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Signing day reinvigorates local athletes after the pandemic impacted their sports

Mateo Liau, left, takes a photo of his girlfriend Emily Bredek, far right, as she poses with her mother Julia.
Mateo Liau, left, takes a photo of his girlfriend Emily Bredek, far right, as she poses with her mother Julia during a spring signing day ceremony at Edison High School on Wednesday. Bredek is headed to Old Dominion University to play soccer.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

For the past year, there had been more questions than answers when it came to school-based athletics.

No matter the sport, student-athletes have had to endure either a lost season or an abbreviated season, and that fact was not lost on Edison High School athletic director Rich Boyce as he addressed students and parents at the school’s spring signing day event on Wednesday.

Boyce thanked the teachers, teammates, coaches and families on behalf of the 29 senior athletes that Edison had sign or commit to play their sport in college.

The signing day ceremony at Edison was held outdoors on the track with parents sitting in the bleachers. The athletes were led onto the field with a processional march that included the school band and cheerleaders.

“I think they did a really good job with it,” Edison softball player Jenna Gorden said. “I think the school has done a really good job to make the most out of a bad situation with COVID. I really appreciate all that they did to make this still feel special, like we earned it, like we deserve it.”

Gorden, who will be attending Oregon Tech, is one of three players in the program going on to play in college, along with Izabella Martinez (University of Hawaii, Manoa) and Emma Mendoza (Cal State Monterey Bay).

Edison softball players Emma Mendoza, Jenna Gorden and Izabella Martinez pose for a photo at a spring signing day ceremony.
Edison softball players Emma Mendoza, Jenna Gorden and Izabella Martinez pose for a photo at a spring signing day ceremony.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

“I think the last four years have shown me who my real family is,” Gorden said of her time with the Chargers softball program. “It’s going to be hard to leave and go our separate ways, but I’m grateful for all the time that we have had together that we’ve gotten to share together.”

Five Edison football players will be playing at four-year colleges — defensive lineman Jeremy Alcorn (Southern Nazarene), quarterback Braeden Boyles (Benedictine College), offensive linemen Ryan Easterday (Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology) and Jacob Parsons (UC Davis), and defensive back Jack Kosick (Pennsylvania).

Girls’ lacrosse was another well-represented program for the Chargers on signing day, as Ali Bryant (Colorado Mesa), Blakely Malpass (Davenport University), Rylee Siegel (Grand Canyon), Zoe Soukup (Northern Vermont) and Melanie Wieland (Georgetown College) partook in the festivities.

Bryant attributed her team’s success to competition within the program itself.

“There’s not just one person who’s the best,” Bryant said. “Everyone at practice is always challenged by someone, so we’re always striving to get better like that. Being with a bunch of girls who are always asking questions, always trying to get better, I think that’s why we’re so successful is that we’re never satisfied.”

Football player Jake Parsons stands as he is acknowledged during a spring signing day ceremony at Edison High School.
Football player Jake Parsons stands as he is acknowledged during a spring signing day ceremony at Edison High School on Wednesday. Parsons is headed to UC Davis.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Melissa Carpenter was part of a Chargers cheerleading program that she said is about 50 members strong this year. Bound for Westcliff University, Carpenter emphasized the help that she received along the way.

“It makes me very proud and happy I am able to represent that cheer team with those 50 girls,” Carpenter said. “They all have helped me … with anything, and I’ve definitely grown since my freshman year being on that team.”

It will be a family affair for Evan Knipe, a first baseman and pitcher for the Edison baseball team. Knipe will join the baseball program at Long Beach State, where his father, Alan, is the men’s volleyball coach. His brother, Aidan, is a setter for Long Beach.

“It feels great,” Knipe said. “My whole family has gone there. My mom, my dad, my brother is currently there. I think it’s a really cool tradition.”

Sage Hill’s Emily Elliott, who has starred for the Lightning in girls’ basketball and volleyball throughout her four years at the school, signed with the Cal State Los Angeles women’s volleyball program.

Sage Hill's Emily Elliott signs a national letter of intent to join the Cal State Los Angeles women's volleyball program.
Sage Hill’s Emily Elliott signs a national letter of intent to join the Cal State Los Angeles women’s volleyball program.
(Courtesy of Sage Hill School)

At CSULA, Elliott will be coached by Juan Figueroa, who is also her club coach with A4 Volleyball.

Volleyball might have been a considerable underdog for the sport that Elliott would end up playing in college at the time that she began high school.

“It was kind of hard because basketball, I’ve been playing basketball for as long as I can remember,” Elliott said of making her decision. “I was born into a basketball family. My dad played basketball in college. My brothers played basketball, so playing basketball was kind of in my blood.

