TWIN FALLS — Before Caitlin Crist signed with Walla Walla Community College on Monday, her coaches and parents gave a few words. Her club swim coach Tracy Clark was the first to speak, and he finished his speech with a remark that drew laughs from the crowd.
“You’ll actually have to narrow it down to sports now,” Clark said to Crist.
Crist, a senior at Canyon Ridge High School, signed in front of family and friends Monday in the Canyon Ridge cafeteria. She’ll head to Walla Walla, Wash., in the fall, and she plans to play soccer and softball for the Warriors. Crist will join exclusive company as a two-sport collegiate athlete, but her college athletic experience will seem light compared to her time at Canyon Ridge.
Crist has played five sports during her four years at Canyon Ridge — basketball, soccer, softball, swimming and water polo. She didn’t swim or compete in water polo as regularly as she did the other three, but she committed to all of them at various points. This past fall, she led the Riverhawks’ girls soccer team to the 4A state tournament while balancing practice and meets during the first state-sanctioned swim season. She’s currently pouring in points for the girls basketball team.
Crist was happy to play all of those sports, but she was ready to focus on one in college, and softball was going to be her choice. She’s always loved the sport, and she has been a star shortstop for years. She drew interest from Idaho State and College of Idaho, among other softball programs, she said.
But a couple months ago, shortly after she committed to Walla Walla CC for softball, she felt a void.
“After soccer ended, I decided I was really gonna miss it,” Crist said Monday. “I don’t want to give it up yet.”
She asked her Walla Walla CC softball coach if she could also pursue soccer, and she was granted permission. She then got in touch with Walla Walla CC’s soccer coach, who had seen her play at the state soccer tournament in Caldwell. Soon, Crist had a second scholarship offer.
Crist said the two scholarships combine to equal a full-ride, which certainly contributed to her decision to choose Walla Walla CC. But she also liked the safety she felt when she visited the campus, and Walla Walla is a comfortable distance away from Twin Falls (not too close, not too far).
By the time she starting looking into playing sports at the next level, basketball was not a serious consideration.
“I used to be really into basketball. I was thinking I was gonna go to college for it,” Crist said. “I love doing it, but it’s just not my passion anymore.”
Abandoning basketball and the two water sports won’t be easy, she said, but she knows it would have been unrealistic to continue playing them at the college level. For most college athletes, playing two sports is unrealistic.
“I’ll definitely miss a lot of sports,” she said, “but I’m ready to hone in on those sports.”