29 La Jolla athletes sign Letters of Intent at Petco Park

La Jolla High School athletes, back row: Kayla Nitahara, Dana Waldburger, Brea Tyrus, Cole Atwell and Morgan Watson; front row: Maya Lightfoot, Talia Freund, Evan Lewis, Jensine Bugelli, Monohan Cromeans, and Nathaniel Gates.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Of the record-setting 260 student-athletes that signed Letters of Intent the morning of Nov. 14 at Petco Park, more than 10 percent were from La Jolla schools. A whopping 15 athletes from The Bishop’s School, 11 from La Jolla High School and three from La Jolla Country Day School all signed letters announcing the college and sport they committed to.

Every year, during Signing Day, students from all sports (except football, which has its Signing Day in February) sign letters committing to at least one year of college to play their respective sport. And for the second year, these student-athletes got their moment in the sun at Petco Park, home to the San Diego Padres baseball team, when they were called up school-by-school to give each one the opportunity to announce their sport and college.

The Bishop’s School Knights who signed letters include: Kate Bolitho (UC Berkeley - crew), Pierce Dietze (Harvard University - swimming), Ford Eldredge (Santa Clara University - water polo), Alex Estey (Skidmore College - volleyball), Oscar Hertz (Brown University - lacrosse), Athena Leota (Colgate University - volleyball), Kendall Lincoln (Wellesley College - soccer), Shelby Maier (University of Georgia - softball), Marley Meyer (UC Berkeley - field hockey), Daniel Massaad (Yale University - soccer), Matthew Mu (Brown University - tennis), Leah Parsons (Northwestern University - diving), Merle Richman (Naval Academy - water polo, Melanie Schwimmer (Amherst College - field hockey) and Michael Xu (Brown University - men’s swimming).

Bishop’s School athletes, back row: Alex Estey, Marley Meyer, Melanie Schwimmer, Merle Richman; front row, Ford Eldredge, Athena Leota, Leah Parsons and Shelby Maier. Ashley Mackin-Solomon

The La Jolla High School Vikings who signed letters include: Nathaniel Gates (Stanford – volleyball), Cole Atwell (Brown - water polo), Jensine Bugelli (UC Irvine - water polo), Brea Tyrus (Colorado Mesa University – golf), Kayla Nitahara (Columbia – lacrosse), Evan Lewis (NYU – soccer), Monohan Cromeans (Arizona State – volleyball), Morgan Watson (Colorado Mesa University – lacrosse), Dana Waldburger (Cal Berkely - beach volleyball), Maya Lightfoot (Tufts – volleyball) and Talia Freund (Bradeis University – volleyball).

The La Jolla Country Day School Torreys who signed letters include: Ryan Langborg (Princeton - basketball), Alex Steigerwald (Cornell - baseball), and Wynton Bastian (Providence - lacrosse).

Wynton Bastian (Providence - lacrosse), Alex Steigerwald (Cornell - baseball) and Ryan Langborg (Princeton - basketball) announce their colleges and sports. Ashley Mackin-Solomon

Two students that live in La Jolla, but attend Francis Parker, also signed letters of intent: Michael Campagna (UC Davis - baseball) and Berkley Hayes (Syracuse University in New York - volleyball).

As part of the festivities, retired two-time world boxing champion (and the only native San Diegan to hold the honor) Paul “The Ultimate” Vaden addressed the athletes, their coaches and families. Vaden held the IBF light middleweight championship from Aug. 12, 1995 to Dec. 16, 1995 and compiled a professional record of 29-3 with 16 knockout victories, and one loss.

“I’m very proud of you all for getting to this time in your lives, “ he told the students. “It’s an exciting time that should be nourished and enjoyed. There are two words that are very powerful to me, something I try to live by: believe and become.”

He explained: “To ‘believe’ in yourself when no one else does, when you have odds against you … and people trying to pull you back, to have belief in yourself and see the sunlight even in the darkest days is very powerful. To ‘become,’ you have to work hard, you have to listen, you have to nourish and adapt, you have to be a great teammate and see yourself overcoming in torrential times.

“And as you start to reach those levels and improve as an athlete, it is even more important to invest that same stick-to-itiveness, that passion, that drive, to being a better person.”

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