On Scotts Valley High School’s signing day, student-athletes look forward to their next chapters

From left: Sam Freeman, Amber Boothby, Elana McGrew, Ellie Raffo and Siena Wong rocking merch from their future schools.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Five Scotts Valley High athletes participated in signing day Tuesday, announcing to peers where they will be continuing their sports and academic careers come fall. While change, stronger competition and new settings will mean some adjustments, the student-athletes say they are ready to take it on.

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More than 50 students and parents gathered next to the Scotts Valley High School gym Tuesday to celebrate five of their fellow students announcing where they will be continuing their sports careers.

“That’s a small year for us,” said SVHS Athletic Director Louie Walters, adding that the school honored more than 10 students on last year’s signing day. Nevertheless, the five athletes feted Tuesday spanned three different sports — track and field, lacrosse and golf.

Track and field captain Sam Freeman and cross-country/track athlete Amber Boothby will join the track teams at Fordham University in New York City and UC San Diego, respectively. Girls lacrosse players Siena Wong and Ellie Raffo will play at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, and UC Davis, respectively. Golf star Elana McGrew will be staying locally, playing golf at UC Santa Cruz come fall 2023.

McGrew was MVP of the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League the past two seasons, but wasn’t all-in on playing college golf until her first year at Scotts Valley High. She’s continuously elevated her game since then, playing in competitive Junior Tour of Northern California tournaments with a Pasatiempo Golf Club sponsorship. She’s no stranger to a high level of play, but says future seasons will look much different.

Scotts Valley High's Elana McGrew will play golf at UC Santa Cruz
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

“It’ll definitely be a lot more competitive than in the last four years,” she said, adding that she’s getting back onto the greens more now that finals are over. “There’s also more travel; we’ll go to Texas and Florida for tournaments, which is exciting.”

amber boothby
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Given that travel and higher level of competition, for McGrew, the big challenge could lie in juggling school life with sports. But the prospect of developing relationships with her teammates through all of the impending adjustments has her eager to get going.

Wong was the girls lacrosse team’s leading scorer as a sophomore, and this season was a major contributor for the undefeated squad. She also recognizes the heightened level of competition she’ll be seeing at Vassar, and already knows she’s going to start preparing well before she leaves for the East Coast.

“I’ll be competing with juniors and seniors — players with years of experience on me,” she said. “I’m going to work on bettering myself during the summer, so there’s really no break.”

siena wong
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Upstate New York is quite a haul for the Scotts Valley native, but she sees it as a welcome one.

“I’ve lived in Scotts Valley my entire life, it’s a small town and I’m really excited to have that new experience,” she said. “Poughkeepsie is small, too, but it’s a whole new community.”

New York winters are drastically different, to be sure, but Wong said she competed in a school prospect camp in 18-degree weather, so she at least got a preview of what she’s in for.

ellie raffo
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Freeman, on the other hand, will be trekking into uncharted territory with winter indoor track running, which he has never done. In fact, he began running track only two years ago but immediately established himself as a standout, posting the fastest 400-meter time at last year’s Central Coast Section track and field trials.

“The indoor 200-meter tracks are generally banked, so it’s more like a car racetrack where the curbs are slanted up,” he said. “It’s a different running style, since outdoor [running] is completely flat. That’ll take some getting used to.”

Moving from a small suburb to the country’s largest city will take some getting used to, too, but Freeman said he was pleasantly surprised upon visiting.

“[New York] is a really big city, but you can walk and take the train pretty much everywhere, so it’s super approachable,” he said. “There’s a ton of interesting stuff and I’m excited to go and see it all.”

sam freeman
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Above all, Freeman said he is simply thrilled knowing he can continue running and will be joining a new, passionate community of athletes like the ones he’s found locally.

“This year, I didn’t quite get where I wanted to be. I only started running the 400-meter last year, so I just want to get more races under my belt,” he said. “I’m not going to try and put time goals on myself, because putting a lot of pressure on yourself is like running with a backpack on.”


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