By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
Garrett Hittner made the same impression on Jud Keim that he makes on many people.
“We thought highly of him from day one,” said Keim, assistant head coach of the Pacific Lutheran University football team. “He’s a great character kid: humble, heart for others, a good sense of purpose as to what he’s looking for in his college student-athlete experience.”
Hittner’s character is what has Keim eager for him to become part of the Pacific Lutheran University football program.
Hittner will begin attending the Tacoma, Wash.-based school in the fall as a two-sport athlete in football and as a sprinter for the track team. The latter is another reason Keim is anxious to begin coaching him.
“Garrett has good size for a wide receiver, but his speed distinguished him,” Keim said. “We have a very senior group of all-conference wide receivers, and we think he’ll be mentored well by them in addition to bringing his own abilities, elevating them and then become a big part of the next wave of Lute receivers.”
For his part, Hittner said PLU had the best fit in terms of what he was looking for in a college.
“I felt comfortable there. There’s a bit of uneasiness in being farther away from home, but I felt good around the other students and faculty.”
As a Celtic, Hittner was part of a sea change in McNary High School sports, but he’s been a solid individual presence on the varsity football roster from his sophomore year on.
“Garrett was always a deep ball threat because of his speed, but he always worked hard to be a leader on the team,” said Isaac Parker, head coach of the McNary football team.
Hittner’s favorite moment was winning a playoff game over Roseburg High School in his senior season after a long playoff drought for the McNary team.
In track and field, he’s made consecutive appearances at the state level in individual sprints and as part of relay teams, one of which now holds a school record.
Whether he’s on the gridiron, on the track or volunteering to mentor elementary school readers, part of the impression Hittner is likely to leave is that he’s giving it his all. On and off the field, and even if he’s not totally sure where he’s headed.
“I’m still not sure what I’m going to study. Maybe exercise science, maybe business. Right now, I’m just excited to be part of a team again, that’s the one thing I miss during track and field,” he said.