April 17, 2009
STARKVILLE -- Nick Klaskala and Josh Senter wanted to keep their options open.
Klaskala considered a number of schools and debated which one was the best fit for him academically.
Senter thought golf might give him the best opportunity to continue his athletic career in college.
Turns out another option turned out to be the right one.
Klaskala and Senter, who were key members of the Starkville Academy boys soccer team this past season, signed national letters of intent to play soccer Thursday at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
Klaskala, a senior midfielder, said his goal was to play soccer in college. He contemplated going to Mississippi State or attending East Mississippi C.C. or Mississippi University for Women but opted to keep his athletic career alive.
"It took me until about last night to decide I was going here," Klaskala said. "My mom wanted to keep me in town and me to go to Mississippi State. I also had a scholarship at MUW where I would have studied art and design, but they have an art and design program at Gulf Coast, so I guess I can get on to that. I was just trying to keep my options open."
Klaskala said he will have to improve his fitness to cope with the skill, size, and strength he will face in college. He feels confident he will be able to make that adjustment.
"It is a big day," said Klaskala, who was the MVP for the North team in the MPSA All-Star Game. "It is more of a relief that I have somewhere to go and that I am sticking with soccer and that I am taken care of the next two years."
Senter played on the varsity team since his sophomore season. At 6-foot-2, he has the frame and potential to compete for playing time as a freshman.
Senter said he felt a "good energy" last month at the tryout he and Klaskala attended at MGCCC. He also plans to play golf at the school.
"It is pretty amazing," Senter said. "This is all pretty unreal. I am just glad to have the chance."
Senter said he was really confident about his chance to earn a scholarship for golf. He discovered late that there were several schools that wanted him to attend a soccer tryout, so he decided to see how he fared.
"I thought I might as well give it a shot because what is life if you don''t have a few risks to take," Senter said.
Senter said the tryout opened his eyes to the size and speed of college soccer. In high school, he said he was used to facing three or four shots that would be difficult to stop in an 80-minute match.
In the hour tryout at MGCCC, he said there were 15 balls he couldn''t stop.
"It is a whole new ballgame," Senter said. "They have a couple of kids that are better than anybody we saw in MPSA. We''re both going to have to step up."
Starkville coach Kevin Lanford said both players should fare well in their first seasons at MGCCC.
"They were huge, especially Josh in goal," Lanford said. "He made a lot of great saves all year. Nick played wherever we needed him. He was full speed and whistle to whistle. He has tremendous ball skill and soccer smarts. He will grow even more at Gulf Coast. Both of them will grow even more. I am excited for them. I think they are going to help that team."
MGCCC assistant coach Travis Dickey, who was as assistant soccer coach at Starkville Academy from 2004-2006, coached Klaskala at Starkville Academy and knew what he had to offer. He said Senter was a "pleasant" surprise who showed in his tryout he could hold his own.
"He made some saves we didn''t think anybody could make," Dickey said. "They''re two good quality players that we''re looking forward to having."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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