After two years of waiting, Long Beach Poly High School was finally able to hold a celebration for its yearly signing class on Monday, honoring the 23 seniors who have inked college scholarships during a celebration inside the school’s auditorium. Safety protocols did not permit on-campus gatherings during the traditional signing period, but Monday’s event gave the 2021 class—plus a limited number of spectators—the opportunity to celebrate their accomplishment.
“The special thing about this event is acknowledging the kids and the families,” said Poly athletic director Rob Shock. “It’s an important day to celebrate our kids and the parents and all their supporters, to give thanks for all their hard work all these years. We’re so thankful for their commitment and all they’ve done for Long Beach Poly, and the example they’ve set for our underclassmen.”
A few of the 2021 signees are an embodiment of that sentiment, having seen their older classmates sign during their freshman and sophomore years before reaching that platform as a senior.
“This is one of the things I’ve been looking forward to since freshman year watching all my friends come and sign, and we’ve always wanted to do this around our school friends, so it’s really cool that we get to do this,” said girls’ soccer goalie Kira Ybarra, who is headed to San Francisco. “For the past three years I’ve been thinking ‘That’s gonna be me one day’ going up on stage telling everyone where I went.”
Joining Ybarra in the bay area is longtime soccer teammate Aasha McLynn, who will continue her career at Cal.
“We’ve been playing soccer together since our first team ever when we were five years old,” said McLynn of her friendship with Ybarra. “It’s so cool to have this experience together.”
Also from the Poly girls’ soccer team, Kelsey Adams will continue her career at Pepperdine. Rower Ella Van Fleet will also continue her career close to home, heading to UCLA after signing a scholarship in crew.
The girls’ volleyball program had two signees, with Alex Brown heading to Molloy College and Danika Iosua signing with San Diego Christian College. In boys’ volleyball, Nathan Cheav is going to Hope International University.
Girls’ basketball teammates Lily Buggs (Cal State LA) and Simone Morris (Robert Morris) both left the signing celebration to immediately prepare for their CIF-SS semifinal game which was scheduled for later on Monday night at Poly.
“I’m just grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to be able to play in high school and my coaches and my teammates have made me desirable for these colleges to want to have me at their school,” Buggs said.
“This was a good refresher, because with COVID everything has been shut down, and now everything’s kind of getting back to normal,” explained Morris. “It’s kind of feeling like a normal year where you see everybody on stage and get to cheer for them. I feel like it’s really good to see everybody’s accomplishments.”
After an unbeaten season, the Poly football team had seven signees, with Michael Fesili (UC Davis) joining teammates Justin Mataia (Southern Virginia University), Uiti Moe (Midland University), Keyonta Lanier (New Mexico), Bryun Parham (San Jose State), Jacob Tuioti (Army), and Torion White (Southern Utah).
Fesili will have the chance to play alongside former Poly teammate Chubba Maae, who was awarded the Big Sky Conference co-Freshman of the Year award this past season.
“It’s a blessing to be honest,” Fesili said. “A lot of kids don’t have this opportunity but I’m just glad I got it so I’ve got to make the best of it. I’m hyped for the competition up there. Chubba has been telling me there’s some dogs up there, so I’ll see once I get there.”
Poly has a pair of multi-sport athletes who are headed to the same school. Baseball/soccer standout Kenny Barnabee will join cross country runner/lacrosse goalie Kyle Johnson at the Illinois Institute of Technology next year. The baseball program also had pitcher Liam Alpern sign with Swarthmore University.
After a successful career in girls’ tennis, where she won four Moore League doubles titles, Ave Deguzman is headed to Baruch College. Speaking of four titles, senior Jade McDonald is pursuing individual CIF-SS titles in four different events at the CIF Track & Field Championships this weekend. The talented hurdler/jumper is headed to Iowa next year.
The boys’ basketball team celebrated a pair of signees, with Jalen Pitre going up the coast to Pepperdine and McDonald’s All-American Peyton Watson on his way to UCLA.
“I feel like it’s huge to go to a school that’s athletically dominated and have all these kids signed to different universities like me, I feel like that’s big,” said Pitre, whose family was all decked out in Pepperdine gear. “Especially in our community, seeing kids go to college. We’re not a community we’re not a lot of kids make it out. To see this many kids make it, I love to see it. It’s a good thing to see. It makes me proud.”
Here’s the complete list of Poly’s 2021 signees in alphabetical order:
Kelsey Adams – Girls’ Soccer (Pepperdine)
Liam Alpern – Baseball (Swarthmore University)
Kenny Barbabee – Baseball/Soccer (Illinois Institute of Technology)
Alex Brown – Girls’ Volleyball (Molloy College)
Lily Buggs – Girls’ Basketball (Cal State LA)
Nathan Cheav – Boys’ Volleyball (Hope International)
Ava Deguzman – Girls’ Tennis (Baruch College)
Michael Fesili – Football (UC Davis)
Danika Iosua – Girls’ Volleyball (San Diego Christian College)
Kyle Johnson – Boys’ Lacrosse (Illinois Institute of Technology)
Justin Mataia – Football (Southern Virginia University)
Jade McDonald – Track & Field (Iowa)
Aasha McLyn – Girls’ Soccer (Cal)
Uiti Moe – Football (Midland University)
Simone Morris – Girls’ Basketball (Robert Morris)
Keyonta Lanier – Football (New Mexico)
Bryun Parham – Football (San Jose State)
Jalen Pitre – Boys’ Basketball (Pepperdine)
Jacob Tuioti – Football (Army)
Ella Van Fleet – Crew (UCLA)
Kira Ybarra – Girls’ Soccer (San Francisco)
Torion White – Football (Southern Utah)
Peyton Watson – Boys’ Basketball (UCLA)