Jr., Los Angeles Cathedral
Then: Brought to the varsity as a 5-foot-5, 120-pound freshman for the playoffs, he scored twice in his debut and gave the Division X semifinalist Phantoms a dimension they didn’t previously have: speed. Under a new coach last season, the program failed to make the playoffs, and Galvez gained only 442 yards and scored six touchdowns. “He’s the skilled kind of guy that Taft gets,” said Coach Kevin Pearson, in his second stint at Cathedral after coaching at Taft last season. “He might not be as big, but he can run with them, he can catch with them. Skill-wise, he’s just as good.”
Now: Tutors before school and after practice, carries a 4.3 grade-point average with two Advance Placement and two honors classes, and is the football team’s point man. Galvez (5-7, 145) leads the Southland in rushing with 1,976 yards, averaging 10.6 per carry, and has scored 21 touchdowns. A tough, slashing, hard-running back from Lincoln Heights, he led Cathedral (7-2) with 391 yards and five touchdowns in a 55-22 Del Rey League victory over Torrance Bishop Montgomery on Friday.
Quote: “I’ve been searching for universities that have good engineering programs,” Galvez said. “I want to major in aerospace engineering. I want to be a rocket scientist.”
-- Martin Henderson
Then: A powerful, effective groundstroker despite her 5-foot-3 stature, McVitty was a doubles runner-up with Cosmina Ciobanu at the USTA Super National Winter Championships in December before a stress fracture in her left foot limited her practice and play in the first two months of the year. She lost the third-place match at the girls’ 16’s USTA Super National Hard Court Championships in August, but then made the girls’ 18 semifinals in singles, advanced to the doubles final and won the sportsmanship award at the International Hard Court tournament just before school began.
Now: Under the guidance of private coach Robert Lansdorp, who has worked with current pros Lindsay Davenport, Maria Sharapova and Anastasia Myskina, for the past 18 months, McVitty has become adept at constructing points and regularly outclasses opponents. She dropped only two games in six regular-season matches to help Calabasas to a 16-0 record and the No. 2 seeding in the Southern Section Division I playoffs. McVitty won the Marmonte League singles title with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Moorpark’s Michelle Dokic on Tuesday.
Quote: “You kind of feel sorry for the girls on the other side,” Calabasas Coach Kim Kinberg said. “Your heart almost goes out to them when they can’t even get the ball back.”
-- Lauren Peterson
MELANIE DE LEON
Then: Played softball most of her life and was a traveling-team all-star, but said she burned out on the sport. When a physical education teacher brought a set of clubs to class during her freshman year, she decided to give the sport a try. She shot 50 over nine holes less than two weeks after she first swung a club, and in a little more than three years, she has transformed into a top-level player. She is a two-time Foothill League champion, won the California Girls’ Junior State Championship in July and placed seventh in the American Junior Golf Assn. tournament at Mission Hills. Last season, she placed seventh in the Southern Section finals, fourth in the Southern California regional and 16th in the state. “I think she surprised herself a little bit,” Saugus Coach John Molacek said of De Leon’s postseason performance last year. “Her confidence went through the roof. She realized that she belonged in the same class with some of these girls and that she could win.”
Now: Averaged 37.5 over nine holes this season and won the Foothill League individual title. Last week, she shot three-under 69 and was medalist by five shots at the Northern Divisional. She followed with a 78 in the section finals and was one of only six players to break 80 that day. She has committed to Nevada Reno.
Quote: “The first time I played golf, I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” De Leon said.
-- Peter Yoon