While competing in a summer tournament last year, Cheyann Tooman caught the eye of Greg Eckman. The Northern Vermont University-Johnson coach followed up afterwards, and Wednesday morning Tooman joined his program.
The Belgrade senior signed a letter of intent to play basketball for the Badgers beginning with the 2019-20 campaign.
“He was scouting somebody else and ended up seeing me play,” Tooman explained. “I had a next student college athlete account set up and he actually found me on that and got in contact with me through that.”
Initially, Tooman had little interest in attending school across the country. The NVU-Johnson campus is located in upper Vermont and the East Coast didn’t really seem that appealing.
Tooman was actually planning on not participating in sports and attending Western Washington University when Eckman contacted her again.
“He was like, ‘Hey, you are one of our top recruits. We’d really like to get you out here and visit,’” said Tooman. “I was like, ‘Alright, we’ll give it a try.’”
The school flew Tooman to Vermont for a campus visit in early April, and that’s all it took.
“I absolutely loved the college. I got to play with the team. Absolutely loved the chemistry that I already have with the girls,” said Tooman. “They’re covering most of my tuition, so I just decided this is where I’m meant to be.”
Tooman noted that everyone she met was very welcoming and that Vermont is similar to Montana.
“It just made me feel like home. A second home away from home,” she said. “One of the things that I think is going to help me a lot is that it’s a lot like Montana, the environment. It’s a lot of farm land and a lot of space between towns.”
Tooman, a 5-foot-10 forward who was a two-year varsity member, helped Belgrade reach the state Class A tournament as a junior and then post a 10-11 record this past season. She averaged 2.4 points and 2.5 rebounds per game coming off the bench.
NVU-Johnson is a Division III program and is coming off a 2-22 campaign (0-14 in North Atlantic Conference) this past season.
Tooman, who also participates in track, band and choir, noted she’s a little behind in her basketball development, but is excited about the opportunity in Vermont.
“I decided a little too late in my game, basically, that I wanted to get really serious about basketball. So I am a little bit further behind than I should be skill-wise for D-I, and I personally didn’t want to work my butt off in practice and not get much playing time until my junior year,” Tooman said. “This is giving me the opportunity to play as a freshman and sophomore and get better and be able to play full time by my junior and senior year.”
Tooman plans to study music education and eventually add a double major in athletic training.