By Tommy Keeler Jr.
STRASBURG -- When Jonathan Kloosterman went to watch a James Madison University football game for the first time a few years ago, he knew that was where he wanted to be.
Next season, the 6-foot-3 Strasburg senior will be living his dream as a JMU Duke.
Kloosterman recently decided to attend JMU, where he will be a preferred walk-on on the football team.
"That's where I wanted to be," Kloosterman said. "I'm happy to be able to go to the school that I want."
Kloosterman said that he was also looking at the College of William and Mary and Division II Shepherd University. Both JMU and William and Mary play in the Colonial Athletic Association in the Football Championship Subdivision.
In the end, Kloosterman said JMU was just the perfect fit for him.
"I like how it's not too far away from home," Kloosterman said. "I get to keep my school colors. I really like it. It's a really nice campus, and the people are really nice."
JMU has been interested in Kloosterman for a while, but he admitted he was a little worried when he suffered a fractured fibula in the fifth game of the high school football season.
Kloosterman said the doctors assured him he would be able to come back and be as strong as ever, but he said it was tough missing the rest of his senior football season.
"Watching my team from the sidelines was rough," Kloosterman said. "But I knew I had to be supportive and as much of a leader as I could from the sidelines."
Kloosterman was able to make it back for most of the basketball season, and helped lead the Rams to the regional quarterfinals.
Kloosterman said that JMU wants him to play tight end and that suits him just fine.
JMU fired head coach Mickey Matthews, and he was replaced by Everett Withers. Kloosterman said that he hasn't had a chance to meet Withers yet, but he will be attending the spring football game and will get a chance to meet him there.
Assistant head coach John Bowers is the only coach Kloosterman has been in contact with.
"One of the things [Bowers] said is it doesn't matter if you're a walk-on or a scholarship player, they're going to treat you the same," Kloosterman said.
Kloosterman will see plenty of other local faces on next year's football team. Warren County graduate Gage Steele, Handley graduates Jeremiah Wilson and Graham Sharples and Stonewall Jackson graduate Juan Luna are all on the Dukes roster.
Kloosterman said he knows Steele's brother, Blake, and talked to Gage Steele on Twitter. Gage Steele said it's nice to have another local athlete at JMU.
"He was just asking a couple pointers and stuff like that, and I told him just as long as you work hard and show them that you can put your mind to stuff, they like seeing that," Gage Steele said in an interview last week. "When I heard he was coming up to JMU, I thought that was pretty cool that another local was coming -- especially seeing kids coming from smaller local communities and things like this. It shows that if you do work hard and put your mind your mind to something, then you can definitely achieve high goals."
Kloosterman said he's excited to play in the Virginia High School Coaches Association football all-star game on July 12 in Hampton.
"Hopefully I'll get an idea of what the competition is going to be like, because most of them are going to be college ball players too," Kloosterman said. I'm really looking forward to that and going against competition for the first time since my injury."
The Dukes went 6-6 last season and missed the playoffs for the third time in the last four years.
JMU did a study recently looking into the possibility of moving to the Football Bowl Subdivision, which would also open up more scholarships.
Kloosterman said it would be great to play at the FBS level, but he's just happy that he's going to be a Duke.
"I just want to get on the field as soon as possible and give 110 percent," Kloosterman said. "I'm just excited to be able to do this."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or email@example.com Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd