Dream scenarios come true for six Holy Trinity athletes
Holy Trinity honored six student-athletes who signed their National Letters of Intent this spring. Pictured (along with previous signees from this school year) are (top l-r) Giana Gayles, Talia Douglas, Darelle Pawley and Samantha Folio and (bottom l-r) Cory Kaplan, Eric Jaffe, Oscar Gonzalez, Tony Jenkins and Bryce Wahy.
VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala
It was … well … exactly what you would expect from a day where six Holy Trinity athletes were honored for signing their national letters of intent to continue their athletic careers.
It was a day when dreams actually came true.
Parents, classmates and friends all gathered at Holy Trinity Tuesday to celebrate Cory Kaplan signing to play basketball at the University of South Carolina-Upstate and Oscar Gonzalez sign to play baseball at Florida Tech.
Swimmers Eric Jaffe and Darelle Pawley both signed with Rollins College and track star Giana Gayles made it official that she is heading out west to Stanford.
Then there was senior cross country/track standout Samantha Folio, who signed with Georgia Tech – the school she has wanted to go to since her freshman year.
“It was my dream school,” Folio said. “We had a college festival in my ninth grade year and I was blown away by the representative there. It was my dream school since then.”
Folio, who plans to major in mechanical engineering, certainly had a big senior season. After going years without being able to break any of her personal records, she set 11 PRs this season – including five in her final seven races – on the way to a second-place finish in the Class 1A state cross country meet.
Tigers coach Scott Baker called Folio the hardest worker he has ever had in 30 years of coaching.
Though she had actually signed her official NLI earlier in the week, Folio said the experience of being in front of her friends and family on Tuesday was emotional.
“Even though I signed two days ago, today was a bigger moment for me,” Folio said. “I’ve had a lot of friends sign with other schools and they’ve always talked about it.
“I woke up today and I was really happy.”
The spring signing day was the last of three held at Holy Trinity throughout the school year. Bryce Wahy signed to play soccer at Trevecca Nazarene University in the fall, while the winter signing day saw Talia Douglas (softball) sign with Radford University and Tony Jenkins (baseball) with the University of Miami.
Tuesday was another big day for the Holy Trinity baseball program -- and Gonzalez -- who transferred to Holy Trinity for his senior season. The catcher is ranked in the top ten in the county in batting average (.491) and RBIs (20) while also being tied for the team lead with three home runs.
Jaffe and Pawley were both described as strong team leaders who are expected to have a big impact on the Rollins swimming program. Jaffe, who qualified for the regional finals in two events in each of the last four years, holds the school record in the 200 and 500 free.
Kaplan, who transferred from Edgewood for his final two seasons, was the leading scorer on a pair of strong Tiger teams – including the 2015-16 team that played in the Class 4A state championship game.
He committed to South Carolina-Upstate shortly after heading up there for a visit in January.
“I liked the atmosphere up there,” Kaplan said. “The coaching staff showed a lot of interest and I really liked them. I liked the way they played. I watched a game and really enjoyed it, thought I would fit in well.”
Kaplan, who is leaning toward majoring in business management, credited Holy Trinity coach Steve Henderson and his staff for helping develop into the player he is today. And he’s thrilled about the chance to play at a Division I school.
“It was my dream since I was a little kid,” Kaplan said. “Now that I can finally do it, it’s just … great.”
Giana Gayles, meanwhile, will be heading to Stanford where her twin sisters – Daryth and Gaby – will be entering their senior seasons as sprinters for the Cardinal.
Although she won three Class 1A state track titles last season, Giana really caught the attention of Stanford coaches when she finished second in the heptathlon at last summer’s AAU Junior Olympics in Humble, Texas.
While she didn’t choose Stanford simply because her sisters go there, Giana is looking forward to the chance to add to the growing family tradition at the West Coast powerhouse.
“We’ll have different coaches, but it will be nice to have someone (there),” Giana said. “I’m excited to see them. It’s going to be fun.”