Steinbrenner senior Cici Gonzalez wanted to make the moment last forever. After taking the direction from school athletic director Eddie Henderson to sign her letter of intent, Gonzalez opened the door into her future at University of Tampa where she will continue her soccer career.
“This is amazing, it feels like all my hard work paid off and everything I’ve ever wanted has finally come true,” Gonzalez, who tallied 91 goals over the course of her high school career, said.
She joined teammate Taylor Valley, who signed with Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, GA. Zack Jones and Zack Boryla both signed football scholarships to Stetson University in Deland, FL on Feb 1.
Jones was a member of Steinbrenner’s inaugural football team in 2009, and will get the opportunity to build a program again with Stetson, who will restart its football team after a 56 year hiatus.
“It just feels good to think about the work I put in and it’s all paying off,” Jones said. He then added, “I like (starting a new program), because every catch you get is a new record, every yard you make is a new record, so it’s cool knowing you build a program from the feet up.”
Boryla, who missed over half the season with an injury, says just getting a look from a major university was a blessing.
“I just wanted to prove that the injury didn’t affect me and that I’m still who I am and I can still play at the next level,” Boryla said.
Valley, who played a major role during Steinbrenner’s bid to repeat as state champions, felt like she made the right choice and wants to keep Armstrong atop the Division-II soccer poll.
“It seems like it’s been so long, finding the college and going on visits. … Now it’s kind of like relief, I’m so happy and I know I made the right decision,” said Valley.
Her coach, Robert Woodard, says it’ll be tough filling the talent that both Gonzalez and Valley possess.
“I’m really happy for them, because they’re both great player and they really made the transition for me a lot easier this year,” Woodard said. He then added, “On the other hand, I have to replace them, that’s going to be a challenge to have somebody step up and fill those shoes. That’s going to be a big task.”
Gonzalez ranks the commitment right up there with the Warriors’ state title last year.
“They’re definitely equal in accomplishments,” Gonzalez said. “One was kind of a team thing and now it’s a personal reward, so it’s equally amazing to me.”
Jeff Odom / Sports Editor