Published: April 13, 2014
Despite all those gutty performances that turned heads at Division I schools, from her 16 double-doubles to her reign in the state playoffs and the 4A quarterfinals last season, Palmer Ridge standout Ali Meyer stayed loyal to her first suitor.
She's not the first to do so.
On Wednesday, Meyer will sign with the first school she visited for basketball, D-II Colorado Christian University, joining other area talent such as former Palmer guard Taylor Torres, former Air Academy forward Kate Louthan and former St. Mary's guard Christina Whitelaw.
"I feel like I'd be the perfect spokeswoman for Division-II athletes, picking it over D-I," Meyer grinned. "I'm so humbled with all of the offers, but I am very happy with my choice."
The Bears senior eventually decided against a full-ride scholarship to Montana State, and didn't entertain interest from schools like Denver and Colorado State for long, to become the fourth player from Colorado Springs and fifth from the Southern Colorado region to join the Cougars' roster.
"CCU offered me a spot before my junior season. It was amazing," Meyer said. "I felt really humbled by that. I hadn't gotten any calls at that point from anybody, and I hadn't really even thought about my future in basketball at that point."
But CCU women's basketball coach Tim Hays had. The sixth-year coach of the Cougars makes no secret about his priority placed on recruiting in Southern Colorado, admitting to have "built a lot of the team's core with its talent."
In his second recruiting class, Hays nabbed his first "diamond in the rough" from the area, former Class 3A soccer and basketball standout Christina Whitelaw, who went on to be named the RMAC Player of the Year for the first time and RMAC Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive year as a sophomore during the Cougars' National Christian College Athletic Association national-title run in the 2011-2012 season.
She was only the second player in RMAC history to receive both awards in the same year.
"She was so good, and so good right away for us," Hays said. "So from then on, we definitely made a point in finding talent in Southern Colorado. And that's kind of been our staple."
Louthan and Brittany Hernandez of the then-state champion Kadets followed in 2012. So did Torres. And Pueblo South's Mikala Gordon, the 4A Player of the Year in 2012-13, continued the trend the year after.
All of them were made offers before their senior seasons, Hays said.
"We would have had a Southern Colorado starting five if Brittany hadn't left back to Florida and we didn't have some injuries along the way this year," Hays said. "Don't be surprised if half our roster is from Southern Colorado in a couple of years."
Meyer, who had coffee with Louthan and Torres before she made her final decision around the start of this past school year, will sign at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at Palmer Ridge High School.