TTHS valedictorian onto Ivy League, Div. I soccer
A 4.19 grade point average. Valedictorian of her graduating class. Acceptance to Yale University.
And, last but not least, 72 career goals.
It all adds up to one thing – Tahoe-Truckee High School graduating senior Shannon Baker-Branstetter has an excellent chance to become the first female Wolverine soccer player to go on to play NCAA Division I soccer.
“For sure, Shannon’s the first player we’ve had to go onto Division I soccer,” said Truckee coach Doug Roberts. “She’ll do fine at the Division I level; she has the field vision and skills to play at that level, plus she’s mentally tough and not afraid of tough competition.”
Baker-Branstetter, 18, was offered soccer scholarships to several colleges in Oregon, but she decided to attend Yale, located in New Haven, Conn., after visiting the campus last summer. (In addition to Yale, she was also accepted at Cornell, Oregon State, Duke, UC-Berkeley and UCLA.) Yale is a member of the Ivy League, which includes Cornell, Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Brown, Penn and Dartmouth as well as Yale.
Unfortunately for Baker-Branstetter, the Ivy League is the only Division I League in the country which doesn’t offer athletic scholarships, meaning that Baker-Branstetter will have to pay her own tuition.
“I liked the small atmosphere of Yale and the professors are incredible,” said Baker-Branstetter, who is planning to major in archeology. “And I also liked the fact I’d have a chance to play soccer.”
A position on the Bulldog varsity isn’t guaranteed for Baker-Branstetter – she’ll have to “walk-on” the team and try-out. But Roberts said that Baker-Branstetter should have no trouble making the team as a halfback, a change in position from her usual forward slot.
“In college, Shannon should become a halfback; it’s her best position – she’s a natural,” Roberts said. “If she works on her heading and aggressiveness, she’ll have a good chance to start.”
Baker-Branstetter agreed that she’d probably move to halfback in college. In preparation for the season, she’s planning on “buffing up” and adding five pounds of muscle to her 5’7″, 125-pound frame.
“Soccer in college is really physical,” Baker-Branstetter said. “It doesn’t matter how good your foot skills are in college if you’re pushed off the ball every time.”
Baker-Branstetter said she anticipates Yale’s soccer games will be exciting and tension-filled against the Bulldogs’ Ivy League rivals.
“The intensity level will be even higher than a Truckee-North Tahoe game,” she said.
Baker-Branstetter leaves for Yale in mid-August. During the summer, she’ll be working for Truckee-Donner Recreation and Park Department as a camp counselor.
Even if her soccer career doesn’t take off at Yale, Baker-Branstetter might become famous in another sport – crew.
“I’m definitely going to find the time to try that sport,” she said.
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