Class of '98 Is Destined to Go Places

It's time to say farewell to the high school class of 1998:

Beware of casinos, David Neill. Remember how people wondered if you could continue the Hart High quarterback tradition? After passing for 3,053 yards and 26 touchdowns, you convinced everyone. You're off to Nevada. Hart quarterbacks haven't been as successful in college, but you're going to prove everyone wrong again.

Have a safe trip, Daniel Bobik. Before going to play basketball at Brigham Young, you're leaving on a Mormon mission to the Dominican Republic. Bring along a basketball and take a computer so you can send e-mail messages to your two younger brothers at Newbury Park and follow their latest exploits on the Internet. Never lose your love for the game.

Get ready for lots of calisthenics, Scott Long. You really grew up at Chaminade, both as a basketball player and person. You're showing lots of courage by going to the U.S. Naval Academy. If you thought Coach Jeff Young was tough, wait until you run into a upper-class midshipman who's had a bad day. Study hard, sleep well and remember the two most important words, "Beat Army!"

Keep hitting .500, Woody Cliffords. You're off to Pepperdine. Don't get too much sun in Malibu. Never forget what Coach Mike Maio taught you at El Camino Real. You're destined to follow in the path of Randy Wolf and Dan Cey. Just remember to keep your pet iguana out of the Pepperdine dugout. And please offer a good quote or two to your local sportswriter.

Come back a lawyer, Alex Perez. You played on City championship football and wrestling teams at El Camino Real. But most importantly, you made it to the Ivy League. You're off to Columbia University. Bring a warm jacket and buy a phone card so you can talk to your mother. Make us all proud.

You're ready for the big time, Michelle Greco. All the hours of shooting free throws and jump shots in the gym earned you a basketball scholarship to UCLA. Your friends and teammates at Crescenta Valley will never forget you. When you're in the NCAA tournament next year, remember it's no different than high school.

Don't forget how good an athlete you are, Joey Cuppari. Yes, it probably wasn't a smart move to pick Colorado State after all your baseball success. But trust your instincts. You're a super wide receiver. Save your basketball and baseball skills for intramurals. Thanks for all the one-handed catches, three-point bombs and clutch hits at Westlake.

Prove UCLA and USC wrong, Tim Feirfeil. You're one of the greatest athletes L.A. Baptist has produced. You led the region in catches and receiving yardage. You ran 100 meters in 10.85 seconds. Don't believe for one minute you're not an NCAA Division I player. Just watch how many recruiters come to offer scholarships after junior college.

It's time to memorize the Michigan fight song, Justin Fargas. We'll be watching you on television, reading about you in national magazines and waiting to hear Keith Jackson proclaim you "the next great Michigan tailback." Thanks for the thrills, the memories and the classy way you treated people at Notre Dame. Your fans back home will be behind you, whether you're playing in Ann Arbor, Mich., or South Bend, Ind.

Enjoy the beach, Andy Campanella. You're the last of seven brothers to have gone through Crespi. You're off to play baseball at UC Santa Barbara. You more than upheld the family sports tradition. Not only did you excel in a baseball uniform, but you showed how a teenager can be respected off the field.

Keep having fun, J.T. Stotts. You came to Hart as a basketball player and you're leaving as an all-star shortstop. You were the Foothill League player of the year in basketball and baseball. No one is going to equal that feat for years to come. Cal State Northridge baseball Coach Mike Batesole is thrilled to have you. But if basketball Coach Bobby Braswell ever needs an emergency replacement at point guard, have your shorts available.

Stay dedicated, Jack Cassel. If the best thing a big brother can do is set a good example, you've succeeded. You were a little wild in your early teenage years, but you matured and discovered what you wanted most--a baseball scholarship. You became a dependable, clutch player at Kennedy. Now you're headed to Loyola Marymount. You've paved the way for your younger brothers, Matt and Justin, to understand the sacrifice required to reach the top.

Fulfill your dreams, Ryan McCann. You've wanted to play college football all your life. You had your ups and downs at Agoura, but you never lost confidence or focus. Now everything is within reach. You're off to play quarterback at UCLA. Stay inspired to be the best. Never give up hope.

Say hello to Chelsea, Jessica Mendoza. You're leaving Camarillo to play softball at Stanford. It's going to be the greatest academic, athletic and social experience of your life. It's scary to leave family and friends, but they'll be rooting for you all the way.


Eric Sondheimer's local column appears Wednesday and Sunday. He can be reached at (818) 772-3422.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World