Signing day reinvigorates local athletes after the pandemic impacted their sports
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).
“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.”
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.
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.
Below is a list of local athletes who have committed through Wednesday:
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
Griffin Beth, Concordia University men’s water polo
Taylor Demarais, William Penn University men’s soccer
Noah Gniffke, Cal Baptist men’s water polo
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
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
Macie Murphy, Jacksonville University beach volleyball
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
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
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
Emily Elliott, Cal State Los Angeles women’s volleyball
Sarah Fischer, Babson College women’s swimming and diving
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