Sarah Perkins and Emily Donahue see bright, sunny skies in their futures — the sunny skies of San Diego.
In front of an overflow crowd Thursday in Santa Ynez High School’s Boardroom, the senior track and field stars signed their national letters of intent to continue their athletic and academic careers.
In the fall, Perkins is heading to the University of California, San Diego while Donahue will head to Point Loma Nazarene University, located about 14 miles from UCSD.
“Thank you guys for all your support over the last four years,” Donahue said to the crowded room filled with family, friends, classmates, coaches and school officials. “I am inspired and humbled with all of you that are here today.”
“Thank you to all my coaches, teammates, family, friends and community,” said Perkins after her signing. “I couldn’t have done it without you.”
Perkins, with a 4.3 overall grade point average, has earned a scholarship to continue her throwing career.
At Santa Ynez, Perkins competes in the shot put and discus events — setting personal records in both in a meet at SYHS two weeks ago.
She’ll add the javelin and hammer throw to her repertoire for the UCSD Tritons.
“Sarah has the potential to excel at either of those events,” said Santa Ynez track and field head coach Ashley Coelho. “Lots of California high schools don’t have those events due to cost and safety concerns. Her college coaches saw her potential so she’ll compete in those events, too.”
Perkins was also a familiar face on the basketball court, playing on the varsity for all four years of high school.
“I played every position except point guard,” said Perkins. “I didn’t compete in track my freshman year but coach Coelho saw me play basketball and recruited me. I did mainly discus and wasn’t sure if I would continue but I made CIF (playoffs) my sophomore year and finished fifth. I had my personal bests in discus and shot two week ago. I know I can do better.”
Donahue, who also sports a 4.3 GPA, is a multi sport star, competing in cross country in the fall, soccer in winter and as a distance runner in track in the spring.
“Emily was leading the 3200 at the Arcadia Invitational (on April 7) when she was tripped near the end of the race,” said Coelho. “She got up and still finished 25th (out of 51)." Donahue set personal and school records in the 1600 (5:09.05) and 3200 (11:00.0) at a recent Los Padres League 5-way meet.
The distances are different in college where Donahue will run the 1500 and 3000 meter races while continuing her cross country career for Point Loma's Sea Lions.
“I’m better at the longer distances,” said Donahue. “I get faster the longer I go.”
Donahue plans to major in kinesiology.
“I was looking for a school with a strong kinesiology and physical therapy program,” said Donahue. “I need a school with solid academics first and then I looked to see if they had athletics. I contacted their coach, he invited me down and I loved the school — just the whole vibe.”
Perkins will major in mathematics at UCSD.
“I was looking for a college with a rigorous mathematics program and UCSD has a really good math program. I sent out recruitment questionnaires and UCSD was the first to respond. They asked me to come down for a visit and I actually committed to go there before I found out they were giving me a scholarship. When I learned that, I was thrilled,” said Perkins. “And Emily will be close and I have family in the area.
That include will include her closest family member.
“My twin brother Matt will be going to San Diego State,” said Perkins. “Matt played football and basketball here at Santa Ynez. He’s also a thrower in track but they don’t have track at San Diego State — at least we’ll be near each other.”
“I’m very proud of what these girls have done the last three and four years,” said Coelho. “What they have done is impressive. They deserve these scholarships. These two are phenomenal kids — great students, great athletes. As you can see from the crowd here today, we get big time support from our small school.”
“I’d like to emphasize how grateful I am for all the people who have given me selfless help — from my coaches, family, friends and the community,” said Donahue. “They just make it so much fun to go to school here.”
“I agree,” said Perkins. “I’m so thankful for everyone’s support.”
“It will be exciting to see these girls compete at the next level and since they’ll be so close, it gives their parents an extra excuse to see their kids more often,” said SYHS Athletic Director Cris Avery. “They are both tremendous student-athletes. I’m proud to see good things happen to students who do things the right way. Hopefully they’ll come back here when they’re done and coach for us or teach for us — or both.”