San Diego high school students sign letters of intent

More than 200 San Diego student-athletes signed their letters of intent to play college sports in 2018.

SAN DIEGO – Over 200 local high school students gathered Wednesday at Petco Park to declare which colleges they were committing to play sports at in 2018.

"Now that this day is here, it feels surreal," said Jaden Whitmarsh, a Torrey Pines High School senior committed to playing beach volleyball at UCLA.

Whitmarsh follows in her late father's footsteps. Mike Whitmarsh, an Olympic beach volleyball silver medalist, taught his daughter how to play volleyball at a young age and she believes her dad would be proud.

"I think he'd be super proud of me. It's a huge day," said Whitmarsh. "I've worked super hard to get here."

Before Whitmarsh hits the sand as a Bruin, she's been invited to compete in December at the Under Armour All American Game which features the top 24 high school players in the nation.

"I have no words for it, it's amazing," said Whitmarsh. "I didn't expect it so it's like a blessing."

Staying local was a big factor for some student-athletes, including two baseball players.

"It's a dream come true," said Michael Paredes, a San Diego High School senior committed to playing baseball at SDSU. "It's been my hometown school ever since I was a little kid and I've been practicing there since I was 10 or 11 so it's just always been a dream."

Cade Brown, a Cathedral Catholic baseball player, said choosing to play at USD was an easy decision.

"I love it here," said Brown. "Born and raised in San Diego so I mean this was the spot to be in and USD felt like the right school to me academically, athletically and faith-wise."

Many colleges begin the recruitment process sophomore year and depending on the school, often times student-athletes are offered a scholarship to compete at the next level.

"Everyday you've got to work as hard as possible to focus on getting to that next level," said Brown. "You can't have any doubt."

"I've gone through a lot of big ups and downs but I held it out and I achieved my dream and hopefully I keep achieving more dreams along the way."

The national letter of intent and signing party was part of the Hall of Champions. The event started in 2009 and Wednesday's gathering was the largest group of students to commit.