Madera honors 8 college signings


Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune

Madera High School Athletic Director John Fernandez speaks to the crowd Tuesday during a signing celebration for eight student-athletes playing at a four-year college in the fall.

 

After a long-awaited and impatient delay, Madera High School honored eight graduating student-athletes that have signed National Letters of Intent to play athletics at a four-year school in the fall.


Included in the eight are three that signed last year to go along with some of the more recent additions who were honored Tuesday in Joe Flores Gym.


MHS Athletic Director John Fernandez was able to give the athletes a signing ceremony, albeit a little less subdued, this year after not being able to last year.


“This afternoon was something we’ve been waiting for since the beginning of the school year,” he said. “We thought we would be able to this sooner, but the tier system we’re in just didn’t’ allow it. Just to have the kids here in a limited capacity is pretty cool. It’s good for them and to finally experience it.”


Over the past six years Fernandez has been able to send 37 student athletes to a four-year college and that doesn’t include the numerous others who have played at the junior college level. Unfortunately, his biggest class was 2020 with 11 athletes and he wasn’t able to have a ceremony.


This year, he was happy to see all the smiles from the athletes and their families.


“Even in a pandemic, we’re sending eight kids to college,” he said. “It brings comfort to our heart knowing that we’ve been able to provide a positive experience. It’s better than doing something virtually.”


Athletes honored Tuesday were: Isabella Saucedo (Volleyball) Southern Utah University; Bryson Smith (Track), San Jose State; Lealani Ricks (Softball), Howard University; Garrin Hatfield (Swimming and Water Polo), Concordia; Julia Martinez (Cross Country and Track), Chico State; Aislynn Jordan (Softball) Jamestown; Raul Medrano (Football), Luther College; and Nate Martinez (Baseball), Mid-America Christian University.


Even the athletes were happy to have this moment in front of family and friends, especially Saucedo, who was worried she wasn’t going to have this moment when she initially signed last fall.


“I definitely thought about this,” she said. “It’s kind of crazy that it took this long to happen because of COVID and everything. I’m so happy it finally happened. It’s nice to have. It’s bittersweet. I have graduation in two weeks. This makes it even more sad. If I would have had this when I first signed when my senior year started, I think I would have been fine. Now that graduation is two week out, I’m going to go home and cry.”


Saucedo, who will eventually be The Madera Tribune’s Girls Volleyball Most Valuable Player for the third year in a row, enjoyed her time at Madera and is proud to have this moment with her classmates.


“I’m definitely thinking of all the good times and not the bad times,” she said. “It’s all coming back to me. I’m remembering stuff we did my freshman year and it’s like crazy. I’m so obsessed that we did all of this and all of us finally accomplished a lot. It’s not just me, but it’s everybody that signed here. We’ve been wanting this for a long time.”


Ricks wasn’t sure if a signing ceremony was ever going to happen with the COVID pandemic.


“It’s amazing,” she said. “Last year, you wouldn’t think we could have this because of COVID. Now, it’s all great how it evolved. We’re able to have people here and are able to have the ceremony. It’s a great appreciation. I got to have my family and friends here to watch me sign my letter of intent, which was really amazing.”


Medrano never thought he would be able to be a part of a ceremony they had.


“It’s really neat because I never experienced anything like this,” he said. “It’s amazing. I’ve seen this for a while and wanted to have this. It’s a great feeling. It felt good to sign my name. I felt like I did something good.”

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