CHEYENNE – Dayton Crocker has logged more miles than most teenagers his age.
Growing up in a military family with his father, Jonathan, serving in the U.S. Air Force, Crocker’s roots are grounded in Cheyenne. At 13, he and his family moved to Dallas. Five years later, they packed their bags again and headed for Potsdam, New York. Just this year, they moved back to the Capital City.
“As a person, moving around (with a) military family, from Cheyenne to Dallas to Potsdam, New York, now back here, you grow through the experiences,” Crocker said. “As a soccer player, you get new environments, you get new opportunities, and you seize those opportunities and where it takes you.”
Crocker seized the opportunity that was handed to him Tuesday when he signed a letter of intent with Laramie County Community College, where he will further his career beginning this fall.
Though, the future is not in question. The present is. Because Crocker has moved from state to state, his eligibility remains up in the air for his senior season at Central. It’s a rule the Wyoming High School Activities Association has long had in place.
“Hopefully, that gets resolved,” said Crocker.
Crocker said he has not heard much from the state about his case, but he hopes he’ll be able to play out his final prep season.
“Vaguely,” he said of communicating with the state. “I’ve heard both. For now, it’s a no until we get everything situated. I’m hoping I can (play and) get on the field and make an impact. It’s one of those timetable things where they’ve got to check their ‘Ps’ and ‘Qs’ and make sure everything’s good just in case something goes wrong along the way.”
Central coach Tim Denisson sure hopes Crocker will be part of the team this season.
“For someone to move from 2,000 miles away or come back to his roots with the kids he grew up playing (with), what a memory that is,” he said. “The commitment that the family has made is extensive, and that’s his hardship scenario.”
No matter if he plays for Central or not this season, Crocker is excited about his future with LCCC.
“It’s always something I talked about as a kid,” he said. “I know the coaches very well. It’s always a place I’ve really admired. To be able to sign (with LCCC), I’m really thrilled about it.
“In terms of an archetype, it does feel like I’ve gone full circle, both as a person and as a soccer player. It is a dream come true.”
Classmate Ethan Mathis also put pen to paper Tuesday afternoon and will join Crocker as a member of the Golden Eagles this fall.
“The fact that I know so many of the guys that play there,” Mathis said. “Coach (Vince) Gibson, coach (Jose) Arenas and coach (Brian) Longbottom, they’ve all been part of my soccer career, and they all made me feel really welcome there.”
There was one moment in particular that motivated Mathis to work toward Tuesday’s signing – the pain of losing the Class 4A state final to Casper Natrona County last spring. Mathis was the last one off the field after the match, thinking about the bitter feeling of defeat.
“That stings a little bit, for sure,” he said. “I wanted to soak it in, and that definitely played a part in me wanting to take a step to the next level.”
Mathis scored two goals and assisted on six others to help the Indians go 15-6 as a junior last season. He’s certainly looking forward to his senior season, but he’s also pumped for the future.
“LCCC’s got a really good program, so I’m excited to get started with them.”
Tyler Poslosky is a writer for WyoSports. He can be reached at 307-633-3123 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @TylerPoslosky.