Hart High School’s fall signing day on Tuesday featured 10 athletes furthering their athletic and academic careers at the next level.
The 10 seniors from multiple sports signed their letters of intent to various schools where they’ll have the chance to create another legacy like the one each left at Hart.
The signees included Indians soccer standouts Natalie Mejia, Issa McGee and Ariana Salvador.
Mejia inked her letter of intent to attend and play at St. Mary’s. Salvador committed to Pepperdine while Magee will continue to play for Hart coach Brett Croft, who also heads the program at Biola.
“The recruiting process was a very stressful period in which a lot of factors influenced where I wanted to go,” Magee said. “However, once Brett became the head coach at Biola, it was another opportunity I had considered. I felt I fit perfectly in his style of play and really enjoyed the Biola environment and culture when I went to visit. I realized this was something I really wanted to be a part of and I felt continuing my soccer career at Biola University was just what I wanted.”
Two of Jim Ozella’s best signed their letters of intent as Brayden Jefferis, a four-year varsity player, will continue his baseball career at Michigan and pitcher Troy Cooper heads to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Cooper struck out 56 batters in nearly 51 innings of work and boasted a 1.54 ERA in his junior season. Jefferis was just as dominant, batting .345 and leading the team in hits, doubles and RBI.
A pair of Hart’s CIF 2023 runner-up swim team members signed their letters of intent. Anna Brill will continue to compete at UC Santa Barbara, while teammate and CIF 500-yard freestyle champion Lily Dormans will head to USC.
The “Iron Man” and “Birdie Man” of Hart golf, Dylan Burcham, officially inked his commitment to Washington State.
Hart senior Madison Maxwell officially signed her letter and will continue her volleyball career at Long Beach State. Maxwell will rejoin former club teammate and league rival Milani Lee at Long Beach.
Indians’ softball slugger Alexis Lopez will also reconnect with a former teammate, as she officially committed to Cal Baptist, where she’ll rejoin Hart alumna Kate Penberthy. Lopez has been one of the most consistent hitters in the Foothill League and has batted .445 in her three-year varsity career with her senior season still ahead of her.
“Today was absolutely amazing,” Magee said. “I can’t stress enough how good it felt to be in front of all my peers and be able to sign after working so hard. There was just happiness during the whole process and what made it all better was being next to Nat and Ari, my teammates. We talked about this day back when we were sophomores, how we dreamt about the day we would all sign to colleges together. Once we were actually there at the table, holding the pens, we realized our dreams came true. I honestly just felt so rewarded, grateful and blessed.”
The athletes’ coaches were present to speak on behalf of the hard work and dedication the 10 Indians had put in at Hart. Although Croft wasn’t present to speak, his prepared statement, which was read publicly by assistant coach Craig Jaffe, honored the three Hart soccer players. Croft’s statement also recognized Salvador as possibly the greatest girls’ soccer player to come out of Hart High School.
“Ari and Nat are my two closest friends and soccer teammates,” Magee said. “I have known Ari since we were 7 years old and we have been through thick and thin together, while Nat and I got closer freshman year. Both girls are a part of my family and I love hanging out with them. They are both on my club team and it was great to also play high school season with them too.”
“We are a trio that have been together for four years and you can tell we have a strong, deep connection both on and off the field. I love those girls so much and will miss them heavily when we all go our separate ways. However, to share such an incredible moment with them meant everything. I am so proud of them and can’t wait to see what the future has in store for us all.”
Magee and her teammates are proud of everything they’ve accomplished, and even more so to the fact that they did it all in a Hart jersey. The three have already accomplished everything feasible as league, CIF and Regional champs, but still have highly anticipated senior seasons ahead of them.
“Some goals for myself are to enjoy my senior year with my teammates, but for the team I really want to get at it and build off of last year,” Magee said. “We need to continue to work hard and play Hart soccer as we are striving to accomplish more. I want this program to continue traditions and really represent Hart.”