Jazmyne Turner will be running track at Missouri Valley College next year, and how she got there shows how much recruiting has changed in college sports.
“I found it by my recruiting app, NCSA,” the Pahrump Valley High School senior said at a signing day event Feb. 5 in the school’s auditorium. Next College Student Athlete is a for-profit organization that connects middle and high school student-athletes with college coaches.
“They emailed me, they liked what they saw, and I just did more digging and ended up liking the school.”
Kody Peugh’s recruitment to play football at Ottawa University in Arizona was more traditional, especially since Spirit coaches already had recruited Pahrump Valley to land Zach Trieb and Nico Velazquez from the Class of 2019.
“That helps, just because you get the word of mouth,” Ottawa coach Mike Nesbitt said. “You’ve got guys in the building, their families, the parents. This is how the program is, this is what it’s about. Our players and their parents are our best recruiters. If they’re enjoying the experience, other guys are going to want to join in.”
Turner, Peugh and Rayder Maestas join four previously announced signees — McKayla Bartley, Skyler Lauver, Terrena Martin and Chase McDaniel — in bringing to seven the number of Pahrump athletes who have signed to continue their athletic careers in college next year.
Bartley, who was at the Virginia campus of Bryant & Stratton College, and Maestas did not attend the ceremony, but the other five spoke briefly about their choices after being introduced by Jason Odegard, athletic administrator at PVHS, on Wednesday morning at the annual signing day event in the school’s auditorium.
“Today we are celebrating four young women and three young men who are making commitments to post-secondary institutions,” Odegard said in his opening remarks. He later confirmed that seven is the most the school has had in one year.
“For them to be recruited and have a college or university offer to help them get a college degree is an outstanding accomplishment,” he said. “I am confident that each of these athletes realizes the value of that opportunity and will continue to strive for success both on the athletic field and in the classroom.”
Turner’s method of finding Missouri Valley is typical of that school’s athletic program, said sprints and hurdles coach Aaron Tedys.
“We do online,” he said. “We contact some coaches, but a lot of our recruiting, especially out of state, comes from online databases and lists of times.”
Missouri Valley is a member of the Heart of America Conference in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. The school, which was founded in 1889 and enrolls only 1,400 students, offers nearly 30 sports.
Turner, who also plans to play basketball at Missouri Valley, owns personal bests of 12.74 seconds in the 100 meters and 27.54 in the 200. During her junior season, she placed second in the 100 (12.79) at the Class 3A Southern Regional Championships and fifth (12.96) at the 3A state meet. She also was part of a 4×100 team that finished second in the regional meet.
“Their coaches seem really nice,” said Turner, who wants to become a veterinarian and has aspirations of opening her own animal shelter or clinic. “They make me feel like I’m already family.”
Tedys said that is part of what makes Turner a good match for the Vikings.
“She’s seems like a very hard worker,” he said. “She’s very passionate for track, and that’s something we want in the program. She loved being part of a team and wants to continue that. We want to feel like a family, and that’s something she really wanted. She has a positive attitude and a good work ethic.”
Tedys hopes those attributes help boost a program that finished dead last in the 2019 conference outdoor championships and 10th out of 11 teams in the indoor championships.
“Just recently, we’ve has been through a lot of coaching changes,” said Tedys, in his second year with the Vikings. “We’re trying to rebuild it into what we believe it can be. These kids have great relationships with us and with each other. We have things like cookouts, movie nights and game nights, to start and build relationships. We’re building toward winning titles, but also building those relationships that are going to last the rest of your life.”
Peugh already has relationships with two of his future teammates, and he said Trieb told him some positive things about the school during his January visit to Ottawa. But after seeing one thing, Peugh was hooked.
“The campus is really nice, but what sold me the most was their weightroom,” he said. “Oh my goodness, is it really nice.”
Almost brand new, Ottawa’s Surprise, Arizona campus opened in August 2017. The school’s football team is already an established power, winning the Sooner Athletic Conference last fall with a 7-1 record and going 9-2 overall, which includes a loss in the NAIA Football Championship Series and a No. 16 national ranking.
Despite joining a strong team,
Peugh said he expects to be on the field as a freshman.
“I talked to the coaches about that,” he said. “They want me to compete as much as I can over the summer because they plan on seeing me start at fullback.”
“We have a need at that position, kind of a fullback who can play multiple spots,” Nesbitt said. “A bigger-body guy, that’s something that we’re always looking for, too. Someone who can help on special teams. You can’t pass those up, especially when you’re such a young program.
“The two guys who played that for us the last two years both graduated, and we’ve got one returning freshman who redshirted last year, so this puts Kody in the mix right away. And it’s got to be a guy that has good enough hands coming out of the backfield, and he has to be a lead blocker. Those guys are hard to find.”
