By Cadet Diego Salido
One of the most repetitive questions I have been asked as a cadet is “Why are you at NMMI?”
Most people assume that I am a troublemaker and my parents sent me here to fix me, which is something that you will not find very often here at the Institute. Most of the people come here because of their own choice and because they are looking for a challenge. In my case, I came here following my brother’s example and his advice. He told me that it was the best choice I could make and that I would not regret it. I had to think about it for more than a year, and finally I decided that I wanted to accept the challenge. After my first year, the question became “Why did you stay” and the answer is really simple: I stayed because of the people–the family I found here, and the opportunity to be someone better. I do not regret a single thing since I got here and I have enjoyed my ride. I still have a year left until I graduate and I know that I will miss everything and everyone when I leave.
NMMI Sports Press
Cherish Sosi will set for Cumberland University, an NAIA school in Lebanon, Tenn.
“I picked the school because they have a very good pre-med program, and it’s on the east coast, sort of, so that allows me to travel more around the United States,” she said, noting the environment was a key factor as well. “It’s small, just like NMMI, and I just got so accustomed to how we do things here that the change over there won’t be as bad.”
The Mid-South Conference Phoenix are coached by Kathy Slaughter, who led her team to a 19-13, 5-8 record in 2016, ending the season in the quarterfinals of the conference championships.
Sosi, who hopes to study nursing, almost didn’t even make the NMMI squad. The West Jordan High School grad — she was a teammate with Bronco Maluhia Taula at the Utah school — was a setter, and Bronco coach Shelby Forchtner had already signed a setter. Sosi was offered a walk-on position, but didn’t want that.
Then, three days after arriving, the scholarship athlete left, and Sosi got the call.
“We asked Cherish if she wanted the scholarship and she took it,” Forchtner said. “She really needed work in terms of being a collegiate setter, but she was on the floor as a freshman. She was on the floor as a sophomore. She worked really, really, really hard in her offseason. Just in terms of strength and movement and set location and just kind of understanding our offense, so it was really good for us to get a kid in here who is a really good team player and who is energetic. People really like her and being around her, because she ran the floor well for two years. So it’s pretty exciting, when she really had hardly any options out of high school, to come here and then for her to be able to move on to the next level.”
Plus, she is a setter, which is Forchtner’s position, making the job that much harder.
“Setters have a tough road here just because that’s what I did,” the coach said. “I don’t think there’s ever been a setter who’s come through here who’s been, ‘Well, that was easy.’ We put a lot of responsibility on them. We consider them our quarterbacks. We really make them work way harder than the other people around them because of those things. So she has taken that job and that responsibility and me in stride, and most days still likes me. She’s just a great kid.”
That hard work paid off both in the trip to nationals in 2016 plus an All-Conference berth.
What was the biggest thing she learned from her coaches?
“Probably working on the basic fundamentals and techniques and getting those down and being able to implement them in every game,” Sosi said, while noting that hard work paid off elsewhere on campus as well.
“I think it helped with my work ethic and discipline, especially with volleyball and working out. Then the corps and respect and being able to manage my time better.”
While she won’t miss “waking up early,” she will miss her coaches and teammates, and Forchtner said the feeling is mutual.
“We’re losing someone who has been a huge part of our program for the last two years as an all conference setter And she’s just a really great person. She comes from a good family and everybody likes her. She’s the person who gets people hyped up before the game. She has a smile on her face when she’s playing; when I’m not yelling at her.”
NMMI Sports Press
Two NMMI cadets will be racing for the finish at four-year colleges next year.
Bronco cross country runners Katarzyna Rosikon and Valeriia Uvarova have signed their paperwork to run at the next level, and coach Jan Olesinski couldn’t be prouder.
“This is a good example of what NMMI is about,” he said. “We got these two girls, and from the first day they were focused. They had goals. They had a vision and look what happened. They are not the greatest runners; they are very good runners, but if you add the training; the habits; the discipline; adopting everything here, you see they turned out to be two very successful girls.”
Rosikon will be joining several other NMMI grads — including three volleyball players — at Delaware State University, a DI school in Dover, Del.
“It’s going to be five NMMI people over there, so I was like, ‘Wow!” Rosikon said. “I’m really excited.”
DSU has both cross country and indoor and outdoor track programs, and Rosikon will be competing in all three. She said their current focus is on recruiting distance runners — meaning she’ll fit in well — but that another factor in her decision was the quality of the overall athletic program.
The Polish national also sounds very impressed with coaches Damion Drummond and Gwen Davis, who coach all three teams.
“From what I see, they’re both not only really good coaches, but they also approach the athletes personally,” she said. “They’re just amazing.”
Add in a top-of-the-line nursing program — Rosikon is hoping to graduate with her nursing degree in two years — and the Hornets are a perfect fit.
