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Moving up to the next level

List of athletes includes surprises

Posted: August 11, 2009 9:55 p.m.
Updated: August 12, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Valencia graduate Aly Drake (10) battles for the ball against Golden Valley on Dec. 16. She is one of 41 confirmed Foothill League scholarship athletes.

This season, 41 Foothill League athletes earned either partial or full scholarships to play their respective sports in college as reported to The Signal.

But this list wasn’t just a standard rundown of names.

There were surprises, mostly in regards to football.

One team had its first Division I commitments, while another did not record one for only the second time in its coach’s lengthy tenure.

West Ranch quarterback Jake Bernards signed on to play at San Diego State and lineman Robert Waterman committed to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Just one year ago, West Ranch High School earned its first-ever athletic scholarship when soccer player Gina Tumasone signed her letter of intent to the University of Hawaii-Hilo.

That number has increased notably.

The Wildcats’ nine confirmed commitments include four soccer players, two football players, one swimmer, one tennis player and one baseball player, with the potential for more as the summer rolls on, according to athletic director Dody Garcia.

“All the kids that signed are 3.0 (grade point average) and above,” Garcia said. “They are smart. They are good kids. They are obviously very good athletes. ... Bottom line, the kids are earning them.”

On the flip side, Hart football, a mainstay among the Foothill League elite, didn’t have any Division I commitments.

“This was only the second time in my 20 years (as head coach at Hart High) that we didn’t have someone,” said Indians head coach Mike Herrington.

However, quarterback Spenser Souza, who was also an infielder on the baseball team, was invited to play football at Cornell University of the Ivy League.

The Ivy League does not give out scholarships.

The last time the program failed to produce a scholarship athlete was 2006, Herrington said.

However, the Indians picked things up in baseball, landing four scholarships in the sport.

Overall, the top sport in the Foothill League was girls soccer, which produced 10 scholarships.

Baseball produced eight, followed by softball with six, football with five, girls swimming with three, boys swimming and boys tennis with two and girls basketball, boys track and field and boys golf each with one.

In addition, Saugus High’s Travis Langham earned a gymnastics scholarship to Air Force, where he will join former Saugus quarterback Desi Rodriguez, who committed to the football team.

Valencia graduate Aly Drake falls into her own category, earning 70 percent of her full scholarship to the University of San Francisco to play soccer and 30 percent to run track.

The final 30 percent was awarded two weeks after her CIF-Southern Section Division I title in the 800-meter run — just a few days before she won the CIF state championship in the same event.

In the end, there were 15 scholarships confirmed from Hart, nine from West Ranch, eight from Saugus, five from Valencia, three from Canyon and one from Golden Valley.

According to Grizzlies co-athletic director Robert Fisher, softball player Brianna Melero earned the school’s third-ever athletic scholarship.

Golden Valley alum Jordan Yallen was drafted in the 47th round by the Chicago White Sox, but elected to play baseball on scholarship at Gonzaga University, a scholarship he brought into his senior year after transferring to the school.

Ask Garcia and she’ll tell you why the number of scholarships awarded has increased.

“I just can’t say enough about our coaches,” Garcia said. “They are dedicated. They know their sport. They put in a lot of extra time enhancing, going to clinics. They are good teachers. They provide all the essentials for the kids.”


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