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By Zach Cavanagh
There were many paths taken to National Signing Day for the nine athletes presented at San Juan Hills High School on Feb. 7.
Some were years-long commitments like Jennifer McFadden who will be playing soccer at Air Force. Other offers didn’t materialize until their senior season, like football’s Matt Rodriguez who will quarterback at New Mexico-Highlands.
One came even later still like Isaiah Grover’s preferred walk-on offer to play football at Boise State, an offer that came around only after his performance in the O.C. All-Star Classic on Jan. 27.
Whichever the route taken, the feelings are similar for all.
“It’s just super exciting,” McFadden said. “I’ve been waiting for this moment since March of my sophomore year. I’ve been working my butt off since then because it’s such a hard school to get into. I’m super relieved and super excited to go to such an amazing school in an amazing place.”
McFadden has been on all-league lists since she was a freshman and had early attention that led to an early decision on Air Force. The work wasn’t done as McFadden still had to get in, but she met that goal.
“It’s very validating,” Jennifer’s dad, David McFadden, said. “She’s a great example to her younger brothers because they’re really working hard because they see if you put the work in, it’ll pay off in the end.”
Rodriguez had been in and out of the starting quarterback position the past two seasons. After throwing for over 3,000 yards and 24 touchdowns in his junior and senior seasons, he started to get some contact during his senior season that ramped up as the season progressed.
“High school isn’t the easiest for everybody,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs. It’s meant everything to finally get this paper signed and get that name down. Ready to move on to the next chapter in my life, excited to play football and go on to the next level.”
The recruiting process can be hectic on the athlete and their family, especially a late-developing one like Rodriguez’s.
“It’s been pretty crazy, the way things develop,” Matt’s dad, Monte Rodriquez, said, “So we’re kind of scrambling to see what do we do, how do we do it, trying to seek out the best advice we could. Then really just trying to make the best decision for Matt and his career and his education.”
Each athlete has made their best decision and now set their sights on college careers.
There were 30 student-athletes across San Juan Capistrano’s high schools that signed national letters of intent on Feb. 7. Here is the full roster listed alphabetically with sport and school:
San Juan Hills
Conner Crotty (Baseball, Holy Cross). Isaiah Grover (Football, Boise State, Preferred Walk-On), Natalie Herring (Soccer, Transylvania University), Jennifer McFadden (Soccer, Air Force), Jack Monach (Soccer, University of California-Irvine), Matthew Rodriguez (Football, New Mexico-Highlands), Kaleigh Santmyer (Softball, St. Olaf College), Grant Vurpillat (Baseball, New Jersey Institute of Technology), Claire Welter (Lacrosse, Kent State)
Nick Aquino (Soccer, Concordia), Jack Bolduc (Football, Nevada-Reno), Skylar Giacobetti (Soccer, Purdue), Taylor Gosselin (Soccer, Auburn), Sam Guinane (Soccer, Notre Dame), Jake Haggard (Football, Penn), Morgan Hebard (Soccer, Army-West Point), Mahea Heimuli (Soccer, Yale), Malik McClain (Football, University of Southern California), TJ Medina (Football, Air Force), Joe Miraglia (Lacrosse, Belmont Abbey), Jake Parks (Football, University of California Davis), Matt Robinson (Football, Illinois), Dylan Shockey (Soccer, LMU).
Conrad Hampson (Lacrosse, Colby College), Andrew Maita (Lacrosse, Washington and Lee), Lauren McCaffrey (Soccer, Northwestern), (Sophie Payne, Soccer, Oberlin College).
Saddleback Valley Christian
Mej Carpentier (Soccer, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo), Lily Dyer (Volleyball, Pepperdine), Jordan Taylor (Basketball, Westmont).
Capistrano Valley Christian (Signed Nov. 8)
Alec Arnone (Baseball, University of California-Riverside), Carson Matthews (Baseball, BYU), Kahley Jaeke, (Volleyball, Washington College).