And while Delaware State is a tough school — “It’s really competitive, but coach says we’re going to do just fine,” Rosikon said — she knows what she learned at NMMI will take her far.
“The things that I learned here at NMMI are just incredible,” the cadet captain and Troop commander said. “Starting from responsibilities as a student-athlete. Dealing with academics during the cross country season. Having these huge amount of responsibilities and dealing with them on a daily basis really taught me a lot. Also discipline. I think every cadet would tell you discipline,” she laughed.
“Waking up early every single day, having the right uniform on, leadership, leadership styles: what we learned in the corps will help us with teams in the future. Everything applies. That’s what NMMI teaches us and what we appreciate.”
Uvarova is also going to a school with the initials DSU, but in her case, it’s Delta State University in Cleveland, Miss.
A DII school in the Gulf South Conference, Uvarova was also impressed with her new coach, Doug Pinkerton.
“I really like the coach,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a really good experience to work with that coach, and also I think I’m going to get along with my future team.”
Uvarova will only run cross country, but is considering walking on to the swim team, and will be studying either physical therapy or nursing.
An Executive Officer with 62 members in her troop, the native of the Kyrgyz Republic also praised the Institute.
“NMMI gave me big opportunities,” she said, “as well as friendship, discipline and all these things I’m going to carry all my life. I feel it was the best decision in my life that I came to this school. I’m really grateful to all the staff, teachers and coaches that you guys were around me these two years. I’m excited to go to the next school, but for sure I’m going to miss NMMI a lot. I will try to visit as much as I can.”
Both girls laughed when asked what Olesinski taught them, but family was the key to the two seasons.
“It was really like a family on the cross country team, and I really appreciate what the coach did for me these past two years,” Uvarova said. “Im really thankful and grateful for him, because he is wonderful to give me this opportunity to start here.”
For Rosikon, those family ties were even closer. The two come from the same home town in Poland, and despite their age difference, were both coached by the same man.
Olesinski has no doubt both runners will succeed at their new schools.
“No question about it,” he said. “They will be the best students there. They work so hard. You have to understand, they came from a different country. They didn’t speak English well. Kasha spoke better. Valeriia’s English wasn’t the best, but from the very first they tried and look at them now. They speak almost better than I do.”
The NMMI coach spoke with both their new coaches, telling them they wouldn’t be disappointed.
“They won’t be your No. 1, 2 or 3 runners, but they’ll be your No. 4 runner and great teammates and the best students on your team,” he said.
As far as replacing them on the national-caliber Bronco team, Olesinski said that’s not possible.
“Everybody who comes to the Institute and goes through the program is special,” he said. “You can’t say you replace them; somebody always comes after them and somebody always comes before them and I will remember them forever. Because they are special.”
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Katie Campbell, a 5-foot-9 outside hitter from Dumas, Texas, signed with DII Montana State University-Billings, while 5-4 libero Maluhia Taula from West Jordan, Utah, and 6-3 middle hitter Aleksandra Bilić from Croatia both signed with Delaware State University, a DI school in Dover, Del.
While each has been with NMMI for two years, “They’re all three very talented kids in very different aspects,” said head coach Shelby Fortchner.
Campbell chose MSU-Billings because of the atmosphere.
“It’s in the mountains,” the Texas native said. “It was just beautiful, even though there was a bunch of snow on the ground.”
She’ll be playing with another former Bronco, Lexaris De Jesus, who graduated from NMMI in 2016, as well as a former Dumas High School teammate, who’s coming on as a freshman.
Campbell said the character of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference school was another attraction.
“How the girls treated me and the atmosphere and just everything about it,” she said. “They were caring and family oriented.”
Fortchner said Campbell, who she called a “six-rotation outside hitter,” will be missed in Cahoon Armory.
“Not only was she good at volleyball, she has a very strong passion for the game, which is going to be really hard to replace,” the coach said. “She is a kid who practices exactly how she plays, and that energy and that enthusiasm and that love of the game is really hard to find in kids every single day. You have gamers and you have some kids who practice way better than they play and Katie is just steadfast. She wants to win every point; she’s aggressive every point and it’s going to be hard to lose a kid like that, because she has contributed so much in the two years she’s been here.”
As a sophomore, Campbell averaged 2.6 points per set, including 2.19 digs per set and 1.99 kills per set. She posted six double-doubles, and had a season-best 20 digs on Sept. 10 against Barton. She reached her season high of 13 kills on three occasions, including a 13-kill, 16-dig performance against Western Texas on Sept. 21 in one of her top games of last fall.
She earned all-conference honors in the Western Junior College Athletic Conference both years, and Forchtner expects her to step into the Yellowjacket program and contribute from the start.
As to what NMMI gave back to her, Campbell echoed what many other cadets have said.
“Definitely your time management with the Corps of Cadets, because you’ve got to get your time right or you’ll get in trouble, either with the coaches or with your troop,” she laughed.
