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Former Placer stars quckly turn the page

PVL Pipeline
By: Dave Krizman Journal Sports Columnist
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Matt Ross and Laurel Odom are names still well remembered by Hillmen sports’ fans. The two names conjure of memories of multi-talented sports stars who wore the green and gold, and whose exploits on the athletic fields brought championships and stellar moments. Both graduated in 2009 and like so many other graduates, they have left the Auburn area. Yet, these two are representative of so many young people today. Today, they both stand at the intersection of the past and the future. Irwin Shaw, a famous American writer, wrote a fascinating short story entitled, “The Eighty-Yard run.” The theme of the short story reminds the reader that one can either look to the future or remain in the past. The protagonist in the story reaches the pinnacle of his life at a college football practice. During the practice, he breaks through for an 80-yard run. Every move he makes is perfect; every cut off a block he makes is perfect. For those fleeting few seconds, he plays the game of football perfectly. In the story, he later marries. But while his wife looks to the future, he can only remember that 80-yard run, and he lives in the past when, for a few seconds at practice, he was a star. Matt Ross was the consummate three-sport star at Placer. He was the starting quarterback for two years and led the football team to the Sac-Joaquin Section championship game his senior year. He was a starter on the basketball team for two years; he was brought up to the varsity baseball team as a freshman and started for four years. His final athletic moment at Placer was when he was the winning pitcher in the section championship game against El Dorado. He has fond memories of his days as a Hillmen. “I definitely enjoyed the camaraderie of each sport I played,” Ross said. “I had a ton of fun just hanging out with all of my teammates. Also, every coach brought something different that I liked.” Ross also remembers several special moments of athletic success. “My favorite memory from football is definitely the Colfax game my senior year. Just being rivals… made the win very special. My favorite baseball game was when we beat Oakdale to advance to the section title game.” Today, Ross is sophomore majoring in business finance at San Diego State University. “My time at SDSU has been great,” he said. “It was a definite change going from a school around 1,300 to one with over 35,000. I take academics more seriously now. I look at it as a challenge.” After graduating, Ross plans on attending law school. Laurel Odom was on the fast track for an athletic scholarship in soccer. She played for the area’s competitive soccer team and was at the various summer soccer camps being recruited. She also played high school basketball and played on the schools’ soccer team. Her dream of playing college soccer came to a sudden end when she blew out her knee her junior year, and any hopes of that scholarship ended, crumpled, along with her knee, on that field that fateful day. Today she is a nutrition major at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo. “I am absolutely loving living in the beautiful city of San Luis Obispo and attending Cal Poly,” she said She misses playing soccer, but Odom is infinitively wise beyond her years. “The transition from high school to college is massive,” she said. “First of all, school in now your life.” Most importantly, Odom made this comment which speaks volumes of her maturity. “At this point (realizing she would not receive a scholarship) I decided that it was more important to go to the school that I wanted to than to find a spot on a team for a school that I had no interest in.” Unlike the protagonist in the short story, these two former Hillmen are moving on just fine.