College signings are always bittersweet — parents and coaches proud to watch their athletes move on to the next level, but still sad to see them go.
And Gaither High School has a strong contingent of athletes heading on to college with scholarships, including four who officially signed with their respective schools last week.
Brad Smith and Bryan Hartman, part of a Cowboys football team that went 5-6 this season, will find themselves playing together next fall as well. Smith, a defensive end and inside linebacker, and Hartman — an inside linebacker — will head to Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
“Football isn’t easy nowadays, especially all year round,” head coach Jason Stokes said. “The thing that I know that these young men are going to be successful is just because of their attitude. They do whatever it takes for their teams. They lay it on the line, they play multiple positions, and they don’t come off the field.”
Also heading to college is Veronica Garcia, one of the leaders of Gaither’s volleyball team, who will spend next season at Ave Maria University, located on the northwest side of Alligator Alley in South Florida.
“The best thing I can say about Veronica is that she loves to play volleyball,” coach Tim Boylan said. “I’m so happy for her that she’ll be able to continue playing at the next level. It’s not work for her. She just loves being on a volleyball court.”
Randy Oliva won’t stray too far from home, either. He’s heading to Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, where he’ll play baseball for the Owls.
“He’s a hardworking guy,” Gaither baseball coach Frank Permuy said. “He’s the first guy on the field, and the last guy to leave every day. He’s one of the guys that always makes me late for dinner.”
Oliva started as a catcher for the Cowboys, but was playing third base by the time his freshman year ended. He moved to second base in his junior year because of an injury, and ended his time at Gaither at shortstop.
“He’s going to have a wonderful career, and not only that, he is a great student,” Permuy said. “He isn’t going to have any problems in college because his work ethic is going to carry him a long way.”
Published May 28, 2014
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