Pen to Paper

Bishop’s Senior Student-Athlete Commits Celebrate San Diego Signing Day


Back Row left-right: Jameson Vaccaro (Princeton, Volleyball), Oliver Price (Harvard, Water Polo), Aden Dorros (Bowdoin, Tennis), Rex Harrison (Amherst, Tennis), Wyatt Linggi (Colorado College, Soccer), Raynall Thornton (Colby, Football), Casey Ryan (Bowdoin, Lacrosse). Middle Row left-right: Julia Bonaguidi (UC Berkeley, Water Polo), Erin Ellsworth (UCSB, Soccer), Kate Steinmeier (NYU, Swimming), Sydney Bold (Princeton, Volleyball), Novalyne Petreikis (Rochester, Field Hockey). Bottom Row left-right: Chase Landa (USC, Water Polo), Alex Zarcu (Air Force Academy, Water Polo), Jake Molinar (Abilene Christian, Baseball).

Camille Greenlee, Staff Writer

Six years of blood, sweat, and tears poured onto the signature line and I was officially going to attend the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) to play water polo. Although I signed later than my teammates, I attended the San Diego NLI Signing Day celebration at the Joan B. Kroc Theatre on November 10.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

On this day, 16 Bishop’s Class of 2023 seniors announced their commitment to their future schools, among the 200 other student-athletes from 50-60 schools in San Diego. Our seniors, working hard during both school season and club, felt pride and joy as they shared their decision with other students and celebrated with their families. 

The list of Bishop’s student-athletes committed and attended the Signing Day celebration included: Jameson Vaccaro (Princeton, Volleyball), Oliver Price (Harvard, Water Polo), Aden Dorros (Bowdoin, Tennis), Rex Harrison (Amherst, Tennis), Wyatt Linggi (Colorado College, Soccer), Raynall Thornton (Colby College, Football), Casey Ryan (Bowdoin, Lacrosse), Julia Bonaguidi (Cal, Water Polo), Erin Ellsworth (UCSB, Soccer), Kate Steinmeier (NYU, Swimming), Sydney Bold (Princeton, Volleyball), Novalyne Petreikis (Rochester, Field Hockey), Chase Landa (USC, Water Polo), Alex Zarcu (Airforce, Water Polo), and Jake Molinar (Abilene Christian, Baseball). I attended the ceremony too, as I committed to UCLA to play water polo. 

The ceremony started at 8 A.M. when every athlete walked across the stage announcing their name, high school, sport, and college they committed to. “It was fun to see where my classmates and other people around San Diego were committed to,” said Julia Bonaguidi (‘23). “Although, it was kind of sad to hang out with my friends and classmates knowing that we wouldn’t get to go to school together next year.” Both before and after the ceremony, families scrambled up to the two San Diego Sports Association signs with the table and chair in front of them to pose for the ‘iconic signing post.’  

Water polo players line up in front of the infamous signing day photo posing left to right: water polo coach Doug Peabody, Chase Landa, Camille Greenlee (UCLA, Water Polo), Alex Zarcu, Julia Bonaguidi, and Oliver Price.

The recruiting process is never simple. For most sports, college coaches start recruiting their players after their sophomore year on June 15. On September 1 of their junior year, coaches can start inviting student-athletes on visits and even make early offers. For the next year or so, athletes can get invited on official or unofficial visits to schools and make a decision at any point in their timeline.

I always knew I wanted to play water polo in college. I had two schools at the top of my list, interchanging consistently. They were the two colleges my parents attended, which happened to be some of the biggest rivals in the nation — the University of Southern California (USC) and UCLA. I was late to the college recruiting process; I was unclear about the June 15 start and reached out to coaches later that summer. And I spent my whole junior year stressed in classes and in the pool, wondering whether or not I would make it to the next level. I set a high standard and often questioned if I was truly good. 

Balancing school, practice, and communication with coaches was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to endure. I often drove home from practices bawling my eyes out and having to pull over before I could start driving again. If I was getting yelled at during practice and couldn’t find time to study for tests, how would I ever be able to play in college?

I find it especially hard to find time to study when I drive far for games and training. Weekdays are dedicated to practices and school and weekends to tournaments, which could be local or a few hours away. Jake Molinar (‘23) plays baseball about 12 hours a week, including several hours dedicated to driving to and from practices and games. However, he mentioned that the commutes help bring him and his teammates closer together, making them want to win bigger games and tournaments together. 

In college, student-athletes will not have to travel as far to practices when most facilities are right on campus. The team travel days definitely add to the unity of many teams, especially at the collegiate level. 

Some athletes officially commit to the school of their choice during sophomore year at the earliest, or late spring of their senior year at the latest. For many athletes, the fall of their senior year can be considered more stressful than junior year. Yes, they have to maintain good grades throughout their junior year. However, as seniors, we consistently have to communicate with coaches, study hard in the classroom, stay determined on the court, field, or in the pool, and think a lot about where we want to spend the next four years of our lives.

Novalyne Petreikis (‘23) described her commitment to the University of Rochester as being a little different and later than more athletes. She said, “I started emailing coaches junior year but was busiest with recruiting over the summer before the senior year and playing in clinics and big events with [her] club.” She decided to commit to the University of Rochester to play field hockey because “the coach and the players were the nicest people [she has] ever met” in addition to loving the “super flexible curriculum” Rochester offers.

When I made my decision to commit to UCLA, I felt a weight lift off my shoulders – but only for a few days. When I told my coaches and thanked them for everything, most of them said, “This is where the real work begins,” as if I hadn’t been working super hard the last five years I’ve been playing my sport! 

Yet, shortly thereafter, I found this to be true. I thought I held myself to a high standard before, but now it is even higher than ever. Whenever I make a mistake or even a good play, I find myself wondering: Is this UCLA material? Would a national champion make a mistake like this? Or would a national champion consider this a good play? 

Similarly, Kate Steinmeier (‘23) who committed to New York University (NYU) to continue her swimming career, has started to set even higher standards for herself. Kate says, “I always have a certain process and expectations for myself in and out of the water, but knowing that I am going to be swimming at the collegiate level led me to reevaluate my goals and look at what I can do in the long term and not just this year.” Many athletes like to set short-term goals for themselves, but as we move on and get to continue our careers at the next level, we get to set even longer-term goals, which can create both stress and motivation.

Despite the perpetual stress cycle of student-athletes, signing their NLI makes their decision real. In San Diego, a variety of athletes spend the day feeling powerful and celebrated alongside their family and club teammates. Whether they put a pen to their letter on the official signing day on November 9 or in San Diego on November 10, they sign for all the hard work and persistence it takes to become a great athlete and a valuable athlete for the next four years at the next level.