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The girls of Scholarship Lane: Neighbors Gleason, Gallagher bound for Division-I colleges

ATWATER -- Aly Gleason has known Diane Gallagher since first grade.

The two grew up together just down the street from each other in McSwain.

They played youth soccer together. They both played softball at McSwain Middle School.

Now both girls have used their summer to pick their colleges.

Gallagher, who graduated from Buhach Colony this spring, accepted a softball scholarship to Eastern Kentucky.

Gleason starts her senior year today at Buhach Colony knowing she has a soccer scholarship waiting for her at Stanford.

"I have always known Diane," Gleason said. "I remember playing softball on the Yammers with her.

"I'm glad she gets the opportunity to play in college. She deserves it."

The duo aren't the only neighborhood kids moving on to college. Brett Mooneyham lives acroos the street from Gallagher. Mooneyham is headed to Stanford with a baseball scholarship this fall.

The Marmolejos live right around the corner. Their daughter, Erika, accepted a softball scholarship to Loyola Marymount.

Gallagher was getting worried she wouldn't get her shot. Graduation had come and went without any offers.

She even registered at Merced College as a backup plan.

However, while playing travel ball with the Stockton Running Rebels this summer, she caught the attention of Eastern Kentucky

"I was the only player on my summer team who hadn't signed," Gallagher said.

"Everybody told me not to worry about it. But I was worried for a while. I was even desperate for a little bit. But I played well and good things happened."

The outfielder caught the eye of Eastern Kentucky coaches during a tournament in Las Vegas.

When they saw her play in Colorado, they made her a full-ride scholarship she couldn't refuse.

"It's been my dream since I was 10 years old," Gallagher said. "This was my eighth year of playing summer travel ball.

"This is what I wanted to do."

Meanwhile, just down the street, Gleason had a tough decision of her own this summer.

Stanford or Harvard?

"She's so smart," Gallagher said. "I wouldn't doubt for a second she would do well at either one."

Still, Gleason had a hard time picking one over the other.

She'll officially sign her national letter of intent in November.

"It's definitely the toughest decision I've ever had to make as a teenager," Gleason said.

"How do you turn down Harvard? Not many people do that.

"It was a decision I talked over with my family. In the end, it was a chance to stay closer to home. My parents can come watch me play.

"It's also a chance to play in the best conference in the country. Three of the Final Four teams last year came from the Pac-10."

Gleason's soccer career started in the backyard against her brothers Drew -- now a midfielder at UNLV -- and Tanner.

"Soccer has always been a family thing," Gleason said. "I remember when I was little and my brothers Drew and Tanner would take shots against me.

"Drew really pushed me."

Gleason's dream is to be playing goalie for the U.S. in the 2012 Olympics in London.

"That is the ultimate goal," Gleason said. "I want to play in the Olympics."

The kids definitely dream big in their neighborhood.

Why not?

Sometimes dreams come true.

Shawn Jansen is a Sun-Star sports reporter. He can be reached at 385-2462 or via e-mail at sjansen@mercedsun-star.com.

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