A.J. Silva is going to Montana State in Bozeman, Mont. as a kicker on the football team and Caitlyn Triplett is going to MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe, Kan. to continue cheerleading.
Silva, who made more of a mark on the gridiron as the Raiders gunslinging quarterback, made the decision to continue on to the next level as a kicker after his official visit with the Bobcats.
“It feels great,” Silva said. “There’s no more stress. I was kind of stressing hard before this visit because I didn’t know if I wanted to play quarterback or go on to kick. Then I went to Montana State and it kind of just fell into place. I just went up there and I fell in love with the place. I really think I’m going to be a better kicker in the long run than I ever would be as a quarterback, so I might as well pursue the dream and try to go big.”
Reed football coach Ernie Howren was happy with the choice that Silva made to continue on as a kicker.
“I was honest with him and suggested kicking, and I think some other people told him the same thing,” Howren said. “I think if his talents were going to translate at the next level, it was more so as a kicker as opposed to him at quarterback. I think that is just how good of a kicker he is because he’s such a great quarterback and I think he could have played at some level as a QB. But it just goes to show he definitely has some kicking talent.”
After graduation, Silva is excited to head up to Bozeman, Mont. and start his career with Montana State, especially when it comes to facing the hated Griz of rival Montana.
“The whole rivalry between Montana State and Montana is huge,” Silva said. “I’ve never seen a rivalry so great. I liked how every one of the town members was involved with the football team and were so passionate. They’re always going to the games. They sellout every one of their home games. It’s going to be cool to play in front of that many people. I’m excited. Adrenaline is only going to make me kick farther. So I can’t wait to see what it is like to play in front of 20,000 people.”
Silva’s parents, Jim and Lisa, were both ecstatic to see their son sign on the dotted line to become a member of the Bobcats.
“It’s amazing,” Jim Silva said. “I think every kid in here has that same dream and he’s getting lucky enough to be able to continue on. We’re extremely proud of him and I think everybody here is proud of him because they know what kind of kid he is. When he puts his mind to something, he goes out and gets it. He’s worked hard for this. He’s been doing this for a long time and it’s finally paying off for him. We’re extremely proud.”
For Triplett, who will become a Pioneer cheerleader, signing the letter of intent was a dream come true.
“Since freshman and sophomore year, I’ve wanted to be able to continue my education and to continue cheerleading,” Triplett said. “For a lot of cheerleaders, their cheerleading ends right after high school and I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to be original and continue after high school. So it feels amazing because I’ve gone through countless hours of applying to different cheer programs, so now I have somewhere to go and somewhere to continue on.”
Triplett’s mother, Shanae, was proud to see her daughter accomplish her goals.
“It’s hard to even find the right word,” Shanae Triplett said. “It’s been a lot of work and a lot of patience. She’s been cheering since she was eight and doing gymnastics since she was seven. So coming from there to where we are today, it’s just been such a long journey that I just can’t believe that it’s actually here. Being here, where we wanted to be forever, is just amazing and such a great opportunity for her. It’s just a great feeling.”
As for moving all the way to Kansas, Triplett is a little worried, but eager at the same time.
“It’s a little scary, I can’t lie,” Triplett said. “I’m nervous and excited all at once. It’s a very family-like atmosphere there though. They were very open to me when I visited, so I know it will be okay.”