By Eric Trent / [email protected]
In the summer of 2020, as recent WF West graduate Cassy Schilter entered her senior year, she had already racked up numerous community college offers to play football at the senior level.
It was nice to have a variety to choose from, but Schilter, a four-year starter for the Bearcats, was looking to continue her athletic and college career at a university.
“One of my biggest goals was that I wanted to push myself to try and get a four-year-old,” Schilter said. “Part of that was that I had to work hard to get to colleges and find the ones that matched what I wanted in terms of size and level of play.”
One night, while her mother, Michelle Schilter, was watching television, KIRO 7 aired a segment acknowledging Washington athletes who had signed with colleges. A girl from Woodland was heading to Rocky Mountain College. Michelle asked Cassy if she had ever heard of this university and she said no.
So Cassy started researching the college in Billings, Montana. She soon discovered that was all she was looking for: the size – not too big, not too small – the location and level of play. The Battlin’ Bears compete in the Cascade Collegiate Conference (CCC), an affiliate at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
As fate would have it, the Battlin’ Bears were hosting an identification (ID) camp at the end of the month, where the coaching staff invites high school players to assess their level of play and decide if they want to recruit one of them.
At the time, all of Schilter’s summer tournaments had been canceled due to the pandemic and she was receiving limited training with her club team. It made sense to go to Montana and check it out.
Schilter impressed the week-long camp coaches, who told her they were interested but wanted her to visit other schools before making her decision to commit. They wanted someone who was sure they wanted to be a Battlin’ Bear.
She called the Rocky Mountain coaches in November after visiting a few other colleges, saying she still wanted to join the team. The Battlin’ Bears offered her a scholarship and she accepted.
From the beginning
Schilter started her football career at just 6 or 7 years old when her parents brought her to a youth recreation league in Chehalis.
“It was just something to keep me active. I liked being with my friends,” Schilter said. “It was just something like, ‘Oh, I play football after school.'”
She started playing club football aged 10 or 11, starting with local Volcano Select Soccer Club before moving to Blackhills FC. At the age of 14, she took it seriously and began to look to the future.
She went to her first ID camp her freshman year, which was her first exposure to the college recruiting process. In her sophomore year, when she began to consider attending other ID camps, she realized she wanted to play college football and began working towards that goal.
College coaches are not allowed to officially contact high school recruits until their freshman year begins. For Schilter, it all started with community colleges reaching out to her. One of the first was Portland Community College in Oregon.
But after an impressive junior season, she sparked even more interest by earning Evergreen 2A Conference First Team honors as a defenseman. After her senior year, she had another all-league selection and was one of 14 players selected for The Chronicle’s 2021 All-Area Women’s Soccer Team.
Now, she’ll bring her defensive skills to a Battlin’ Bears team that finished in the middle of the pack in the CCC East Division during the 2020-21 season, going 4-4 overall and in conference play.
“I can’t wait to experience a new level of play,” Schilter said. “And also, I will be playing with a lot of people I know from other colleges. My parents will be able to come and watch me. And also be around a new group of people. There are a lot of players in the team who come from Europe and other states. I’m going to meet a lot of new people. I’m excited to be in a new area and see what it’s like.
As Schilter prepares to leave for Billings, Montana on Saturday, she never planned to pursue her college and athletic career in Big Sky Country, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Where would I have been if my mother hadn’t watched the KIRO 7 news that night?” Schilter said.