Tilden Berriman really could have cared less about CSU-Pueblo's final record last fall.
If anything, perhaps the chance to help the team improve appealed to him during the recruiting process. Coming from Bayfield High School, where success in soccer never comes easy, he was no stranger to struggles and bettering himself and the team through them, from his childhood days in Bayfield's Parks-and-Rec youth leagues all the way to Bayfield's CHSAA Class 3A State Tournament berth in 2017.
But in the end, Berriman simply hoped to realize a dream of joining any of the many Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference teams he'd seen visit the area and play in Durango up at Fort Lewis College. Sure, suiting up for the Skyhawks would have been sweet, but he knew others also knew of him-and were hoping FLC wouldn't woo the Wolverine.
"I went to a couple ID camps the past couple years, and Fort Lewis seemed like they showed some interest in me," Berriman recalled. "But then I contacted them a month or so ago and they said that all their spots are filled.wished me the best of luck in my search."
That search officially concluded last Thursday afternoon inside BHS Gymnasium.
Before a small group of witnesses, Berriman donned - as did parents Peter and Lexi - a CSUP shirt, beaming the whole while that he will indeed be continuing his student-athlete career in the RMAC (NCAA Division II), even if that means going against Fort Lewis.
"It makes it even better that I get to play on the field...against them!" he said. "Super excited about that. I've always wanted to play in the RMAC, always wanted to play in Colorado. And, I mean, I've been going to RMAC games my whole life growing up, like Fort Lewis, CMU (Colorado Mesa University), CSUP, and it's just been a league I've really wanted to play in. So I was just beyond excited that the opportunity presented itself."
"I think Tilden very much deserves it; at the beginning of the year he deserved some kind of an honor," said BHS head coach Chris Zoltowski. "He's grown so much, especially in this past year. He's become such a great leader for this team, and, not just his skill and stats, obviously, on the field."
"His leadership alone is what makes him a great kid, and why he's going to be great at CSU-Pueblo."
"Any obstacle I got to, he helped me with - had such a big impact on my career," Berriman said of Zoltowski. "Coming from Bayfield, I think that just shows an even greater importance that anything's possible, especially coming out of school and moving on to better things."
"I mean, I just had my mind set on going to college, play for a college, for so long and just pushed myself. It's just so great to think that it's actually happening."
The Thunderwolves finished 3-7-4 in the RMAC and 3-11-4 overall in '17, and managed just 16 goals offensively. Four of those came in a two-goal Senior/Parent Night home win over South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, before a 3-1 loss in Golden at Colorado School of Mines and 1-0 loss in Denver at Regis University ended CSUP's campaign.
"He has a good way of controlling the center of the field, and he has excellent vision," Zoltowski added. "Many of our goals, Tilden would find them on a run. A lot of people miss those opportunities, but he saw those and I think him being able to bring that is going to pick up the pace of the game for CSU-Pueblo. I think it's going to help them learn possession as well."
"When I went up to practice in Pueblo, they put me as more of a left-mid because I'm a left-footed player, so I think I'll have to start adapting to the position and learn how to play from there," said Berriman, who noted an early interest in studying business or business management.
"I played midfield my whole four seasons in high school, was coached by a lot of great coaches that were midfielders and strikers, and they really just helped me develop an awesome vision on the field for the attackers, which I'm super-stoked to present."
"I went back one more time to practice with the team and, realized how competitive the team really was, and how awesome of a program it would be to join," he added. "I pretty much just fell in love with everything the program had to offer! The surroundings, the campus, the school, everything just seemed so amazing, and they offer my degree at this school, that was icing on top of the cake!"
"It's bittersweet; I don't want to see him go because of his skill, obviously," quipped Zoltowski. "I'm glad he's moving on, but I would like to have, you know, kept him around for another year! Hopefully one day he comes back and helps coach!"