Rachel Meagley and Candice Boyd have been the closest of friends for a dozen years. They’ve shared laughter and tears, joy and sorrow, triumph and strife since the day Meagley first introduced herself to a quiet girl standing on the sidelines of a kindergarten break.
The West Valley pair study together and play softball together – the latter as the only two seniors, both four-year starters, and second-year co-captains for the Eagles, who face Colville today at West Valley in a Great Northern League first-place showdown.
But the twosome is preparing to separate. In fact, they will separate about as far as two friends can split and still remain in the same country. Boyd heads to St. Martin’s University near Olympia. Meagley heads to Florida, where she will play softball at Miami Dade College.
“It’s going to be weird being so far apart,” Boyd laughed. “All I know is that we’re going to be sending a lot of text messages back and forth and spending a lot of time on the phone.”
Still, it’s going to be difficult for those who know the pair to imagine them apart for long.
The togetherness began during a break during kindergarten.
“I enjoy people, and I’ve never been afraid to walk up and introduce myself,” Meagley said. “Candice looked like someone who’d be interesting.”
The pair took an instant liking to one another, and the friendship blossomed, surviving even a one-year trial separation when one attended Centennial Middle School and the other Seth Woodard.
“That was strange, but all went back to normal the next year when we were both at Centennial,” Boyd said.
The friendship has seen more than its share of success.
Meagley was offered a scholarship to pitch at Miami Dade after playing several tournaments in the area with the Washington Ladyhawks Gold. The Miami Dade Lady Sharks are the top ranked junior college program in the nation.
Boyd graduates next month as the West Valley Class of 2010 valedictorian.
“I’m so proud of Candice and everything she’s accomplished,” Meagley said. “She’s so smart, and she’s worked so hard. I know she hasn’t started working on her speech yet, but I’m sure I’ll be her trial audience when she does.”
Softball wasn’t an immediate addition to the friendship.
“Softball was one of Candice’s passions for a long time,” Meagley said. “I didn’t start to play until middle school. I’d been a swimmer, and the coach took a look at me and suggested I try pitching, since it’s pretty similar. I did and picked it up pretty fast.”
From the start, the pair were as close on the softball diamond as they are in everyday life. Meagley pitched; Boyd played third base. When Meagley needed to warm up or get in some extra work, Boyd grabbed a glove and caught.
“When we got to West Valley, we were the only two freshmen to make varsity,” Boyd said. “Rachel started to play right away, but I didn’t get to play much until the girl who was playing third broke a couple fingers. I took over third and, when she came back, she moved to shortstop.”
“I’ve always been able to look over and see Candice there,” Meagley said. “It’s going to be strange.”
For now, the pair are intent on leading West Valley into the playoffs.
The pair both are returning first-team All-Great Northern League selections – with Meagley earning that honor each of the past two seasons.
The Eagles enter today’s twinbill with a 7-1 league record, one game behind Colville. A series sweep at home would vault the team into first place.
“(Today’s) doubleheader with Colville is going to be bittersweet,” Boyd said. “This is the last time we’re going to play a (regular season) game on that field. It’s hard to believe that our high school careers are coming to an end.”
The pair are doing their best to leave West Valley with a lasting legacy.
“This is a really young team this year,” Boyd said. “What’s great about it, though, is that these are all very talented freshmen and sophomores.
“I think it helps that Rachel and I know exactly what they’re going through because we went through the same thing when we were their age. It’s tough making the jump from middle school to high school varsity. That’s a whole different level.”
“I’m proud of this team,” Meagley said. “We had a few problems last year with a couple juniors becoming team captains. But we’ve worked that out, and everyone is working very hard and having fun.”
“I’m going to miss this,” Boyd said. “I’m looking forward to graduation and all that. And the last month of your senior year is so busy.
“But it’s hard to believe that this is all coming to an end.”
The teammates are in agreement on one thing: They’re going to be friends the rest of their lives.
“We share so much,” Meagley said. “I know we’re going to keep on sharing.”