Powell Native Key Part Of Panthers’ Success
Continuing a recent trend of mining local athletic talent, Northwest College has signed another recent Powell High School graduate to suit up for the Trappers next season.
Forward Rob Sessions — who came up big for the Panthers’ soccer team in the latter stages of its run to the 3A state title game last month — will don Trapper red next season for NWC and first-year head coach Ben McArthur. Sessions joins fellow PHS graduates Natalie Ostermiller and Aubrie Stenerson, who signed with NWC earlier this spring to play volleyball and basketball, respectively.
“We’re excited to have Rob [Sessions] as a Trapper and represent his community,” McArthur said. “I think the level of soccer in Powell is just going to keep getting better and better, and hopefully this is just the beginning.”
For his part, Sessions said he liked what he saw with NWC’s new coach, when McArthur would help out at Panther practices.
“Coach Ben [McArthur] came over to a few of our high school practices and taught us some drills to help with footwork and getting better with combination passing,” Sessions said. “He’s a good guy — he likes to mess around, but he also likes to take things seriously.”
One of the Panthers’ leading scorers as a junior, Sessions got off to a slow start in his final season as he acclimated to a new head coach and a new style of play. Once the kinks were worked out and his game began to click, Sessions became a playmaker on the pitch, finishing with four goals on the season and helping the Panthers advance to the 3A State Championship game.
“We gave it what we had, but it didn’t come out like we wanted,” he said of the state title game, a 2-0 loss to Worland. “But it was a good experience. There were some great memories made.”
McArthur saw firsthand what Sessions is capable of as a player in the latter part of the season, calling him an athlete with “a lot of upside.”
“Rob is a energetic athlete, and multiple times this year he was able to change the game with his energy and athleticism. He scored a few fantastic goals this year,” McArthur said. “The nice thing about Rob is that his best soccer is ahead of him. He’s just going to get better and better, and that has got us excited.”
First-year Panther head coach Dave Gilliatt agreed with McArthur’s assessment, though he cautioned that the difference between the high school and college game is palpable. As an assistant coach at NWC, Gilliatt will be in a unique position to help aid in Sessions’ development as a player, having already coached him for a season.
“It’s going to be a bit of a transition for him [Sessions] stylistically, going from high school to college. It’s going to be more physical,” he said. “Some players rise to that occasion, while some players take a little longer than others. I hope Rob rises to the occasion and he grows in the ways required to succeed at the college level.”
As for what Sessions will bring to the Trappers in terms of athleticism?
“NWC is getting speed on the wing [with Sessions], it’s getting good crosses and some good shooting ability,” Gilliatt said. “He has good acceleration, and I think he’s improved as a passing player this year as well, which will be important. You can’t be predictable at the college level, and I think he’s become a more well-rounded player. He’s also learned to battle through some adversity.”
Sessions said he’s looking forward to improving his skills at the college level, and is excited for the opportunity.
“I’m looking forward to finding out what I’m capable of,” he said. “And I’m looking to playing with and against players from all over the world.”
McArthur said Sessions’ emergence at the end of last season as an offensive threat proved that the young player kept improving as the season progressed, a trait he hopes Sessions will continue as a Trapper.
“I think Rob is a mature young man. That’s how I would describe him,” McArthur said. “I think he understands the big picture of life. I think he’s going to be a really hard worker for me; I think he’ll come in and just grind. He’ll be a good teammate, and I don’t see him being any kind of distraction in the locker room. He wants to be better, and he wants to be coached.”
McArthur was a familiar sight at PHS practices and games this spring, and was also on hand at the 3A State Tournament in Jackson last month. He has a few of the younger Panther players on his radar for possible roster spots in the future, and stressed the importance of recruiting locally.
“We want the town to support Northwest College men’s soccer, and I think one of the ways to do that is to get some local players involved,” McArthur said. “I’ll recruit some guys next year and the year after that. I’ll always try to get the players from Powell to stay home and have a chance to play for their hometown school. It’s good for the college, and it’s good for Powell.”