Even though the current coronavirus pandemic has consumed the lives of many, high school seniors across the country are still making one of the most important decisions of their life — where they will be taking their talents next year.
For four local athletes at San Marcos High, they spread the good news via a Zoom call on Wednesday morning.
Principal Kip Glazer, Athletic Director Abe Jahadhmy, long-time coach Aaron Solis as well as other coaches and parents gathered on the call to celebrate Riley Christen, Connor Hess, Hunter May and Jayden Francis.
“To all of you, congratulations,” Mr. Jahadamy said to start the zoom call.
“It’s awesome that you’re doing this. It’s unfortunate that we have to do it this way, but we’re making the best of the situation. We’re proud of you as Royals, you’ll always be Royals and you’re going to make us proud.”
Christen, a member of the girls water polo team, will head to Fresno State, where she will be continuing her career in the pool.
The senior was the starting goalkeeper on a Royals team that was stacked with Div. 1 talent, however, did not play a single game during her final campaign due to an injury to her right elbow.
She will be getting Tommy John surgery to repair her throwing arm and be ready to play for the Bulldogs.
“I’m really excited. I mean I really wish I could have played this year but I couldn’t really stop the injury from happening, but I know I have four more years at a great university. I love the coach and I love the team which I’m really excited about,” Christen told the News-Press.
Despite not playing, Christen still provided excellent support to Zosia Amberger, who stepped into the starting role this year and played well, becoming one of the better keepers in Southern California.
“Unfortunately, her injury was a real setback in her career but she handled it with the utmost maturity and leadership. She mentored a young goalie and really coached her into being one of the best keepers in Southern California,” Coach Chuckie Roth said.
Hess, who was a defender on the boys soccer team, decided to continue his playing career just a few minutes away at Westmont College.
Hess was also a part of the track team who had its season cut short due to the current pandemic.
“I’m loving it and I mean I’ve grown up with the Westmont community there. I’ve trained with Josh Brewster and that’s who I’m going to be training under mostly. So, it really feels natural, and it’ll be great because I’m going to be staying in town and continuing in the connections that I have,” Hess said.
Hess was a captain on the boys soccer team and was also a very key component to the track team, according to his coach Marilyn Hantgin.
“He really can do anything for the team, and he would have done it. He’s just such a quality person. He recruits kids to come out, he supports them, he really thinks about others before himself, and I think that’s one of his best qualities, along with just working really hard, and just being an example on an off field so he’s exceptional. The Hess family has been wonderful,” Hantgin said.
Swimmers May and Francis also made their decision Wednesday with the former deciding to attend Cal Baptist University and the latter choosing the University of Chicago. The swim season was also cut short due to COVID-19.
“It was unfortunate that it got cut short. We got to do one meet and then that was pretty much it. That meet ended up going really well so I was happy with it but it is unfortunate that we didn’t get to continue the rest of our season,” Francis said.
For Francis, he knew he wanted to venture outside California for the next four years and to bring himself some new experiences.
“I just think it’s a good life experience to get out there and experience something new and see what I think about it. I love Santa Barbara but I think this is a good choice for me,” Francis said.
As for May, his decision to attend Cal Baptist came after some tug and pull, but ultimately, his sister, Sequoia, who also attends CBU helped him make up his mind.
“I was really considering Cal Lutheran but after my visit, it just changed my mind,” May said.
“I’m so excited for the swim season my freshman year because we didn’t get to compete and just meet new people and make memories.”
Including Wednesday’s four, 14 San Marcos athletes have signed letters of intent to play collegiately.