Multitalented athlete to join former teammate Kellie Krueger

by: GREG ARTMAN - Nicole Gearhart plans to join former Wilsonville teammate Kellie Krueger on the UC Colorado Springs women's basketball team.Nicole Gearhart had the itch.

A multitalented athlete who chose to attend Oregon State after graduating from Wilsonville in 2012, she said an assortment of factors led her to transfer to UC Colorado Springs and nudged her back into sports.

She initially thought she might be able to satisfy her penchant for competition by playing for the Beavers softball team. But she had trouble trying to join as a walk-on.

In addition, Gearhart said, she was inspired by her older brother, Seth, after watching him play on the men’s basketball team at Rice University.

Another issue was that, although Gearhart was studying bioengineering in Corvallis, she didn’t feel busy.

“I just felt like I had a lot of spare time,” she said.

Some of that spare time was spent playing recreational basketball at the gym, a sign to Gearhart in and of itself. And some of it was spent watching former Wildcats teammate Kellie Krueger play on the team at Colorado Springs.

“I thought it would be a fun thing to do, so I talked to her a little bit,” Gearhart said. “And she got me talking to the coach.”

Those conversations sparked the revival of Gearhart’s basketball career, which began when she joined a co-ed team in 1st grade and continued with several playoff runs at Wilsonville. She made the all-league first team as a senior.

And after a year without competitive basketball, the 5-foot-7 wing plans to join the Mountain Lions as a walk-on this season. Gearhart said she’ll have to work hard to adjust to the speed of the college game.

“Everybody knows what to do at all times,” she said. “Everybody else is going to be on point, so I’ll need to get there, too.”

Gearhart, who lettered in three sports other than basketball in high school, seems to have the tools to do just that.

In soccer, she earned second-team all-league honors as a senior forward. In track, she captured a district title in the girls 200-meter dash as a freshman and qualified for the OSAA championships as a sprinter and relay racer. In softball, she received first-team all-league recognition twice as an outfielder and recorded a .391 batting average as a junior.

And her detour to the Centennial State doesn’t seem all that surprising considering the fact that she looked at several universities in Colorado as a high school senior.

What kept her away initially was her interest in bioengineering, a relatively specialized field that is not featured at many colleges.

But she has since switched her academic focus to electrical engineering, and she’s hoping to transfer as many of her Oregon State credits as she can to Colorado Springs.

She’s also looking forward to playing alongside Krueger, her longtime next-door neighbor in Wilsonville.

“We didn’t play sports together until high school, but we’ve always been pretty good friends,” Gearhart said.

“It’ll make the transition a lot smoother. It’ll be nice to know somebody. And it’ll be fun to play against (former teammate and current Colorado State Pueblo wing Emily Dungey).”

Added Krueger: (Gearhart) just wanted to experience a different state, and she just missed sports. We lived next door to each other for like 12 years. And she’s really outdoorsy, so I know she’ll love Colorado.”

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