Camas High School Seniors Brady Ellis and Jake Bilsborough recently committed this past month to play soccer at Ottawa University in Surprise, Arizona. Ellis committed on January 6th and Bilsborough committed on January 12th.
Bilsborough first picked up the game when he was four years old. His older brother and sister both played so he decided to follow in their footsteps.
When Ellis was younger, his dad really encouraged him to play sports, so he chose soccer. He knew it was something he wanted to keep playing after he received a jersey from the Portland Timbers center-midfielder Diego Chara.
“When I was younger, he gave me his soccer jersey and that really encouraged me to keep playing soccer,” Ellis said.
Both of them have older brothers who are currently playing at the college level.
Despite the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic placed on college recruiting, both Ellis and Bilsborough did not let get in the way of achieving their dreams.
Ellis was actively getting in touch with coaches through the Next College Student Athlete (NCSA) organization.
He said, “I used the app NCSA, so I just emailed college coaches and they always got back to me, like offering if I was an option for their school or not. That’s how I knew what colleges were best for me.”
Since Washington state and Oregon have been under strict safety measures since the start of the pandemic, Ellis and Bilsborough have been unable to play in front of college coaches.
Finally, after months of waiting for an opportunity to showcase their abilities they caught a break.
Their club team with the Washington Timbers Football Club made the trip to the Surf Cup in Arizona. Down there college coaches were able to attend games and meet with players.
Before making the trip to the desert, both Ellis and Bilsborough made sure they reached out to coaches who they knew would be there.
Bilsborough said, “I looked through the list of schools that were going, and then I looked through the list of rosters to see if they needed a keeper. I looked at the campuses and picked out the ones that I liked.”
He ended up reaching out to six or seven schools from all over the United States, including some as far away from home as Vermont.
During their time in Arizona, Ellis and Bilsborough went on a tour of Ottawa University, which they immediately felt a connection to.
“I think both of us like the atmosphere of the school. It’s like 800 kids and 70% play sports. Everyone is kind of there with the same interests and looking to work towards the same thing. I think we both were attracted to that,” Bilsborough said.
He added, “The soccer facility and the weight room, it was really nice. It’s not what you’d expect from a school with 800 kids. It was really really nice.”
Since it is an NAIA school, they like how the program is run and believe it will be the best fit for them.
Ellis said, “There’s two teams. We’re actually getting playing time on the second team before moving to the first team. We’re getting to know what college level is like.”
Being able to get a feel for the college game and get playing time right away is something that was on top of their agenda. Another thing at the top of their priority list was the academic side of things.
Bilsborough is interested in business and psychology and Ellis is interested in business management. Ottawa offers all of those things, so they are excited about the educational experience they will have there as well.
When they toured the campus earlier this month there were no current players on campus. Fortunately, they plan to go back down there again soon.
Ellis said, “We’re going back in February for a soccer tournament and I think we might tour it again. They’re going to have practices and they might want us to play,”
Ellis and Bilsborough are not the only CHS teammates to play club soccer together. Fellow CHS Seniors Noah Frazier, Ethan Jud, Mark Robinson, and Wilson Fresh are on the same club team. They all expressed their excitement and support for their teammates committing to play at the next level.
Frazier said, “I wish them nothing but the best. They both work very hard in training every day. Hopefully they have long and successful college careers.”
Jud said, “I am very happy for them and I wish them the best of luck. I think they will do a great job. I hope they are able to get a good education while also contributing to help their new team win on the field.”
Robinson said, “I am very excited to see Jake and Brady go on and play soccer in college. I hope they reach their goals and enjoy their time playing.”
Fresh said, “I hope they take this opportunity and use it to its full potential. Whatever goals they have I certainly want them to be achieved. Whether that be becoming a starter, scoring goals, or keeping clean sheets, anything is possible if they continue to work hard.”
Soccer has always been a big part of their lives so being able to continue their careers while receiving a college education is a dream come true for them.