When recruited high school athletes take a visit to a college they’re eyeing, they usually bring along one if not both of their parents.
For Chris Jamrok, however, he elected to fly solo—literally. In early March, the San Benito High senior goalkeeper flew into Seattle-Tacoma Airport alone en route to the Evergreen State campus in Olympia. After being blown away with the campus, teachers and men’s soccer program, Jamrok knew he would be spending his next four years at Evergreen State.
Jamrok made it official when he signed his letter of intent on April 12.
“The atmosphere, the soccer, the beautiful campus, the people, the teachers, everything was just amazing and it felt like my next home,” he said. “It was super exciting and relieving to sign because it’s been a stressful four years and to get that weight off my shoulders was nice.”
Evergreen State is a NAIA program that plays in the Cascade Collegiate Conference, which includes teams from Washington, Oregon, Montana and Idaho. Jamrok becomes one of just a handful of players in the last 10 years from the San Benito High boys soccer program to go straight to a four-year program.
The 6-foot-2, 165-pounder also plays for FC Bay Area Surf, a high level club program based out of San Jose. While Jamrok possesses physical attributes that should translate well to the next level, he said his willingness to learn and be moldable is what left the biggest impression in his interactions with Evergreen State coach Steve Schmidt.
“His main thing was my willingness to learn and be coachable,” Jamrok said. “I learned as a kid you want to be a coachable player because that is a trait people are looking for.”
Jamrok earned Pacific Coast League Mission Division first team honors this past season, helping to lead the Haybalers to a league championship and Central Coast Section playoff berth. When first asked about his outstanding play, Jamrok credited everything to the San Benito squad.
“I couldn’t be in the situation I am now without my teammates,” he said. “I can’t say anything about my skills because it really comes from everyone. I’ve been playing with the guys on the high school team since we were kids, and these guys are my best friends in the whole world. They’re like family and I’ve known them forever. To have that connection with all the players allowed us to play better and really helped us to succeed. It was everyone who had a great year.”
When pressed to talk about his strengths, Jamrok said a goalkeeper has to be a leader out of the back.
“You see everything going on and that gives you the ability to fix things,” he said. “If I don’t like something or if someone is making a mistake or not being in the right position, I’m able to tell them and hopefully they listen and the situation gets fixed right away. Just having that awareness of the game and being a leader in the back is important as a goalkeeper.”
Although Jamrok had a tremendous senior season, he said it was an early non-league game at Valley Christian-San Jose in the spring 2021 season that he counted as the highlight of his high school career. The Warriors unleashed a barrage of shots on goal and if not for the efforts of Jamrok, the Balers could’ve easily been trailing by a couple of goals in the first 20 minutes.
However, Jamrok made the routine and spectacular saves, aggressively coming off his line to repeatedly thwart the potent Valley Christian attack.
“In the beginning of that match, we were overwhelmed and I knew going in I was going to be busy,” Jamrok said. “And I sure was, but we were able to tie that game which was a huge moment for us. Coming off Covid delaying the season, it was kind of weird because we didn’t get to practice together and that was one of the first times we were a team again. To be able to get that tie with my teammates, it felt like it was one of the best games I’ve ever played.”
Jamrok started playing soccer for the Hollister Tremors at age 8 and was coached by his dad, Ken.
“I was the tallest kid so my dad just put me at goalie and I fell in love with it,” Jamrok said.
Sports editor Emanuel Lee can be reached at [email protected]