BY KEVIN BONESKE
Three Rhinelander High School seniors have made their plans to play college sports official.
Erica Counter, Tyler Blomdahl and Alexx Knapp signed letters of intent Wednesday during a formal ceremony in the RHS Digital Media Center.
Counter has decided to play women’s tennis at Marian University, an NCAA Division III school in Fond du Lac that is part of the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference.
A four-year tennis player in high school, Counter, who last fall was named to the Great Northern Conference’s second team in No. 1 doubles along with Ali Schickert, credits Hodags head tennis coach Bob Heideman for her development in the sport.
“He’s kind of made me the player that I’ve been, which means a lot to me,” Counter said.
Heideman said Counter was willing to put in the time and effort to develop her playing skills.
“I think that those habits and the skills that (Counter has) will serve her well at the next level,” Heideman said. “I’m anxious to see how she does, because we don’t get a lot of tennis players going to play in college.”
Counter, who noted she is considering either nursing or dentistry for her college studies, said she expects to be playing both singles and doubles tennis at Marian University.
“Tennis is not quite the same in high school than it is in college – which I learned when I was visiting there – it kind of surprised me a lot…,” Counter said. “If I were to be (playing) doubles, you’re not going to always have the same doubles partner. You’re going to have to work with everyone on the team, because it gets switched around a lot.”
Blomdahl, a three-sport athlete in football, hockey and baseball at RHS, has decided to join the football program at the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie, an NCAA Division III school that is part of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Blomdahl, who is considering mechanical engineering but is undecided at this point on a major at UW-Stout, credits RHS head coach Chris Ferge as well as assistant coaches on the football team for helping him develop his skills and continue playing football at the college level.
“We’re proud of Tyler, and he’s grown a lot in the last year,” Ferge said. “He has an opportunity to play football at a very high level.”
Last fall, Blomdahl was a unanimous first-team all-conference selection on the defensive line in the GNC. When he moves on to the college level, however, he noted that because of his size he will be placed at a linebacker position.
“For me, I would be – for the size I am – a little undersized to be playing defensive or offensive line like I did in high school,” Blomdahl said. “When I went on my visit (at UW-Stout)…I told them I would much rather play defense than offense, so they were going to put me at one of the linebackers.”
Knapp, who played three years of high school volleyball for the Hodags and has also been part of the RHS Dance Team, will be joining the women’s volleyball program at Northland College, an NCAA Division III school in Ashland that is part of the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference.
Though she has been a setter in high school, because of the number of setters Northland College already has on the team she said she expects to be positioned as a defensive specialist.
“I was a setter in high school, but on a team of eight girls there’s already four setters, so I’m assuming I’m going to be a defensive specialist, because you can’t have too many setters,” Knapp said.
As a psychology major in college, Knapp said she wants to go to medical school eventually and become a forensic psychiatrist.