Smiles? Check. Beaming parents? Check. New college T-shirts and caps? Check.
All the staples of a happy signing day were in place at Palm Desert High School on Wednesday as four student-athletes, all from the girls’ soccer team, signed their National Letters of Intent to continue playing at the college level.
Four, count ’em, four Aztecs from the talented girls’ soccer squad put pen to paper in front of a nice crowd of friends and relatives in the foyer outside the gym at Palm Desert High School.
The honorees were Alyssa Granados, who is headed to UNLV; Jane Jordan, who is going to UC Riverside; Afton Kalkoske, who will attend Towson University in Maryland; and goalkeeper Alexandra Fabela, who will play at Cal State University at San Marcos.
“I can’t believe there’s four of us, in fact it’s pretty funny because we have a goalkeeper, defender, midfielder and forward, so it’s like all up and down the line,” Kalkoske said. “It feels surreal. I’ve seen teammates in the past do this, and I’ve always dreamed of playing soccer in college, and now that’s it happening, it’s like I can’t believe it’s really me, and I’m so grateful to all the people that have helped me achieve that.”
With four college-bound players, it’s no surprise the Aztecs are the No. 1 team in Division 5, with four games remaining in the regular season. But before they look ahead to the rest of the season, particularly a Feb. 6 date with rival La Quinta, they took time to bask in the glow of the notion that they will be playing at the college level.
For Jordan, the moment was about following in a relative’s footsteps.
“Super pumped, really excited to finally be official and finally get out there,” Jordan said. “My aunt, she was a really big influence on me because she played soccer in college as well (Cal State Stanislaus) so I’m super-excited to fulfill my dream since I was a kid of playing at the collegiate level, super-excited about that.”
Granados didn’t think Wednesday would ever come.
“I’m so happy, I’ve been waiting forever for it,” she said, noting that she’s known she would be a Runnin’ Rebel for a little while now. “I felt like it was never going to come, and then it went so quick, but it was great to be here and to do it with teammates, and family all around. It’s a great day and it hasn’t really sunk in yet.”
Fabela said for her it was all about the campus and the feel at CSU-San Marcos. That’s what drew her in.
“When I visited, the coaches were so welcoming and I loved the vibe there, really everything about it,” Fabela said, adding that she also feels like she’ll be given a fair shot to earn the starting goalkeeper job. “They seemed very I guess I’d say unbiased about who will start, whether it’s me or the two other keepers that will be back. It sounds like whoever is the best out of the three keepers will get the job, and I like the sound of that.”
As you might imagine, head coach Chris Keuilian was pretty proud of his players. He was struggling to hold his emotions in check as he thought about how long he’s known some of these players, going back to when they were 9- or 10-years-old playing youth soccer.
“It’s amazing, this morning when we faxed in and verified everything I was getting chills,” he said. “I’ve known some of these girls for a long time. Heck, I’ve known Afton’s family since before she was born, so to see them be able to make these choices and know they’re going to play in college. It’s great. It’s a special moment.”