Five-time state wrestling champion Zachary Van Alst (podium) and softball pitcher Michaelyn Foster (left table, middle) signed scholarships during at special ceremony at Montgomery Catholic on Tuesday. (Staff Photo)
By Tim Gayle
(November 17, 2016)
A pair of Catholic athletes chose different paths when deciding on a future in college athletics.
Zachary Van Alst, a five-time state championship wrestler, decided to travel across the country and accept a scholarship offer from the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Spring, Colo., while Catholic pitcher Michaelyn Foster elected to stay close to home and continue her collegiate career at Auburn University Montgomery.
The pair signed letters of intent on Tuesday afternoon in the school library.
“It’s been a long day coming, but it’s really exciting to be joining the Air Force family,” Van Alst said. “It’ll be good to be there with some of my friends that are already there and be with Coach (Sam) Barber, who is an amazing coach.”
He made the announcement in front of family and fellow students and was joined by his parents Bob and Jennifer Van Alst, while Foster signed her letter of intent as her mother Chastity Foster looked on.
“It’s a dream come true,” Michaelyn Foster said. “I’ve waited for it a long time. It’s awesome.”
Foster arrived on campus as a sophomore and will start her third season with the Knights in the spring as a pitcher and utility player after earning all-state honors the past two seasons. She started her sophomore career with the East Montgomery Dixie Softball League while in kindergarten and also plays basketball at Catholic while maintaining a 3.5 grade-point average.
“I had some other offers, but ultimately AUM was the best fit for me,” she said. “I felt the most at home there. I mean, I’m close to home so that makes sense but it was like another home. It was just a good fit.”
Foster said AUM coach Eric Newell had recruited her to pitch, but she would enter the program with an open mind.
“I think I’m going to pitch and maybe play some other positions,” she said, “but I’m really just going to do whatever he needs me to do.”
Van Alst is about to start his sixth year as a wrestler with the Knights, having compiled a 233-12 record over the past five years while winning the state title each year, including a 2016 title in the 132-pound weight class.
A member of the National Honor Society with a 3.88 grade-point average, he was selected as an All-American for Roman Greco wrestling in both 2015 and 2016.
While a career in the Air Force runs in the family, Van Alst said he hasn’t decided on a career just yet. The thought of being a pilot is intriguing, but he said he may major in civil engineering. He decision to continue wrestling at Air Force, he added, was more a part of the recruiting process and less a career in the military.
“The education is definitely top-notch, but it’s like a close-knit family with all of the Air Force people,” he said. “I felt more comfortable on their campus. That was pretty much the deciding factor.”