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Woodland-Kalama football, Elijua Schultz

Woodland's Elijua Schultz, center, collapses on Kalama's Brady O'Neil with teammates Tyler Flanagan, left, and Reid Hope in a Week 1 game. 

Woodland senior linebacker Elijua Schultz has worked on refurbishing electric bikes and tinkered with a flamethrower, but perhaps his crowning accomplishment was being selected for the Washington Aerospace Scholars program.

Schultz is the tackles leader for the playoff-bound Beavers — who will take on Tumwater in a district crossover game Saturday — but is hoping to tackle college as the first graduate in his family. Participating in the NASA-backed program was a big step.

“It’s more engineering-based — working with others, problem solving,” Schultz said. “My favorite part of the experience was meeting with the president of the Museum of Flight, Doug White. He told us stories about Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk. It was more about getting an idea about the engineering process.”

That’s kind of Schultz’s personality.

“He might be the most worldly, free-spirited, intelligent, balanced player I’ve ever coached,” Woodland coach Mike Woodward said. “He’ll be the kid that will come to his 10-year reunion with stories about how he’s been to every country, surfed every wave, skied every mountain.”

STEM — short for science, technology, engineering and mathematics — has been a field Schultz has been interested in for awhile now. In order to qualify, Schultz received a recommendation from his physics teacher, turned in his grades and wrote an essay. The senior shrugged it off as no big deal, though the process sounded just like a quality collegiate application.

It was well worth it, Schultz said, and he’s learned to take his interest and knowledge in engineering, and use it on the field as well.

“If there was a connection to engineering it’d be experience, but also problem solving and analyzing,” Schultz said. “It helps me slow the game down a little bit.”

He’s hoping to attend to the University of Washington, and may enlist in the Air Force.

Just the chance to be the first member of his family to obtain a bachelor’s degree makes him salivate.

“Nobody in my family has earned a college degree and I want to be the first one in my family to do that,” Schultz said. “I think that’s where my drive and influence comes from.”

Schultz is also one of many seniors on Woodland’s playoff-bound football team. It’s been a different experience, in some ways, for Schultz and all for the better.

“This year, I don’t play with any pressure. The hardest part is to make sure everyone is calm and not overthinking things,” Schultz said. “I have more fun this year.”

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Sports Reporter

Jason is a journeyman sports reporter who has covered the Golden State Warriors, Oakland A's, along with a heavy emphasis on the Oakland Raiders. He comes to Cowlitz County from Oakland, Calif. and is a loving father.

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