RIGBY — As a junior, KaliJo Zagula sent out more than 150 emails to various colleges in an effort to start the recruiting process and drum up interest for the girl ice hockey player from Rigby High who was just looking to play at the next level.
“I just looked at the positive,” Zagula said Wednesday night, noting she only received four responses and two of those we “No.”
But one of the responses, from Stevenson University, a Division III college in Owings Mills, Maryland, proved to be promising.
After talking to coaches, putting together highlight videos, attending a prospect camp in Boston, and eventually visiting campus, Zagula committed to play hockey for the Mustangs. She officially signed her letter of intent on Wednesday before a spirited group of friends and family at Rigby High. She is believed to be the first area girl to sign with an NCAA women’s hockey program.
“One of them was the right fit for me,” she said. “It all worked out.”
NCAA Division III does not offer athletic scholarships, but Zagula earned an academic full ride to the college. She plans on studying nursing.
Zagula ended her local hockey career in historic fashion, being a member of the Idaho Vipers under-19 girls ice hockey team that became the first Idaho team to win a district tournament and advance to the USA Hockey National Girls Tier II Tournament last week. The Vipers became the first girls team to win a game at the national tournament, defeating the New Jersey Colonials 4-3 in a shootout. Zagula had a goal in regulation and scored in the shootout.
“I’ve enjoyed every bit of the ride,” she said. “All the late night practices, all the early morning practices, all the time and effort … I wouldn’t want to have it any other way.”