Hershey was a key contributor to Lynden’s state title run in the 2019-20 season. She’ll be suiting up for Wenatchee Valley College this winter. (Hailey Palmer/Lynden Tribune)

Practices have started at Wenatchee Valley College 

WHATCOM ­— Recent Lynden High graduate Keylie Hershey is finally getting a chance to play basketball with some new faces. She didn’t play travel ball growing up ­— she’s always just played with her Lynden team.

Hershey is now over in Wenatchee getting ready for her first college season at Wenatchee Valley College.

After a mandatory two-week quarantine, Hershey was able to hit the court this week for a first round of practices. 

Other than the obvious social distancing and cleaning measures in place for COVID-19, Hershey said, it all feels the same to her.

“We have to wear a mask if we’re within close range of each other,” she said. “We have to social distance and clean after practice and just be more aware of things. It’s a little weird and takes some getting used to, but it feels good to be back out on the court. If I have to wear a mask to go practice, I’m going to do it.”

The team has slowly added more girls to each practice, so it’s starting to feel like a full team, Hershey said.

She hasn’t seen or experienced much of the college game pace yet. But the reigning Associated Press Class 2A state Player of the Year from 2019-20 said there’s a different kind of passion to it.

"In high school, everyone wants to be there, but in college everyone really wants to be there,” Hershey said. “You’re either on a scholarship or here trying to prove yourself. It was always high intensity with Lynden because that’s just our culture, but here it’s your job. It’s more of a business type of thing, but it’s still a lot of fun. We’re still having fun, but you can tell it’s like a workplace environment.”

Not even knowing if she’d be able to go to college this fall because of the pandemic, Hershey said she spent most of her summer just trying to get time in the gym.

“I got lucky with the high school for a few weeks,” she said. “A lot of it was just training on your own and hoping we could still come to college. It was pretty slow for me this summer, but I had some opportunities to get in the gym and play pick-up and stuff like that.”

At the moment, Hershey doesn’t have any concrete goals for the season. She’s just hoping there is a season.

“I’m just excited to get out there and do something different because my whole life it’s just been my Lynden team,” Hershey said. “I’m super excited to play with girls I’ve never played with before and play with some girls I’ve played against. I’m just excited to start. I don’t really have anything in mind except actually having a season.”

The WVC Knights team went 21-9 last year with an 11-5 record in the Northwest Athletic Conference before the postseason was canceled in March. 

Hershey’s options after this season are wide open. She was a Running Start student at Whatcom Community College her last two years of high school, so she already has plenty of college credits under her belt. She said she’s going to ride it out and see where things take her. Wenatchee Valley is a community college.

“I’m just going to see what happens. I can do anything, really,” Hershey said. “It just depends on how the season goes and how corona handles our season. I’m just playing it by ear. I’m not going to try and plan a whole bunch right now because everything is so up in the air.”