For several Oakdale High School athletes, the near future is set.
Five Mustangs have signed their Letters of Intent to continue playing their chosen sport in college, with two softball players, two wrestlers and a baseball player recently signing on the dotted line.
Several family members and friends joined the group for a formal signing ceremony in the foyer of the gym on the OHS campus, followed by plenty of applause, congratulations, hugs and photos.
Ready to move on to the next level are softball players Amanda Bricker and Avery Brown, wrestlers Ceasar Garza and Michael Torres, and baseball player Nathan Criswell.
Shortstop Amanda Bricker will be attending Cal Baptist University in Riverside, suiting up to play softball for the Lancers.
“It has been my goal, playing softball in college,” she said of working hard on both her sport and academics during her time at OHS.
She will be studying Communication Sciences and Disorders.
As far as her takeaway from the lessons learned during high school?
“To never give up,” Bricker said, adding that so far, the perseverance has paid off as she is getting to continue athletics at the collegiate level.
“It’s a dream come true,” Bricker said.
Lady Mustang softball teammate Avery Brown will be a little closer to home; she will be patrolling the outfield for the Sacramento State Hornets.
“I have played since I was five,” Brown said of her decade-plus involvement in softball. “I love just being able to learn the life lessons and the numerous friendships I’ve gained over the years.”
She will study Kinesiology at Sac State.
One of the most important lessons she feels she has learned at OHS – and something that she knows is a part of life – is “just learning to accept failure” but moving forward from it with a positive attitude.
Ceasar Garza will trade in his Oakdale Mustangs gear for that of Michigan State, becoming a Spartan to continue wrestling in college.
“I just love the atmosphere, the family bonding, he said of what makes wrestling special to him.
While not fully committing to a choice of major just yet, Garza is eager to start his college career and keep the family tradition going, having started his own wrestling journey in local clubs before being old enough for school teams.
His family has remained a constant source of support, he said, and he also had a cousin and many close friends that he has wrestled with throughout the years. Garza noted that all have helped him grow in the sport; experience he will take with him to Michigan. He currently wrestles at 174 pounds.
Michael Torres will be going to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and will wrestle there for the Mustangs; his college mascot remaining the same as the one he has represented on the mats for Oakdale.
With a plan to study Ag Communications, Torres wrestles at 125 pounds for the Mustangs and admitted that using wrestling as a way to also continue his education was “always in my mind.”
He is eager to start the next chapter and said he hopes to continue doing what has been the most fun for him at OHS – “Winning.”
Heading off to Long Beach State, Nathan Criswell will divide his time between the baseball diamond and the classroom. The right handed pitcher plans to study Criminal Justice and has played baseball nearly his whole life.
“Since I was three; I started in T-ball,” Criswell explained. “I love everything about it, the sights, the smell, gripping the ball in my hand.”
He has enjoyed his time pitching for the Mustangs and now looks forward to playing for The Dirtbags, as the Long Beach baseball team is known.
Criswell also plans to continue focusing on what has brought him success on the diamond thus far.
“Throwing the ball as hard as I can,” Criswell said.