the field, man. I kind of forgot the game day feeling like the butterflies you get right before you kick off.” 

Woodfill made the first splash play of the spring campaign scoring in the first four minutes of their first matchup against Saint Martins. That goal led to CWU’s eventual win in both matchups against SMU starting 2-0. 

Woodfill said the normalcy of being on the field at one point felt out of the ordinary. 

“The strangest thing about the game was our first time in a year, everyone took their mask off,” Woodfill said. “Obviously, I see my teammates and I’ve seen their faces when we’re doing other stuff but seeing their faces while playing soccer and not seeing a mask was like woah! I kind of forgot what you looked like under the mask.”

Woodfill said looking back on her career, she has learned to enjoy the moments that have allowed her to be a leader and player with a chance at a career after CWU. 

“When you get to college you think, oh, I have four years here, and that was what I did as a freshman,” Woodfill said. “Then you play your four years and your senior season all of the sudden roles around and you think, wow, I have to do everything. I have to make sure I enjoy every practice, enjoy what I’m doing and then COVID hit and I didn’t know if I’d be able to play.”

Woodfill said she and many others were fortunate to get one more opportunity before graduating. 

Photo courtesy of CWU Athletics

“Luckily, the NCAA established the new season for us,” Woodfill said. “It’s that inner dog like competition and fierceness, but it’s the connections you make with the freshmen and my teammates. For four months it was just me alone on a soccer field with myself kicking to a wooden board. It’s nice when the thing you’re kicking to actually talks back and moves around with you.”  

Some players last season were cut short during the initial shutdown in the spring of 2020. Basketball guard CJ Hyder said his hopes of playing professional ball are still a reality with his final season just a few months away. 

“We’ll see how the season goes,” Hyder said. “I still have hopes of playing professional ball so that is my number one goal and then we’ll see what happens. My plan B is to make plan A work, but if worse comes to worse I’ll see what I can apply a sports management degree to because I do want to get into coaching.”

Hyder said he tries to lead his team and get them fired up for the competition they will face each week. 

“The main thing I want is to make sure my team has an edge to them,” Hyder said. “I want to make sure they are playing hard all the time.”

Hyder had his best performance of the exhibition six game season against Northwest Nazarene at home. All four of Hyder’s threes hit home while hitting each of his field goals attempted. Hyder led the team with 18 points resulting in a 94-84 victory. 

With so many new faces on the roster, Hyder said the importance of the exhibition games prior to his final season cannot be understated. 

“They’re very helpful because we have so many new players,” Hyder said. “More than half the team is new, so those six games really helped us with where we are at and develop more chemistry going into next season.”

For starting offensive lineman Will Ortner, who ended his final season injured, the extra year of eligibility is another chance to continue playing the sport he loves and end the way he sees fit. 

“The fact that they gave us an extra year was just huge for me,” Ortner said. “I want to play football until someone says I can’t anymore, and no one has said that I can’t yet.”

Ortner has spent all his college career a part of the Wildcats earning third team All-Great Northwest Athletic Conference honors during the 2018 campaign. 

“It is really nice to get that extra year, especially last year going out with an injury,” Ortner said. “That is not how I want my career at Central to end or probably forever, so it was like, I want to go out on my own terms. I feel like getting that extra year I have a chance to.” 

Ortner said with his time at CWU coming to a close, it is a bittersweet reality. 

“Now I gotta go grow up, and I don’t really want to do that,” Ortner said. “I still want to be a kid for a few more years. I want to keep playing ball as long as I can.”