Missouri State University athletics will have a pretty strong Cowichan Valley flavour this coming school year.
Two Cowichan Field Hockey players — Beth Corish and Marina Ellison — will join the Missouri State Bears this fall, while runner Chicago Bains will suit up for the Missouri State track and field team, joining her longtime friend and training partner from the CVAC Jaguars, Taryn Smiley, who began her collegiate career last year.
Corish played three years for Cowichan Secondary, graduating in 2015 after helping the Thunderbirds to two Island championships and three provincial tournament appearances. She was first spotted by the Missouri State coaches at a tournament in California, and was thrilled to lock up a scholarship earlier this year.
“I’ve been trying to get it for a while now,” she said. “It’s a long process, trying to get a scholarship. As long as I can remember it’s been a dream of mine.”
Missouri State head coach Catherine Ostoich was pleased to land Corish.
“It was great to add an international athlete like Beth to our team,” she told the Bears’ website. “She has some really nice, tight stick skills and her aggression is unmatchable. She really works to create opportunities for her teammates in the attacking zone, which I think will be huge for our team this fall.”
Ellison graduated from Frances Kelsey Secondary this year after helping lead the Breakers to a best-ever sixth-place finish at the provincial AAA championships last fall. Later this month, Ellison will play for the B.C. provincial team at the national U18 championships in Ontario.
Ostoich was also excited to add Ellison.
“I’m excited to bring in another international player, especially one that really knows the game like Marina,” she said. “You can tell by her stick skills and her passing ability that she really understands the game. I expect her to bring that knowledge to our current team members and challenge the level of play this fall.”
Ellison considered playing for a Canadian school, but opted to go stateside because of the better scholarship opportunities.
“I got accepted to all the schools I applied for here,” she said. “But I really wanted to go to the U.S.”
Bains is a two-time Island and B.C. champion in the 100m hurdles, and helped Cowichan Secondary’s 4x100m girls relay team to three consecutive Island and provincial titles, finishing up this year. Smiley was her teammate on the first two of those 4x100m championship teams.
For Corish and Ellison, Missouri State had everything they were looking for as student-athletes.
“You can tell when you go down there that they’re very into athletics as well as academics,” Corish said. “The facilities are beautiful. Every sport has its own specific facilities.”
Corish said she had spoken to Smiley — who was in her graduating class — a couple of times before making her decision.
“It’s going to be nice to have a friendly face down there, for sure,” she said.
Located in Springfield, Mo., a couple of hours from Kansas City, Missouri State is going to be a far cry from the Cowichan Valley, needless to say.
“It’s going to be a huge change,” Ellison said.
“It’s different,” Corish added. “Even just flying in, there are no mountains. It’s just flat.”
Academics was an important consideration for both field hockey players as they decided where to play. Corish, who wants to work in the justice system, was looking for a school with a good criminology program, while Ellison, who will be undeclared in her first year, is interested in pursuing biology.
“Every school has general studies and biology, so I looked into their research opportunities and funding,” she explained.
The Missouri-bound athletes will be heading south soon, as the field hockey preseason starts Aug. 12.