Jodi Thomasian, a 2018 graduate of The Dalles High School, found herself in the same situation as so many other young people who were anticipating that graduation walk this summer. Her plan was to graduate from Clark College in June with her associate degree in Liberal Arts and then transfer to a four-year college to complete her bachelor’s degree. But that all changed with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the abrupt end to the school year for graduating seniors and college students.
Thomasian was a dedicated varsity basketball, softball and volleyball player all through high school; she was also on the varsity cheerleading squad for a season. An excellent student and athlete, she enjoyed the sports she played, but softball was her niche, where she played second base and shortstop. Planning on a career in the dental hygiene field and even at one time contemplating becoming an orthodontist, she vetted colleges that would afford her the ability to play sports, provide some type of scholarship assistance and offer the academic classes required to pursue her profession. She applied to a number of schools around the Pacific Northwest and finally landed on Clark College in Vancouver. It provided what she was looking for, was close to home and she would be playing basketball and softball.
After graduation, she and her high school classmates, many of whom had been friends all through school, some as far back as elementary, began to prepare for their journeys to colleges in other states, each traveling much farther away than Thomasian. Was it tough to go your separate ways? “Not really,” said Thomasian. “We all stayed in touch through social media and live-chatted almost every week. And now we are all back in The Dalles for the summer.”
Once at Clark, she played basketball and softball while maintaining her honors grades. “It was a lot of hard work at times, playing two sports and trying to keep my grades up,” she said, “but I did it."
With Vancouver only an hour and a half away, Thomasian’s family were frequent attendees at her games. “That was pretty special being able to have my family come to see me play. There were a lot of girls on my teams who were from California and Alaska, as well as other places that were not close. My family became a cheer squad for a lot of them whose families lived too far away to attend.”
When the COVID-19 crisis hit and all schools shut down, it became clear to her she’d be missing softball season. “My biggest disappointment was the pandemic situation curtailing my final season of softball at Clark. That was really tough.” Thomasian came back to The Dalles and prepared to complete her degree online.
She also had to make a decision about where to transfer once schools reopened. She had had a change of heart with regard to her career path. “Becoming an orthodontist required too many years of college and training,” said Thomasian. Instead, she decided to pursue physical therapy and kinesiology, the study of the mechanics of body movements. “It is something I had always been interested in and there were a number of colleges that offered the degree, so I began to look at those,” she said. “But I also wanted to attend a school where I could play softball.” She had originally decided not to pursue sports in her final stint of college, but focus on her academics instead. “I was facing a lot of work and classes and I knew I wasn’t going to professionally pursue sports as a career, so it seemed like a good time to end that part of my life and start a new one,” she said. But that soon changed.
She had begun the process of looking at transfer colleges earlier in the year and had been scouted by several, including a college in Canada. Switching gears once again, she decided she wanted to continue to play softball because of her missed final season. Once she came home, she began to narrow down her choices. Would it be college in Canada? George Fox? Warner Pacific? All had some or every aspect she was looking for.
Thomasian, daughter of Craig and Connie Thomasian and sister of Piper, of The Dalles, announced two weeks ago that she had signed with San Diego Christian College, where she will play softball and pursue her degree. She received an academic scholarship and she will enter as a junior in August.
“I’m really excited to be going to San Diego. I know it’s 17 hours away and I won’t have the luxury of having my family come see me play, but they live-stream their games through the NAIA app, so at least they will have that,” she said. “San Diego is in the Golden State Athletic Conference, so we will play in Medford as well.
“I’m excited to be striking out on my own more; this seems like a great choice for me. I’m very independent and not really worried about leaving home for the first time. I’ve always wanted to go to San Diego, and we have relatives in Berkley which is where I was born, and where my father is from,” said Thomasian. “I have a bucket list already started!”