Image via Brody Hannon '22
On Wed., Dec. 15, 12 Loyola seniors formally signed their letters of intent on National Signing Day to cement their futures for the next four years. We caught up with the student-athletes and their coaches on the big day.
Dillon Klein - USC: “USC’s always been one of my favorite schools. My grandpa went there, and I think it’s the perfect blend of culture, academics, and athletics. I couldn’t be more stoked to be a Trojan.”
Ryan Sprague - USC: “I chose SC ‘cause of all three factors: social, academic, and athletics. I think it’s the best school out there.”
Owen Loncar - UCSB: “It’s a beautiful campus and I just love the dynamic of the team.”
Ryan Vena - Princeton: “It’s a great academic school. When I went on a visit there, I met the team. They had a great dynamic and I loved all the players there. I saw it as the best fit for me.”
Michael Robertson - UCSD: “It’s just a great location [with a] great education. I love the coaching staff and facility, so I thought it was the perfect choice.”
Head varsity volleyball coach Michael Boehle ‘84 spoke to the impact each of these players have had on his team.
He said, "Dillon, Ryan Sprague, Ryan Vena and Owen Loncar are returning starters from last year's team. Michael Robertson hasn't played in a year and half at Loyola due to injuries. We are hoping he stays healthy this year and can contribute in some capacity. They bring experience and a fire in the belly to finish their Senior year with a CIF Championship.”
He continued, “Each of these young men contribute mentally, emotionally and physically while balancing their academic schedule senior year. This is one of the strongest groups of players I've had in my 24 years as head coach. The schools they've chosen speak for themselves both athletically and academically. I am so proud of all of them for their hard work to get there. They know they came up a little short of their goal last year; they will need to hold one another accountable throughout the season. These five know what it takes, let's see where this leads us."
Cabral Carter - Pittsburgh: “It’s a top ten program in the nation. [Their] soccer program is unbelievable, best head coach in the nation. I did my visit there, and the academic situation there is unbelievable. I’m just really looking forward to it.”
Head varsity soccer coach Chris Walter ‘93 said, “He was a huge part of our success last year as we made a run to the CIF Finals…[He’s a] tremendous, tremendous athlete with tremendous knowledge of the game. We have had a lot of healthy discussions about the game, cause he just wanted to learn out there.”
Walter also noted Carter’s desire to play on the field this year as opposed to his traditional goalkeeper duties.
He praised Carter’s versatility on the field, and said he was most proud of his growth and maturity.
“You can really see his leadership on the field this year…He’s really taken his leadership to the next level. Guys look up to him and respect him,” he said.
Sam Yoon - UCLA: “I chose UCLA because it’s an excellent combination of D1 athletics and outstanding academics. It’s also pretty close to home and the weather is fantastic. I love the Westwood area, I’ve been a Bruin fan my whole life. It really was kind of the perfect fit for me.”
Jacoby Kelly - San Diego State University: “The number one thing for me with San Diego was the coaching staff. Coach Cooper had a vital role in my decision, cause he made me feel safe with choosing San Diego State and he kept me up to date with everything recruiting-wise. He’s just a great person in general. Also, the environment of the school when I went to visit.”
Head varsity football coach Drew Casani ‘91 said that what struck him the most about Yoon and Kelly, both three-year varsity starters and back-to-back All-League honorees, was their competitiveness.
Regarding Kelly, Casani praised his athleticism, selflessness and leadership. He also mentioned, “The most impressive thing he did, which again shows his competitiveness, is his ability to block.”
He also fondly recalled a moment in freshman PE when Kelly was allowed to walk a mile since the team had practice that afternoon, but chose to run anyway.
With Yoon, Casani stated, “The most impressive thing about Sam is not what he accomplished, but it’s the fact that every day, he works to be better.”
Casani remembered when Yoon came in to try on football helmets and he couldn’t find one that fit. He thought, “Oh man, this is going to be great.”
He emphasized to both of his seniors that this is all a journey: “This wasn’t the goal when you started here. The goal was the journey: being a part of this team, working hard when you’re beat. You’ve done that, and I look forward to seeing you do it over the next four years and the rest of your lives.”
Jack Shoemaker - Villanova: “I looked at it as an academic institution, and academically, it fit my needs. When me and my parents visited, we kind of just knew it was the right place based on all the people we met and all the people we talked to. It was a very good fit.”
Varsity lacrosse head coach James Borell said, “Something about him that I love from the get-go is his competitiveness [and] how humble he is. When he messes up, he’s the first one to admit it. He’s not afraid to have that tough conversation. When he does, he’s able to learn from it [and] get better. He’s continued to grow as a person and a player every opportunity I’ve gotten to coach him.”
Borell continued, “Because of his hard work and dedication–those long nights in the yard, after the sun has set, he’s still doing footwork, he’s still throwing checks, he’s still doing stick work–he’s been an absolute dream to coach.”
He recalled a moment Shoemaker had with Owen Gaffney ‘21. “Owen was talking a lot of smack one day, and Jack just came right back at him. He didn’t back down for a second. He even stripped him the next play and I thought, ‘This kid is going places.’”
Dylan Bissell - UC Berkeley: “I really liked the coaching staff there and the team culture seemed amazing, and the school is awesome.”
Nathan Mars - Elon University: “They’ve got a super nice campus, [and] they’re one of the top universities for undergrad teaching. When I took my official visit, it felt like the right fit.”
Head coach Lalo Diaz said, “These two young men are the reason why [the Cross Country team] finished 11th in the nation. We’ve got a proud tradition on this campus with regard to long-distance running: we have not failed to attend a state meet but once in the last 20 years.”
He continued, “These young men continue the legacy and tradition, and we are so proud today to mark their moment, as they have achieved what every family hopes for: their studies at the university level.”
Diaz also noted Mars’ and Bissell’s contributions to the accomplishments of the track and field team, who traveled to last year’s Nike Outdoor Nationals in Eugene, OR, and placed second.
Trey Rogers - Brown: “To me, Brown University is a combination of a really good water polo school and also a great academic institution. Academics are really important for me, and I’m able to succeed at Brown University.”
Rodgers, a four-year varsity athlete, was praised by head varsity water polo coach Erik Healy, who said, “I’m really excited, as I know his family and teammates are, to see where he will be four years from now, and all the different things he’ll go through in the next four years as a student-athlete in a high-level program and institution like Brown University.”
Healy continued, “I personally want to thank Trey for all of his leadership over the last four years. The way that he was as a captain for our team, the way that he was as a senior for our team this season, he was the glue that held us together. He was always the example. Coach [Andre] Woodert can tell you, my assistants can tell you, that he always led by example. Day in, day out. He is the definition and example of what hard work–putting your head down, showing up early, leaving late–will get you…I look forward to him continuing to spread not only his continued success, but the success that he exudes to people that are around him, and I think that might be his best quality.”
Congratulations to the 12 seniors, and as always, go Cubs!