Falcons fly the nest

Every TPHS student remembers the day of their freshman orientation, the feeling they had as they roamed their new high school campus. Maybe they remember loving the large-scale terrariums squeezed between the history classrooms, or being excited by the glitter that takes permanent residence on the floor outside the ASB room. But an image that is glued in the mind of every athlete is the moment they opened the doors to the gymnasium and their eyes met the banners of CIF and state championships lining the ceiling.

TPHS holds a long history of success in its athletics program. In the San Diego community, many students itch to have the opportunity to play for TPHS.

Among the student body, TPHS is seen as having a high percentage of athletes that are committed to a four-year college or university, compared to other high schools in the area, according to TPHS Athletic Director and head track and field coach Charlenne Falcis-Stevens. TPHS has 25 to 40 student-athletes committed to college teams each year. Currently, there are 30 committed athletes on campus, with that number expected to grow as the year progresses.

Some of those students who have been successful with the recruiting process are Sydney Stewart (11), Colin Li (12) and Maggie Dumrauf (12).

Starting at young ages and devoting countless hours to sharpen their skills, the student- athletes are excited to take on their next four years as college athletes.

“[TPHS] is a big public high school that has very good sports and a good team atmosphere, which makes the sports more appealing,” said Stewart, a member of the girls varsity lacrosse team since her freshman year, and University of Southern California commit.

Setting the foundation for their careers, the TPHS culture is one that allows athletes flexibility to compete at a high level. For Dumrauf, who competes as an equestrian and is committed to Texas Christian University, the Independent Study Physical Education program was especially helpful, as it enabled her to fulfill her PE requirement with horseback riding — something that “wouldn’t be feasible at any other high school,” she said. With this program, she was able to set aside more time to practice and compete in order to work toward achieving her goals.

On top of class offerings that are geared toward the busy lives of student-athletes, the rich history of the countless CIF and state championships in TPHS’ athletic program attracts athletes throughout the San Diego community.

Li, a member of the TPHS varsity boys golf team and Yale commit, transferred to TPHS his freshman year from Bishops High School in order to play on a high-level high school golf team. Last year, the boys varsity golf team had five out of six on the starting team committed to Division One colleges, according to head varsity golf coach Chris Drake, who also teaches AP United States History and AP Sociology at TPHS.

The recruitment process can be taxing on an athlete and sometimes starts as early as their sophomore year. Turning to adults on campus, athletes find support in their coaches and teachers.

Li recalled that Drake was able to assist him in the recruiting process by connecting him with college coaches and offering advice. Many other TPHS coaches do the same.

“Mr. Drake gave [local colleges] a good word about me and he also sent an email to USC and Notre Dame,” Li said. “I think he definitely helped put my name out there.”

Dumrauf experienced support similar to Li’s from one of her teachers.

“While I navigated the recruiting process independently, I was fortunate to have several mentors who provided unwavering support. Mr. Ashby, my Intro to Business teacher last year, was one of them, offering invaluable guidance throughout the journey,” Dumrauf said. “His advice to prioritize choosing a school where I could envision myself living, rather than solely focusing on the riding team, resonated deeply with me.”

Similar to Dumrauf’s experience, Stewart said that her coaches at TPHS are also there for each athlete’s mental and physical health off the field.

“All of the coaches care about your well-being aside from the sport, but they also care about making you a better player,” Stewart said.

The history of achievements among TPHS athletics makes student-athletes want to feel the pride of playing for their high school. The connection between the student body, teachers and coaches is second to none, and is a motivator to many to improve their game and continue to build on the TPHS legacy.

“My TPHS lacrosse teammates are also a huge factor in me wanting to play in college. The connections I have made with them and the family that we have formed made me want to have that again in college,” Stewart said.

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