April 19, 1999
WHS's Kris Billmaier, pictured with several hundred college recruting letters, has signed a letter of intent to play baseball for Notre Dame.
by Marshall Haley, staff reporter
Kris Billmaier, Woodinville High's two-time baseball and football captain, has accepted a baseball scholarship from the University of Notre Dame. The All-KingCo and All-Eastside shortstop led the Falcons to the KingCo championship last year.
Billmaier said he might have been interested in playing for the University of Washington, but they told him they already had too many middle infielders under scholarship.
"The Notre Dame coaches told me they had seen me play, liked what they saw, and said I would get a shot to start as a freshman, which is what I wanted," he said.
Billmaier, who twice quarterbacked the Falcons to the state playoffs with only two KingCo losses in two years, said turning out for Notre Dame football was never a consideration. "I got some recruiting from smaller schools for football, but I'm focusing on baseball."
Narrowing his hundreds of recruiting letters to three Catholic schools (Gonzaga, Santa Clara, and Notre Dame) was just a coincidence. "I'm not even Catholic; I'm Lutheran, but I liked the baseball programs at those three schools."
Academics were also part of his decision, said Billmaier, a 3.3 student. "This is the toughest decision I have ever had to make," he said. "There are a lot of great colleges with strong baseball programs out there. When I visited Notre Dame, with its incredible athletic traditions and nationally-recognized academic reputation, I knew that was where I wanted to go. I got a chance to spend some time with Brant Ust [a Notre Dame baseball player from Eastlake High School] and watch the team play. I am hoping to have the kind of success he has had and keep Notre Dame coming back to Washington for its shortstops."
"Kris has worked very hard to improve his baseball skills," said Terry Agnew, Falcon baseball coach, whose program has developed several college stars in recent years. "He also works hard in class. His academic qualifications attracted the attention of many schools who wanted him as a player."
Agnew said most college coaches saw Billmaier play summer ball for an Eastside Connie Mack league team. Agnew said he'd be "real surprised" if Billmaier were not chosen for post-season All-State team play this year.