SARASOTA — Kasey Gamble isn’t used to getting ready for practice well before the sun creeps up over the horizon.
But if it means fulfilling her lifelong dream of playing Division I soccer under the lights, then the Riverview High senior is more than willing to forgo a couple extra hours of sleep.
On Feb. 6, the Lady Rams forward signed a national letter of intent to play soccer for Southern University, in Baton Rouge, La.
“It’s exciting and a relief after competing with so many other players in tournaments,” Gamble says. “It’s a great feeling to make a decision and know where you’re going.”
Gamble had offers from Mississippi Valley State University and Belmont Abbey College, but Southern University had the friendly atmosphere Gamble wanted. The Jaguars also have a new head coach and athletic director, which also piqued Gamble’s interest.
“The soccer program is moving in a new direction,” Gamble says. “I liked that everyone in the sports department seems energized and excited about the changes that were coming.”
Gamble plans to enroll in Southern University’s Honors College and study political science or business; she wants to become an attorney.
In addition to Gamble, Riverview football players Peter Hubert and Jaden Adams also signed letters of intent.
Hubert and Adams are both headed to North Dakota to play football for Minot State University.
Hubert battled injuries throughout much of the season, but that didn’t stop colleges from reaching out to the Rams’ outside linebacker and safety.
Hubert garnered interest from Carthage College, Greenville College, Capital University and the College of St. Scholastica, but he eventually decided on Minot State.
“It seemed like a great fit, and the fact that I get to go up there with a teammate topped it off,” Hubert says. “To finally be committed is a great step on to doing great things (in the future).”
Minot State recruited Adams, who returned kickoffs and played both running back and wide receiver for the Rams and, in turn, referred Hubert.
Now, the two are ready to take their game to the next level.
“I look forward to being the new guy on the block and making a statement on the field with all my abilities,” Hubert says. “Continuing to play with my teammate is going to be a blast. We’re (going to) ball out and represent for our school and the area.”
Booker defensive end Eric Mayes also made his college intentions known on National Signing Day. Mayes signed with the University of South Florida where he will join Manatee defensive lineman Derrick Calloway.
Two days later, Sarasota soccer player Ian Grubb signed with Virginia Tech University.
Even after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament last month and undergoing surgery, the Sailors’ forward never lost sight of his goal, and the Hokies never wavered in their support.
Four Cougars ink choices
SARASOTA — Victoria Krupa is leaving her mark on a program she’s come to call her own.
After moving seven years ago to Florida from Philadelphia, Krupa was surprised to find that lacrosse was practically non-existent in the area.
The Cardinal Mooney High senior joined the Lady Cougars lacrosse team as a freshman and since has helped build the program.
She became the first Cardinal Mooney girls lacrosse player to go to a national tournament as a freshman; and Feb. 6, Krupa made school history when she became the first girls lacrosse player to go on to play college lacrosse.
Surrounded by her family and friends, Krupa signed a letter of intent to play for Huntingdon College, in Montgomery, Ala. Krupa, who plans to study business, chose Huntingdon College over Stone Hill College.
“It’s really big,” Krupa says. “I feel like I grew it (lacrosse) here in Florida and the area, so to be the first one from the area to go on to play college lacrosse is really exciting.”
Fellow seniors Hannah Howard (soccer), Christina Warren (crew) and Trey LaPorta (lacrosse) also made their college choices known on National Signing Day.
Howard, a forward on the Cardinal Mooney girls soccer team, will be heading to Elon University in Elon, N.C.
The Lady Cougars’ leading scorer over the past three years and offensive MVP this season visited Elon last July and instantly felt right at home.
“Honestly, I just fell in love,” says Howard, who plans to study nursing. “It feels great. I verbally committed in July, and I’ve just been preparing and getting ready to step up my game. I’m really excited to be able to play at the next level.”
Warren will be heading to Princeton University to row for the Tigers lightweight boat.
Warren, who has been rowing for the Sarasota Crew for nearly two years, chose Princeton over Stanford, Duke and Notre Dame.
“I’m really excited,” Warren says. “It’s a huge relief. I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be fun.”
Warren, who plans to study pre-law or broadcast journalism, will spend the remainder of the year rowing with the crew before preparing to head to Princeton.
LaPorta also will continue his lacrosse career next year after signing with Rollins College.
The Cougars midfielder chose Rollins College over Aurora University and Florida Gulf Coast University.
“It just had that homey feel,” LaPorta says. “I was planning to go out of state until I went to Rollins.”
LaPorta, who plans to major in international business or psychology, will now seek to lead the Cougars to another district title in preparation for playing at the next level.
“It’s a much faster game,” LaPorta says of college lacrosse.
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].