Mountain Man: After offers from various schools, Ramirez decides on soccer and the University of the Ozarks

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY, News-Telegram Sports Editor

May 21, 2008 - Tate Ramirez had plenty of choices about where to go to college, and the Sulphur Springs senior decided to head for the hills.

Ramirez, the son of Sotero and Sabrina Ramirez, signed a letter of intent recently to play soccer for the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Ark.

A multi-sport athlete in high school, Ramirez had offers to run track and cross country and to play soccer at various schools. He narrowed his choice to soccer and then to the NCAA Div. III program at Ozarks, where former Wildcat Wilson Jones attends.

"I really went down there because of Wilson Jones, who goes there. I investigated them and found out they're a really good school with a great academic program," Ramirez said. "I met the team and they're really a close-knit group, and I just fell in love with it.

"I wanted to play in college since I started playing soccer. I had a hard time deciding between soccer and running, but I really love playing soccer and that's where I felt my heart was."

Ozarks advanced to the American Southwest Conference Championship tournament a league-record eighth straight time in 2007 after posting a 17-5-0 record and winning the ASC regular season title. Ozarks has accumulated a 114-48-9 record the last eight seasons while producing 11 All-Americans and 54 All-Conference players during that span.

SSHS head coach Andy Holt said Ramirez should blossom under Ozarks coach Dave De Hart.

"The coach up there is demanding and expects a lot, and Tate expects a lot out of himself, so it should be a good fit," Holt said. "I think that's a place where Tate can go and learn a lot about soccer from the kids and the coach and be pushed. I think it'll be a great fit for him."

Academically, Ramirez should also mesh well. Every member of the team had a 3.0 or higher GPA.

Ramirez, a 5-10, 155-pound senior midfielder, scored 15 goals and collected seven assists en route to earning the co-Offensive MVP of District 11-4A. He was a three-year All-District starter for the Wildcats, and was team captain this season and earned an invitation to play in the 2008 Senior TASCO All-Star game.

He was also a three-year qualifier for the regional track meet and a four-year regional cross country qualifier.

"Tate's one of those guys who has a lot of self motivation and really works hard," Holt said. "He could have gone to college in soccer, track or cross country. He's had a great soccer career, and has done very well for us."

Ozarks awarded Ramirez a combination of academic and achievement based scholarships for exceptional academic success, as well as significant extracurricular contributions.

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