Peugh was the Trojans’ second-leading rusher as a senior, carrying 87 times for 494 yards and 4 touchdowns.
While Lauver, Martin and McDaniel had announced their choices previously, they took the opportunity to talk about their memories and to thank the people who helped them get to this point in their lives.
“I want to thank everyone who has supported me along the way, along with everyone who has doubted me,” said Lauver, who has a free ride to the College of Southern Nevada for softball. “Those who supported me helped me through hard times, and those who doubted me helped motivate me to prove them wrong.
“More than anything, I want to thank my dad. Without him, there is no way I’d be here right now. … He’s been coaching me since I was 10 or 11, and I can’t wait to see where this goes. I know he’s going to be there every game, every time I have a bad at-bat, looking over and saying, ‘Hey, this is what you’re doing wrong.’”
CSN softball coach Ashley Johnston, who already has welcomed one Pahrump Valley graduate to her program in Jackie Stobbe, raved about her latest Pahrump recruit.
“We are extremely excited about Skyler,” Johnston said. “She reminds me of myself as a player, very versatile and just a firecracker. We see Skyler splitting time with second base and the outfield. Her versatility really works to our advantage of being able to play her around the field where she is needed.
“She is very softball smart and is hungry to make every play. I love her speed and aggressiveness at the plate. She’s got a hot and solid bat for her size and ready to see where she will work herself in our lineup.”
Lauver plans to study business and has aspirations of coaching at the college level and opening a batting facility.
Martin had a long list of people to thank.
“I want to give a big thank you to two coaches who saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself six years ago when I decided to play softball,” said Martin, who will study radiology at Williston State College in North Dakota and plans to be a nuclear medicine specialist. “Thank you coach Rich and coach Cassondra Lauver. Coach Rich, I can’t wait to hear you yell, ‘You’ve got room’ and ‘That needs to be caught’ from the bleachers at Williston as I flip over the fence.”
Martin went on to thank her parents — “There never will be enough words to thank you for all you have done,” she said — her sister, her grandparents, coach Rodney DeTommaso of Impact Gold softball in Las Vegas and her teammates “who became my sisters.”
Williston State softball coach Rylee Hernandez is excited to have Martin on her roster.
“We see Terrena stepping in and making an instant impact in our program,” Hernandez said. “Her confidence and poise at the plate shines with every at-bat. We expect Terrena to step in and anchor our outfield with her tremendous work ethic, speed, and communication.
“We believe Terrena has what it takes to move our program forward athletically and academically in a positive way.”
McDaniel will play baseball at the NCAA Division II level for Southwest Minnesota State University, where he plans to major in physical education with a minor in coaching and prepare for being a graduate assistant while pursuing a master’s degree. If coaching is not in his future, he said he will follow his parents and grandparents into teaching.
McDaniel thanked pretty much everybody.
“Coach (Brian) Hayes, for showing me what it means to be a Trojan and a young man both on and off the field,” he began. “I’d also like to thank the people behind coach Hayes, his family. Thank you for sacrificing your time with Coach so he can be on the field with us. Coach Roy (Uyeno), putting in countless hours on the field. The average high school baseball player spends half of practice with a rake in his hands, but thanks to you we don’t have to do that, and it’s very appreciated.
“My teammates, thank you for all of the memories, from the bus rides to the overnight trips, even that one time when half of our team got suspended. Coach Drew (Middleton), you inspired me to pursue a coaching career, and you made me into the player I am today. You also taught me a valuable life skill, and that’s how to take a butt-chewing.”
He also thanked his brother, Kyle — “the best competition I could ever ask for” — and his parents, saying, “Nobody will ever understand the sacrifices both of you guys made to get me to this point. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to do what I wanted and for showing me how to be a great parent.”
Peugh thanked his family for the “countless hours they spent driving me to camps and to games. I don’t think they’ve missed many, and I started when I was 5.”
Peugh said his father, Lloyd, coached him from the time he was 5 all the way through middle school, when it was time to find new coaches. And he did.
“I look at all of my high school coaches as uncles,” Peugh said. “They were all hard on me, but at the end of the day it was worth it because it got me here. A big thank you to my teammates, giving me competition. Without them, I wouldn’t be up here signing.
“My time at PVHS has been great, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Even if I was offered to go play at Gorman my freshman year, I wouldn’t do it.”
Turner expressed gratitude to her family and her coaches at Pahrump Valley.
“I want to say thank you to my family,” she said. “They’ve given me so much faith and motivation to get to where I am right now. I want to thank my coaches, coach Colucci and coach Hopkins, for pushing me until I could barely feel my legs.”