“I think choosing volleyball wasn’t the most-clear path, but I think I did it for me so that I can continue with this new passion that I found.”

A pair of Wave League soccer standouts made their commitments official in Fountain Valley forward Malachi Wright (Cal State San Marcos) and Huntington Beach outside defender Slater Hammer (Humboldt State).

Marina’s Marikay Schwab (Cal State Fullerton) and Makena Castillo (UC Irvine) signed with collegiate women’s cross-country and track programs. The senior duo led the Vikings to an undefeated run through the Huntington Beach Union High School District dual meets when cross-country was the first high school sport to return from the coronavirus pandemic-induced sports stoppage.

Edison athletic director Rich Boyce speaks during a spring signing day ceremony.
Edison athletic director Rich Boyce speaks during a spring signing day ceremony.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Below is a list of local athletes who have committed through Wednesday:

EDISON

Jeremy Alcorn, Southern Nazarene University football

Jacob Bailey, Biola University men’s swimming

Braeden Boyles, Benedictine College football

Emily Bredek, Old Dominion University women’s soccer

Ali Bryant, Colorado Mesa University women’s lacrosse

Melissa Carpenter, Westcliff University cheerleading

Sophia Drake, St. Mary’s College women’s soccer

Ryan Easterday, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology football

Savannah Frahm, University of Jamestown (N.D.) women’s swimming

Jenna Gorden, Oregon Tech softball

Lucy Granger, UC San Diego women’s soccer

Cassandra Hitch, George Fox University women’s tennis

Erin Johnson, University of North Dakota women’s golf

Evan Knipe, Long Beach State baseball

Jack Kosick, University of Pennsylvania football

Blakely Malpass, Davenport University women’s lacrosse

Izabella Martinez, University of Hawaii, Manoa softball

Emma Mendoza, Cal State Monterey Bay softball

Riley O’Brien, University of Montana women’s soccer

Jacob Parsons, UC Davis football

Jackie Peterson, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Ariz.) women’s soccer

Harrison Potts, North Park University men’s volleyball

Blaze Roche, Westcliff College surfing

Rylee Siegel, Grand Canyon University women’s lacrosse

David Singer, Purdue University at Fort Wayne men’s volleyball

Mary Smith, Haverford College (Pa.) field hockey

Zoe Soukup, Northern Vermont University women’s lacrosse

Melanie Wieland, Georgetown College women’s lacrosse

Jason You, UC Santa Cruz men’s tennis

ESTANCIA

Griffin Beth, Concordia University men’s water polo

Taylor Demarais, William Penn University men’s soccer

Noah Gniffke, Cal Baptist men’s water polo

FOUNTAIN VALLEY

Juliette Bokor, UC San Diego women’s volleyball

CJ Garcia, Lake Erie College softball

Lauren Mena, Dixie State women’s volleyball

Samara Ortega, Hampton University softball

Connor Trapp, Montana State Billings men’s soccer

Max Wilner, Arizona State wrestling

Malachi Wright, Cal State San Marcos men’s soccer

HUNTINGTON BEACH

Allie Bjork, San Jose State women’s volleyball

Slater Hammer, Humboldt State men’s soccer

Elin Mitchel, San Jose State men’s cross-country and track

Mark Muranaka, Chapman University baseball

Keely Tang, Point Loma Nazarene University women’s golf

LAGUNA BEACH

Macie Murphy, Jacksonville University beach volleyball

MARINA

Makena Castillo, UC Irvine women’s cross-country and track

Emily Farlin, University of Akron softball

Briana Gonzalez, Eastern Illinois softball

Mariana Hacebe, Westcliff University cheerleading

Taylor Lane, St. Mary’s softball

Ayden Martinez, Missouri Valley College baseball

David Mashburn, Cal State Northridge baseball

McKenna Pua, Washington State women’s soccer

Kaitlyn Paculba, Oregon women’s soccer

Alicia Rodriguez, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology women’s soccer

Marikay Schwab, Cal State Fullerton women’s cross-country and track

MATER DEI

Kaitlyn Bujajowski, Rutgers University song

Abigail Hampton, Southern Methodist University women’s soccer

Brenden Morris, Colorado Mesa University baseball

Samantha Sloan, Chapman University women’s track and field

Nick Hoffmeyer, Concordia University men’s volleyball

PACIFICA CHRISTIAN

Tommy Morehouse, UC San Diego men’s rowing

Sam Seward, The Master’s University men’s track and field

Jo Snider, Vanguard University women’s soccer

SAGE HILL

Emily Elliott, Cal State Los Angeles women’s volleyball

Sarah Fischer, Babson College women’s swimming and diving

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