Linfield has a long-standing tradition in athletics. People come from all around the world to be Wildcats. Zeroing in on McMinnville, it makes students wonder “why here?” What has made Linfield so special for athletes to choose a small, Division III college? Linfield is obviously not as big as Oregon State University or the University of Oregon. And though our sport teams are good, can we compare with these big schools and what they have to offer their athletes?
While Linfield has athletes from diverse backgrounds, the students who are from the area have planted their roots and continued to grow in Yamhill County, determining that there are plenty of reasons to go to school and compete in sports at Linfield.
Linfield has 19 varsity programs, in which 20 student athletes are from Yamhill County.
While not all 20 could be reached, five local athletes knew Linfield was right for them for a number of reasons.
Senior Nic Miles is from Amity, Ore. Traveling less than 15 minutes away, the cross country runner chose Linfield for the familiar team feeling that the Wildcats gave off.
“There’s something incredibly familiar about waking up and running here in McMinnville,” Miles said. “It feels like I’m back in Amity with my high school team. It was an easy adjustment to make. It also meant that I would have the opportunity to pursue other leadership roles, such as student government and Greek Life.”
Fellow runner and McMinnville local, senior Lucian Battaglia, also chose Linfield. Running long distance for the men’s cross country team and the men’s track and field team, Battaglia made the decision to go to Linfield based on the atmosphere and the small class sizes.
“The reality that I can continue cross country and track was definitely a plus,” Battaglia said. “I continued running for two reasons. The first was competing in a sport is a great way to make friends.
The second was I knew I could be of help to the team and that was enough for me to join the team. [I had heard that] the cross country and track program at Linfield were superb with Garry Killgore, and I still think it is top quality.”
Sophomore Victoria Thompson hails from nearby Newberg, Ore. The volleyball player had similar reasons to Battaglia for choosing to be a Wildcat, but the ultimate deciding factor was her family.
“Having [my family] being able to watch me play means the world to me and them,” Thompson said. “Other than Minnesota, my mom has yet to miss a game.”
A member of the men’s basketball team, sophomore Brandon Harris stayed in his hometown to attend Linfield, making the decision to stay based on the fact that Linfield had everything he wanted.
“I chose Linfield because of its academics and the fact that it had the right program for me and the major that I wanted to pursue,” Harris said. “Also, I wanted to continue to play basketball in college, and I knew that Division III would give me the best opportunities. I already had a relationship with Coach Doty, so I knew that he would give me an opportunity and that I would enjoy playing for a familiar and experienced coach.”
While the appealing campus and warm atmosphere was what sophomore Lauren Sherrard was looking for, she chose Linfield to be close to her home and family in Newberg, Ore. The basketball player has built a community of Linfield, building her connection to the area even more.
“I made my decision to come to Linfield for a few reasons,” Sherrard said. “I fell in love with the campus and the atmosphere. I liked the small class sizes and the close-knit community feel.”
“But really one of the main reasons was that I wanted to stay close to home for my little brother,” Sherrard said. “He and I are really close and I wanted to be able to still be there for him.” While each student has a different reason for attending Linfield, these Wildcats have made it clear that this is where they belong.
Kaylyn Peterson can be reached at email@example.com