SYCAMORE – The most recent scholarship offer was the right one for Sycamore senior volleyball player Ratasha Garbes.
After traveling to Illinois State in July for a team camp with her high school teammates, Garbes received some surprising news.
“They saw me play there and it was kind of in the moment,” Garbes said. “They brought me into their office, said they liked what they saw and they offered me a scholarship.”
On Wednesday, Garbes made it official, signing her letter of intent to play volleyball at Illinois State. Sycamore senior Austin Culton also signed his letter of intent to wrestle at Northern Illinois.
Garbes said she considered offers from West Virginia, College of Charleston and a few others, but Illinois State “really felt right.”
She went for her official visit in September and said she loved the campus and the team.
Garbes said she will be a setter at Illinois State with the possibility of spending some time at outside hitter. The senior played both positions for Sycamore this season, helping lead the Spartans to the Northern Illinois Big 12 East regular season title.
“It was really nice. It was a good way to end it,” Garbes said. “I’ve been playing with some of those girls since sixth grade, and we just really got to know each other and I think it was a really nice way to end our season together.”
Culton, on the other hand, had the idea of going to NIU for a while. He grew up attending NIU wrestling camps and knows the coaching staff well.
“I’ve been going to Northern since I was [young],” Culton said. “So finally, when I became a senior and won state [as a junior], it all fell into place.”
Culton won the IHSA Class 2A state wrestling championship at 152 pounds as a junior. He said the tentative plan is to redshirt his freshman year of college and try to cut weight to compete in the 149-pound weight class.
In the fall, Culton helped lead Sycamore football to a 7-4 record by accumulating an area-leading 1,091 rushing yards during the regular season.
But the mat is where his athletic future will continue.
“Football was always one of those sports where I just went in and played. I never really did anything in the offseason,” Culton said. “Wrestling has always been the one where it was my sport.”