And the coaches, she said, helped her believe in herself.
Taula and Bilić will be joining former Bronco setter Gabriella Enriquez on the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Hornets, a team that struggled a bit in 2016 under first-year head coach Whitney Johnson.
Still, both agree Johnson is a big reason they picked DSU.
“I think the coach and I had a really good connection from the get-go,” Taula said.
“I really like the coach,” Bilić echoed. “She’s really similar to coach Shelby in that she’s really caring and I feel like she’s going to be my third mom, because coach Shelby was the second.”
Both also agreed that getting to play with Enriquez was a plus, while Taula said the academic program was very responsive to the athletic department and Bilić was impressed with the campus.
“The school is is just gorgeous,” she said. “Everywhere they took me had a really nice atmosphere. Plus, it’s two hours closer to home and I like to travel, so it’s close to Washington D.C., New York and Philadelphia. And the ocean.”
Taula, who will graduate as a second lieutenant, said the NMMI coaches helped her gain confidence as a player and a person.
“The school taught me discipline and to never give up, even though it was hard,” she said. “I think the coaches (Forchtner, current assistant coach Alonso Ibarra and former assistant Tara Bisch) helped me at lot. And I think the girls also. Like the friendship and making those bonds that you’re going to have for a long time.”
“Mia is a kid who’s just an absolute joy to have around,” Forchtner said. “She’s a phenomenal teammate. She came into this situation with some personal issues, like we didn’t even know if we were going to get her in August, but to see her go from not even a starting role to be our starting libero at the national tournament this year, she has just worked and worked and worked and worked. So to be able to watch her contribute to our program for two years and then turn around and get a scholarship for the next two years is a pretty cool thing.”
And she’ll also be missed, the coach said.
“She is such a contributor off the floor that we’re going to miss that big time,” Forchtner said. “She is like a little mother hen and she makes people happy. She’s got people dancing and singing before games. So that energy that she brings to the table all the time is going to be really hard to replace.”
Bilić, who worked her way through the ranks as a squad leader, platoon leader and executive officer, said NMMI gave her a chance to hone her leadership skills as well as work with others in a non-athletic capacity.
The first lieutenant also said she learned a lot from her coaches.
“The coaches helped me a lot with my attitude, because I’m kind of an overconfident person and I’m kind of independent and I don’t really work well with a lot of people,” she said. “And because I play a team sport, I struggled a lot with communicating with people. I would yell. I would be aggressive. So they tried to calm me. They were not really, really successful because I’m just that type of person. I’m hard to change, but I think they did an amazing job. And I feel the difference. I’m a little bit of a different person.”
“Like she said, she’s a little bit stubborn, but the fact is she would actually listen,” Forchtner said. “She’s been trying for two years to make the adjustment to be a better teammate. Because she didn’t have to make a lot of adjustments as far as her confidence, but there were times that it was hard for her to play with others and them to play with her. So that was a constant challenge, and I think we overcame that.”
All three had to overcome a rough freshman year — which included a bus accident that eliminated several weeks from the season — so to get an upset win in regionals and return to the national tournament as sophomores was a big plus.
“Technically, we probably had a just as good if not better team last year with all the stuff we went through, so it’s really good for these kids to see they could pull through something like that and transition into a really solid year this year. So we’re excited for all of them.”
As far as their futures beyond college, Campbell and Taula are still undecided about what they want to do, while Bilić will be earning a degree in hotel and restaurant management.
NMMI Sports Press
On Tuesday, hot hitting helped the NMMI Colt baseball team take a pair of away games vs. the Eunice Cardinals. The Colts collected 27 hits en route to a 14-6 win in Game 1, and a 21-7 win in Game 2.
Of those 27 hits, 15 were for extra bases, including nine doubles, a triple, and five homeruns – with each homerun hit by a different NMMI player.
Connor Roe’s dinger came first, a two-run shot to straightaway center in the first inning of Game 1. Michel Hinojos made it back-to-back bombs just two pitches later. Gavin Maloney hit the game’s final four-bagger for a pair of insurance runs in the top of the seventh.
In Game 2, Alejandro Lopez’s longball came during his second at-bat, helping sustain a 6-run second inning. Jake Guerrero had the last blast, a solo shot to start off the top of the fourth.
Hinojos was the G1 winning pitcher. He gave up nine hits and six runs (five earned) over 4.1 innings, with 3 strikeouts.
Guerrero got credit for the win in G2. He gave up five runs (only two earned) off four hits during 3.2 innings, while striking out seven.
Jasper Best closed out both games, allowing no runs and just two hits through 2.2 innings in Game 1; and two hits, two runs over 1.1 innings in Game 2.
With the wins, NMMI moves to 14-3-1 on the season. They’ll have the weekend off and will next face Portales in a three-game district series at home, beginning on Friday, April 21 at 4:00 pm.