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Seven Students Continue Their Athletic Careers

November of 2022 saw the first athletic signing ceremony this school year in which SBHS student athletes signed and officially committed to their desired college to play their sport. Students such as Shea Delany committed to Claremont McKenna for volleyball, Olivia Obando to UC San Diego for water polo, Calvin Wipf to Pepperdine University for baseball, and many more. On April 19 the second athletic signing ceremony of the year commenced and seven more students officially signed to pursue their athletic careers at the collegiate level in Peabody Stadium. 

Pepper Marks will be wrestling at the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) level at South Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon to cap off her historic high school wrestling career. 

Marks said that as soon as she started wrestling she instantly fell in love with it. 

Marks’ future goals for college are being a starter for duals in the upper weight and to compete for nationals and win. Marks wants to thank Coach Fidel, Coach Mearce, Coach Hamman, Coach Cox, and Coach Yamasaki. One of Marks’ favorite memories was when she was at nationals in Virginia, she was nervous but one of her coaches, Coach Mearce, sent her a supportive text. “It was the sweetest text of my life.. Like legit I started crying because it was so sweet,” said Marks. She would also like to thank her mom, dad, stepmom, and her siblings. “They really pushed me past my limits and are always there for me. So I really appreciate and love every single one of them because they helped me and pushed me to do something I love.”

Tiffany Ball will be swimming at Westmont College, an NAIA affiliate school. Ball has been swimming her whole life. She would regularly swim with her mom as an infant and would start to swim competitively at eight years old. Once she turned 11 she would join Santa Barbara Swim Club and has been training with them ever since. While she wished she would have started the club earlier, Ball is still appreciative that she got to train with them all year. 

Last year Ball won her heats in 200 IM and 500 freestyle in Channel League Finals. “It felt incredible!” she said. She wishes to drop her times at Westmont and to have fun with her teammates. Ball would like to thank her club coaches Coach JJ, Coach Makayala, Coach Madison, Coach AB, Coach Todd, Coach Mark, and Coach Aaron. She would also like to thank her school coaches Coach Hill, Coach Walsh, and Coach P. She also wants to thank her sensei, Brain Jordan, and her mom. 

Pomona-Pitzer commit John Shafer passing the ball during a rival game [Image Credit: James Sanchez]. 

John Shafer will be continuing his water polo career at Pomona-Pitzer, a Division lll school in Claremont, California as an attacker. One of Shaffer’s favorite things about high school water polo was the friends he made and the memories he had with them. One of his favorite memories was when he would spend time with his team at hotels during tournaments. “We bonded really well and had a great time together.” Shaffer wishes to create new bonds and, “…meet some people [in college] that I will become great friends with as that has been one of my favorite things being a part of a high school team.” 

Shaffer started playing water polo at 7 years old after quitting swimming and giving water polo a shot. Shaffer would instantly fall in love with water polo. “I would like to thank my coach Mark Walsh for all of the great help he has given me the past 4 years to really learn the role of a left-handed player on a team along with all of my other coaches that I have had along the way.”

Gabriel Gallardo will be playing lacrosse at Messiah University, a Division lll school in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. Gallardo started playing lacrosse at a very young age, “I started playing lacrosse in fourth grade in the local rec league…My parents didn’t want me to play football so I figured lacrosse was the next best thing. Thankfully, I made the right choice.” Along with playing for SBHS Gallardo would also play for the Southern California Bulls in Carlsbad, California during his junior and senior year. Gallardo’s favorite memory was when Santa Barbara beat cross town rival San Marcos for the first time in program history during his junior year.

Messiah commit Gabriell Galladro was injured during his senior season, however, he would still support his team. Image shows him celebrating after his teammate scored against San Marcos [Image Credit: James Sanchez] 

Gallardo would like to thank his parents for, “…making sure I was at every practice and tournament and all the sacrifices they put in helped me get to where I am today.” He would also like to thank his coaches for shaping him to be the player and person he is today, and God. 

Evan Encell-O’Hara will continue his swimming career at Cal Lutheran, a Division lll school in Thousand Oaks, California.

Davis Flanagin will continue his track and field career at New York University, a Division lll school in New York City. Flanagin only started track and field in high school after his dad recommended it because he did it in high school as well. Flanagin is the leader of the triple and long jump in Channel League and hopes his skills translate on the east coast in the collegiate level. While officially committed, Flanagin still has high hopes to cap off his impressive high school career and wants to make it to the state meet. 

NYU commit Davis Flanagin attempting a long jump [Image Credit: James Sanchez]

Flanagin would like to thank his coaches and teammates,  “All of the SBHS track coaches are very helpful and care about the future and wellbeing of their athletes. I’m extremely grateful for the help they’ve given me. Also the other jumpers make a great group and really make me enjoy going to practice every day.”

Charlie Covington will continue his track and field career at Westmont College. 

From left to right: Gabriel Gallardo (Messiah University), John Shaffer (Pomona-Pitzer), Pepper Marks (South Oregon University), Davis Flanagin (New York University), Charlie Covington (Westmont College), Evan Encell-O’Hara (Cal Lutheran), and Tiffany Ball (Westmont) [Image Credit: Flanagin family]


  • James Sanchez

    James Sanchez is a Senior at Santa Barbara High School. He started writing for the Forge during his Junior year and is now Sports Editor, photographer, and Photo/Video Editor. He wishes to pursue journalism, film, photography, or a combination of the three in the future.

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