Wednesday was National Letter of Intent Day, perhaps the fastest growing “holiday” on the sports landscape.
Several Stanislaus District athletes put pen to paper and committed to play at various universities throughout the nation.
Three of those athletes hail from Modesto Christian, where athletic excellence is nothing new – the Crusaders have one graduate (Chuck Hayes) currently in the NBA and two others (Isaiah Burse, Zach Sudfeld) on NFL rosters. Having three student-athletes sign to play at Division I colleges is quite an accomplishment for any school, let alone one with an enrollment of about 150.
“These are three really great student-athletes,” said MC girls basketball coach Robb Spencer, who guided the Crusaders to the state’s Division III championship last season. “They’re high-character kids and the whole campus loves all of them. As a coach, that’s what you want as role models. You just hope the kids on campus see the same thing.”
Candice White, who sat out all but the final three games of the season after tearing the ACL in her right knee, signed with Fresno State, while classmates Jeff Wu signed to play basketball at Sacramento State and Anthony Townes made good on the verbal commitment he made to the University of the Pacific hoops program nearly a year ago.
“The pressure has been taken off and I’m just excited to be a Tiger,” said the 6-foot-7, Townes, the Most Valuable Player in the Trans-Valley League last season. “I can’t wait to get started next year.”
Wu will be joined on the Hornets’ roster by Sierra’s 6-7 center Joshua Patton, who shared center stage at his school’s signing ceremony with Haley Silva, a cross country runner who will attend UOP.
Gia Rodoni became the first player in Pacheco’s brief history – the school opened its doors in 2010 – to sign a Division I scholarship, beating out classmate Frank Ginda, a football player who made a verbal commitment to San Jose State but can’t sign until February.
Rodoni chose to play softball at Baylor University, one of the top 10 softball programs in the country last season. She had to sit out a portion of the season last spring due to her transfer from Central Catholic but finished the season with a 0.59 ERA and 157 strikeouts in 71 innings.
Other district softball signees include Hughson’s Jessica Garcia, who will attend Oregon State, and her newest rival, East Union’s Cherish Burks, who signed to play at Oregon. Garcia’s teammates Mackenzie Babbitt (Cal State Northridge), Savannah Ahumada (Dakota Wesleyan) and Taylor Lutz (Dominican) also committed Wednesday, as did Ripon’s Darian VanDerMaaten, who chose UC San Diego.
Enochs High wrestler McCoy Kent has made a verbal commitment to attend Northern Illinois, but chose to wait until next week to actually put his name on the dotted line. He’ll sign on Tuesday at 2:45 p.m. in the school gymnasium.
Pitman’s Lindsey Vander Weide, the reigning Central California Conference MVP and an All-American selection by the American Volleyball Coaches Association, will wait until after the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs to make it official with Oregon. Teammate Maddy Halteman also is waiting to sign.