By Maddy Lewis
The Oak Leaf interviewed several seniors who have been standouts in various sports through their high school career.
Nolan Dacumos– Volleyball, Football
Dacumos has been a part of “the brotherhood” of AHS football for all four years in high school. His most memorable sporting experience over the course of his career was his first varsity game against Dublin High that aired on TV.
Dacumos has appreciated football’s and volleyball’s ability to “help stay focused on school work and get good grades.” After suffering two major injuries—a sprained ankle and broken foot—Dacumos efficiently rehabbed to get back to playing the games that he loves.
Motivated by “the adrenaline rush” before every game, Dacumos said he will miss “working hard and grinding everyday at practice” to prepare for that feeling. Dacumos said he could never compare the experience of Friday night home games at the one and only Thompson Field. “There’s nothing like it,” he said.
Katy Carlson-Women’s Soccer
Carlson, who started playing soccer at age four, has used the sport as a way to let go of any built up stress and anger. “Playing lets me relieve my temper,” she said.
Carlson is known for her competitive mentality and extremely tough style of play. After receiving MVP of the team her junior year, Carlson said she felt honored to be “recognized by coaches even though [I] wasn’t one of the main vocal leaders” at the time.
“Striker Katy” said she will never forget the time she received a red card during an NCS game. “I was playing a really physical game, and the ref gave me a yellow card beforehand. I went too hard on a tackle and he kicked me out. I had to be kept behind a fence the next game,” Carlson explained.
After playing for 13 years, Carlson has had to overcome constant knee injuries. “I’ve gone to PT multiple times. You really have to make sure to put in the work to get back to where you were before,” she said. Carlson is going to miss the team bond the most as she enjoyed having “that instinct connection” with her teammates.
Matt Esparza– Baseball (CSU Monterey Bay Baseball Commit), Basketball
Esparza has been playing baseball since he was four. He will continue his career next year at CSU Monterey Bay, which he chose because of the coaches, the feel of the campus and the opportunity to compete at a highly advanced program. Esparza said he found the current team “very welcoming,” as well.
Esparza played basketball for two years and on the varsity baseball team all four years. He says he is motivated by his family. “I do it for them,” he said. The CSUMB commit is prepared to adapt to the “quicker speed of the game” next year in order to excel at the college level.
Kelley Desmond– Women’s Track, Softball, Cross Country, Soccer, Volleyball
Desmond has played almost every sport that female athletes can play at AHS. “I think high school is a time to try new things,” Desmond said. “I got to know several people that I wouldn’t have met or expected myself to meet unless I joined multiple teams.”
Though she has countless memories in the five different sports she played, Desmond says her favorite sporting experience was in softball making her first ever diving catch in the outfield. “Everything went blank at that moment, and the next thing I knew, the crowd was clapping and I saw the ball in my glove.” Desmond hopes to play club or intramural soccer and volleyball at Azusa Pacific University next year.
Isaiah Brown- Men’s Soccer (Sacramento State Commit)
Brown will continue to be a Hornet next year when he plays soccer for Sacramento State. “I felt like it was a good fit, academically and athletically,” Brown said of his college choice. He says he is inspired by “coming together as a team, having fun and being the best you can be on the field.”
Though Brown has played soccer since he was nine, he realizes that playing at the college level will be a challenge. “I need to get used to playing with bigger, stronger and faster players. I’m going to need to improve my endurance the most.”
Chloe Herrera- Water Polo, Swimming
Herrera has been swimming competitively for 12 years and fearlessly playing water polo for seven. She said she is mainly inspired by the adrenaline rush that she gets before every meet or game, but also expressed that “it’s fun to make people mad in water polo by pulling on their suits and just messing with them in general.”
Beating rival Piedmont High School for the WACC League Championship pennant was Herrera’s favorite sporting experience at AHS, which finally came her senior year. It’s apparent that Herrera belongs in the water as she enjoys the 500 freestyle event consisting of 20 laps. “I like to be able to pace myself since it’s a distance event,” she said.
After a successful four years and representing AHS aquatics proudly, Herrera admits she will miss her teammates and the team trips the most.
Tommy Wong– Men’s Tennis (UC Irvine Walk-On)
Wong looks forward to playing at UC Irvine in the fall. “The vibe of the team felt right, It was very welcoming and comforting,” he said. The highlight of his four years of AHS tennis was winning WACC league championship doubles as a senior. “It was a comeback win, which made it even better. After four years of making the championship and getting defeated, I finally won.”
Wong said he is inspired to play by his parents, and by “the opportunity to know that I can get better. There’s no limit and there’s always room for improvement.”