We know how special signing day is for players and their families and we do our best to make it special for them. In tomorrow’s paper, we’ve got a special spread we think everyone is going to enjoy, full of pictures and recognition for all the athletes that signed in football and other sports. In football, I’d like to share what we did in preparation for today’s events. We invited football signees from the Whittier, Pasadena and Tribune coverage areas to the best stadium in all of college football, the Rose Bowl, for pictures and some Q&A. Here is a sneak preview of what we did, and a special thanks to the Rose Bowl for being so gracious with us.
We are shooting non-football athletes signing today at the Star-News TODAY. Want to be part of our group photo? E-mail me ASAP at firstname.lastname@example.org. Here’s who we have so far….
Send us your pictures: If you have pictures from today’s signings at the school, I will post them if you send them to me at email@example.com
Above: La Salle’s Kishon Sanders signs his NLOI to UTEP alongside his mother, La Salle coach Antoine Peterson Sr. and La Salle athletic director John Matheus.
FOOTBALL (Already pictured)
Patrick Carroll (St. Francis) UNLV
Kishon Sanders (La Salle) UTEP
Ammar Moussa (Arcadia) Colorado
Catrina McAlister (Arcadia) Colorado
Sam Pons (South Pasadena) Princeton
Cameron Meeker (La Canada) Sacramento State
Aram Bagramyan (La Canada) Long Island University
Samantha Whitehead (La Salle) St. John’s
Lori Cuerington (La Salle) Cleveland State
Brooks Elby (Flintridge Prep) North Carolina
Taylor French (Maranatha) Cal State Bakersfield
Natalie Zeenni (Flintridge Sacred Heart) New Mexico
Annie Wenzlau (San Marino) St. Mary’s College
CLICK ON THREAD TO READ STORY
Below: A group shot of signees from the Whittier Daily News, Pasadena Star-News and San Gabriel Valley Tribune ciruclation areas. Congrats all.
By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer
Some of the best high school athletes in the West San Gabriel Valley made their college choices official Wednesday, national letter of intent signing day.
What started as an informal inquiry turned out to be one of the best birthday presents for La Salle High School’s Samantha Whitehead. The speedy forward on the Lancers’ soccer team will make the move to Queens, N.Y., and play at St. John’s University.
It was during a college soccer showcase in Las Vegas that her father casually mentioned how good a school was St. John’s. Whitehead took the initiative, from researching the school to e-mailing the coach and convinced her parents to take her to New York for an unofficial visit. Before she knew it, St. John’s invited Whitehead for an official visit and offered a scholarship Aug. 17 of last year, her 17th birthday. She said she knows she’ll have to get used to the weather, but that will come easier than her parents adjusting to her moving across the country.
“They’re having a hard time,” she said, “but they understand I need to go and experience something new and different. They’re very supportive.”
Flintridge Prep’s Brooke Elby said she wasn’t sure about playing college soccer, given the small size of her soccer club, but when North Carolina came calling Elby answered.
“When they started recruiting me, I really started to think I could play college soccer,” she said. “It was exciting they were contacting me because you know about their rich history and the national championships.”
Elby said the area’s picturesque scenery sealed the deal when she made her official visit.
Maranatha’s Taylor French fielded offers to play soccer at Iowa, Pepperdine and St. Mary’s, but it was Cal State Bakersfield that won her over with its heavy involvement even after she tore her right anterior cruciate ligament in October.
“They told me they were not going to take away my scholarship,” French said. “It’s nice when they remain loyal to you, and that was big.”
Flintridge Sacred Heart’s Natalie Zeenni was all set on playing soccer at Cal State Long Beach. She said she decided to visit New Mexico as a favor to Tologs co-head coach Frank Pace.
“Literally within the hour I was set on committing,” Zeenni said of New Mexico. “I was sold on the college- town atmosphere and the mountain climate. I’m not really a city person.”
She also said the hardest part was notifying Cal State Long Beach she was not going there after all.
“They gave me the option to commit before I visited New Mexico,” Zeenni said, “but I didn’t. It was really tough having to call and tell (Long Beach) I was going to New Mexico, because the coach is really a nice guy.”
San Marino’s Annie Wenzlau will play soccer at St. Mary’s College. She said the choice partially was because of the Gaels’ basketball success.
“They made it to the Sweet 16 in basketball and that is how I heard of it,” she said. “It was, like, perfect. It’s a beautiful school and a perfect location. It is, like, everything in one school.”
Arcadia’s Ammar Moussa and Catrina McAlister, coming off stellar cross country careers, will attend the University of Colorado.
Moussa and McAlister said the choice to run at the same college was mere coincidence. They fielded strong offers from Oregon, North Carolina and Stanford. McAlister also had Washington on her list.
Moussa led the Apaches this season to CIF-Southern Section Division 1, CIF State and Nike Cross Country National championships. McAlister won the Stanford and Woodbridge Invitationals and was a Foot Locker Nationals finalist.
In the end, it was the confidence Moussa and McAlister bestowed on Colorado coach Mark Wetmore that proved the difference.
“They were comfortable about his ability to take them to the next level, international running,” Arcadia coach Jim O’Brien said.
Moussa, the two-time CIF-SS Division 1 and CIF State champion, said he was reminded of home during his official trip to Colorado.
“The team reminds me of my team,” said Moussa, the reigning Gatorade California Runner of the Year. “They’re real diverse. I liked the atmosphere and the altitude training.”
McAlister said the “great history with coach (Wetmore)” is what earned her trust and signature.
South Pasadena’s Sam Pons, arguably the school’s most successful runner, is headed to Princeton.
Star-News boys soccer Player of the Year Matthew Canatta will play at the University of Hartford. He’s totaled
18 goals and 14 assists for the Spartans this season.
Fellow senior Aram Bagramyan, a specialist on the defensive backline, signed with Long Island University.