By Ray Hamill — For Makaila Napoleon, Oregon Tech was the right fit for several reasons.
And that’s good news for Oregon Tech.
On Friday afternoon, in front of a gathering of family and friends, the multi-talented Napoleon signed a letter of intent to play basketball at the NAIA school next season.
Napoleon, a three-sport star for the Loggers, will graduate having played a remarkable 11 varsity sports seasons at Eureka.
And she will follow in the footsteps of her father Clifford, who played basketball at Oregon Tech, while also going to play for a head coach who once coached her mother Stephanie.
The decision might feel like destiny, but it came down to more practical reasons.
“I choose Oregon Tech because I really like the culture around the school and the team,” Napoleon said. “And my dad went there.”
Oregon Tech head coach Scott Meredith, in his ninth season with the program, is a Humboldt County native, who also previously coached alongside current Eureka head coach Michael Harvey.
And Harvey knows first hand the talent the Owls are getting.
“She’s a great basketball player and she’s had great teachers along the way,” he said. “She knows the game.”
She knows other games too.
Napoleon has played four years of varsity basketball, surpassing the career 1,000-points mark early this season, as well as three years of varsity volleyball, and she is about to start her fourth year playing varsity softball.
All told, that’s an impressive resume by any standards.
At Oregon Tech she intends on pursuing a degree in medical imaging, and will join an impressive Owls program that is 20-8 this season.
Meredith has built a strong winning program at the NAIA school, with an overall record of 191-97 in his time there, having previously served as an assistant coach at both College of the Redwoods and Humboldt State.
His .658 winning percentage coming into this season places him fifth among all active NAIA D-II coaches.
Napoleon has other connections with the school, attending camps there as a eighth grader and as a high school freshman.
Asked about what her role with the team will be, Napoleon replied with a smile, “I know he wants me to shoot.”
As for her time at Eureka High, Napoleon says she will remember her teammates first and foremost.
“I’ll remember the friendships I made in every single sport,” she said. “It’s like a big family in every single one.”
The Eureka senior will return her focus to more immediate concerns on Friday night, when the Loggers host Sir Francis Drake in the North Coast Section Division-III quarterfinals.
A win for the Eureka girls will see them advance to the NorCals and keep their season going for at least a couple of more weeks.