DOWNEY - Surrounded by flashing cameras, screaming classmates, and tearful coaches and parents, 12 student athletes at Downey High School accepted college scholarships last month during a special signing celebration inside the campus auditorium. With standing room-only available in the theater, one by one athletic coaches introduced their students, praising their achievements and wishing them well as they prepare to enter collegiate sports.
"We're super proud - they're not just doing it on the field, but they're leaders on campus," said Mark Rand, athletic director at Downey High School. "It acknowledges what they've done and what the parents have done. We've got some underclassmen athletes in there. We want to show them the model we want them to follow."
From track and field to softball, this year's list of committed athletes is diverse, reflecting a wide range of athletic talent. While the majority will attend local colleges and universities, some have accepted scholarships to universities out-of-state.
Linebacker Ralph Regalado and receiver Anthony Gonzalez have both accepted football scholarships to Greenville College in Greenville, Illinois while starting softball catcher Jazmyne Cortinas, baseball pitcher Anthony Cortez, and pole vaulter Andrew Gonzalez will attend Cal State Northridge.
Giovanna Dan, an accomplished dancer and athlete, accepted a dance scholarship from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Sprinter Jasmine Johnson will attend Vangaurd University in the fall and Garrett Neilan will play basketball for Hope International University in Fulleton.
Right fielder Desirae Romero accepted a softball scholarship from Midland College in Texas.
Heather Schnars, who's played varsity volleyball since her freshman year, will now represent the University of Central Arkansas and two-year MVP Rayana Villalpando will play basketball at Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Football standout Jabari Ruffin already signed with University of Southern California earlier this year. With scholarships becoming scarcer, coaches are being proactive, creating videos and sending them out in the hopes of nabbing scholarships for their students.
Rand said school staff and counselors identify kids with potential based on athletics, academic achievement and character.
"One out of 100 student athletes gets offered a scholarship," he said. "Jabari Ruffin, people knew about him, but for many of the others we sent out letters and highlight videos.
"One of the things we've done is piloted classes for our student athletes. Students learn about creating videos, putting them on the internet, sending e-mails...we make them become active in pursuing scholarships," said Rand.
The study skills course also teaches students about the requirements and grades necessary to earn scholarships, Rand said.
"We have 12 this year, we had seven last year. Hopefully, it'll double next year. Obviously, we're looking for bigger and better things."
WARREN HIGH SCHOOL
Warren High School celebrated the accomplishments of ten student/athletes at the 3rd Annual Athletic Signing/Recognition ceremony.
These student athletes will be attending Division I, Division III and NAIA schools this Fall and play in the same sports that they excelled in at Warren.
These athletes included James Bettencourt and Ryan McFaddin for football. Bettencourt and McFaddin will both be attending Division III Whittier College and play for the Poets in the Fall.
Standout water polo player and swimmer Ivana Castro will be attending and playing for Division I Loyola Marymount University while Aaron Chavez will play baseball for the Biola University Golden Eagles, an NAIA school.
Tina Iosefa, catcher for the Bears softball team, will attend and play softball for the Division I power Georgia Bulldogs. Standout shortstop Arianna Palomares will be attend college and play for the Division I Gauchos at U.C. Santa Barbara.
Alec Dominguez will be running cross country at Division I U.C. Santa Barbara in the Fall while Bear teammate Omar Torres will be running cross country at Division I Chico State. Melissa Quintero will be running cross country at Azusa Pacific, an NAIA school, and Danielle Rodriguez will take her basketball talents to the next level at the University of Utah.
The Warren High School faculty and staff are extremely proud of these student- athletes as they begin the next chapter in their lives. The hard work, dedication and self-discipline each of these students have learned at Warren High School will serve them well now, as well as in their futures. Good luck to all.
********** Published: June 14, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 09