By Kyle LoJacono
Nine Steinbrenner seniors sat at the same table, waiting to make their college plans official Feb. 6, National Signing Day.
Three football, two soccer, two softball and one volleyball player, along with one swimmer, participated in the event, ensuring they will continue competing the next few years while setting a new record for signees at one ceremony in the school’s history.
“It warms my heart to see them rewarded for their achievements, not only as an athlete, but also as scholars,” said Warriors athletic director Eddie Henderson. “It’s interesting to see how this has grown in four years. I remember the first one we had two athletes signed, so to see this grow to a large number is a great thing.”
The signees are not only part of Steinbrenner’s first four-year graduating class, but the nine have spent all their high school years as Warriors.
Gridiron trio go Division-I route
Running back Kendall Pearcey, corner back Trey Johnson and wide receiver Jon Marc Carrier started their football careers together, so it was fitting that they signed on the same day, all with Division I programs.
Pearcey signed with Fordham University in New York, Johnson inked with Villanova University in Pennsylvania and Carrier picked Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.
“I’ve known these guys since we were in elementary school,” said Pearcey, who will major in engineering/physics. “The fact that we all kept playing, became successful and now we’re playing in college for a sport that we love is amazing.”
The three picked up the game with the Carrollwood Hurricanes at age 6 and helped build the Warriors football program from the ground up.
“When we started we couldn’t even practice at the school,” Johnson said. “We had to workout at Martinez (Middle) without a weight room doing Army workouts outside.”
For Carrier, signing with Dartmouth was bigger than signing to play for the Ivy League program. He started this school year with a 5.41 weighted grade point average and said his parents stressed education.
“I know going to Ivy League makes my parents really proud,” said Carrier, who will study biomedical engineering. “To go Ivy League is a dream.”
Pearcey and Johnson said the academics were also big in their college choices.
“My parents have always said if the NFL doesn’t work out, you have to have something to fall back on,” Johnson said. “Going to Villanova gives me a really good Plan B.”
Bredeau, Opila sticking together
Girls soccer player Alexis Bredeau couldn’t contain her excitement during the hours leading up to Signing Day.
“I was actually running around the house this morning; I was so excited,” said Bredeau, who will study nutrition. “When I was walking from the parking lot normally I’m dead tired, but I was hanging all over my friends. I’m really excited to start my next four years.”
The program’s all-time leader with 89 goals signed with her teammate Marley Opila to play at the University of North Florida (UNF), a Division I program in Jacksonville.
Opila, a midfielder, originally committed to Jacksonville University, one of UNF’s rivals in the Atlantic Sun Conference, but switched to the Ospreys near the end of her senior season.
“I’m looking forward to it so much because we know each other and can rely on each other,” said Opila, who will study nursing. “Before we joked around about playing against each other, but now we don’t have to worry about that.”
Bredeau, a forward, added, “If she would have been at Jacksonville I would have just messed with her the whole game, but because she’s my teammate I can mess with her the whole year. That makes it even better.”
The duo is part of a senior class that made the playoffs four times, won three district titles and claimed the 2011 Class 4A state championship.
Signed, but still out for more
Softball players Annemarie Scios and Taylor Morrow echoed the same message at Signing Day.
While they are both relieved to have their college plans official, both are out to work even harder to make their senior season the program’s best.
“We want to win districts,” said Morrow, who will study sports medicine. “We won it our freshman year and made it to regionals last year when we finished second.”
Morrow signed with Central Florida Community College in Ocala, while Scios will play first base/designated hitter at Brevard Community College in Cocoa.
“I was so excited this morning, but also a little nervous,” said Scios, who will study pediatric physical therapy. “When I was sitting up there I was just thinking I get to really do this. … I’ve only played for five years, so I had to work really hard to catch up to some players who’ve been playing their whole life.”
Morrow started playing at age 6 and has always been a utility player.
“It’s very enjoyable to be able to play every position,” Morrow said. “I like being able to fill in for whatever position is needed — catcher, infield, outfield, wherever.”
Defense powers Seuzeneau
Volleyball player Madison Seuzeneau entered her senior year with the goal of becoming an all-around player.
The outside hitter was already the program’s all-time leader in kills, but she was regularly subbed out when she rotated to the back row because of her defense.
“A lot of colleges need for an outside to be an all-around player, so I definitely focused on defense this year,” Seuzeneau said. “That really helped me get this scholarship.”
Her skills have improved to the point that she may see time at defensive specialist at Springhill College, an NAIA school in Alabama, with the plans to minor in business and major in communications.
Seuzeneau is the only four-year varsity player in program history. She helped Steinbrenner win four district titles and make the regional finals in November.
Volz becomes program’s first
Emma Volz became the first swimmer, boys or girls, from Steinbrenner to sign with a college when she inked with Florida Atlantic University, a Division I program currently in the Sun Belt Conference.
“It’s pretty cool being the first one to ever sign,” Volz said.
Volz said swimming in college has been a dream since she first hit the pool at age 4.
“My breakthrough in swimming was in fourth or fifth grade when I got my first Olympic cut, which is something you qualify for with certain times,” Volz said. “That’s when swimming became my ultimate passion.”
Volz will compete in the distance events while studying marine biology.
—Follow Kyle LoJacono on Twitter: @Kyle_Laker
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