On her way to Idaho

Citrus Valley senior Claire Graves signs her letter of intent to attend Boise State with the support of past and current coaches, April 12.

Kevin Maeda left Citrus Valley and seemed dominating at Pepperdine.

Sophomore Jordan Steele and freshman Carlos de la Torre, a pair of growing and glowing athletes from San Bernardino Valley, copped a prestigious honor from their school.

We could talk about Eli Opsahl, Claire Graves and the Bowens siblings, Billy and Emerald.

It’s that time of year when college graduations have just taken place around Southern California, the entire Golden State, not to mention the entire nation. There are approximately 5,300 4-year colleges in the United States. There’s no reason why kids from this area can’t be at one of those places.

If you’re an athlete, you only increase your chances.

Pell grants, academic scholarships, merit awards, plus other financial options, are available for anyone who desires to get a college education.

So why are we talking education in a sports section?

Most readers turn to this section for updates on scores, features, think pieces and, perhaps, features on interesting athletically connected people from the area.


That’s for another section, right?

Here’s the reasoning: Athletics doesn’t happen unless the academics are in place, right?

Take Maeda as an example. Known far more on the sports section for his top-flight running at Citrus Valley, this kid graduated from Blackhawks silks with plenty of classroom accolades. More, in fact.

Off he goes to Pepperdine — not exactly a minor education achievement, folks — and he takes off.

We’re not talking cross-country or track.

Having just graduated from the Malibu-based campus, he got something called the #WCCREPRESENT award. Student-athletes who log in time in leadership roles are honored.

Stuff like this:

• Leadership council, co-president.

• Student-athlete advisory committee.

• School’s leadership council.

• Pepperdine’s Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

In case we forgot to mention his athletics, Maeda managed to produce a 31.04.9-clocking — second fastest 10K in school history.

Third best over 8K (24:38.7), second fastest 5,000-meter (14:35.20) and fifth fastest 1,500-meter (3:58.50).

Graduated with a chemistry degree (3.92 GPA). He’s headed for UCLA dental school.

Just caught a glance at a Tweet that showed a photo — I lost count at 19 — surrounding SBVC women’s soccer coach Kristen Hauge.

Not sure if they were all graduates from the May commencement, but it sure looked impressive.

Look around at a few of this year’s high school grads. Opsahl (Redlands East Valley), a heroic 1,500-meter runner, is headed for Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo.

A year, or so, ago, we were celebrating Citrus Valley distance star Claire Graves’ full ride to Boise State. By the way, that’s where REV footballer Billy Bowens landed. His sister, Emerald, pulled a scholarship to Nevada-Las Vegas.

We’d been writing about those kids for years, but never mentioned a GPA or any academic achievements. Too bad.

As for Steele, a Hemet Tahquitz product, and de la Torre, who came over from Riverside Patriot High, the school tabbed them with the William J. Harrison Jr. Memorial Award.

That comes with a scholarship for their next stop.

Steele played middle of the field for the practically peerless Lady Wolverines’ soccer side.

She has landed a scholarship at Louisiana State University-Alexandria.

De la Torre, a conference 800 and 1,500 champion, was a second team All-American after copping sixth in the 5,000.

He was a cross-country superstar, helping land SBVC its 22nd straight conference championship, taking eighth at State last November.

There’s no telling where he’ll wind up after his sophomore season.

Few probably remember William Harrison Jr., a 1935 SBVC graduate who owned Harrison Sporting Goods. This guy was a giver.

By 1947, he annually awarded a Harrison Sporting Goods trophy to the top campus athlete. It’s only grown since then.

Athletics and academics. There are way, way, way too many people participating in sports that aren’t matching that same effort in the classroom.

Can’t name all the college graduates. Some head for schools that no one from these parts have ever heard from before. Midwestern schools.

Small campuses. NAIA, as opposed to NCAA. Different academic standards.

Money’s being offered to Californians who want to get educated.

If they’re an athlete, so much the better. It just adds to the scholarship award.

All you have to do is pay the price.

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