BY CHARLIE BLODNIEKS
With a pen in hand and smiles on their faces, four CCHS seniors actualized their dreams and made it big on Wednesday, February 1.
Following suit on CCHS tradition, the sports signing ceremony honored the four seniors who have been recruited to play their respective sports at the collegiate level. Softball players Kara Lokeinsky, Dana DeFalco, and Kaitlyn Thompson and golfer Jedidiah Jhu all committed to Florida schools.
“Initially, I was very surprised [when I found out I had an offer],” Jhu said. “But I was thankful because of the opportunity they were willing to give me.”
Jhu will be playing golf for the Saint Thomas Bobcats come September. Coming out of his final high school golf season, Jhu has championed one local tournament and been the runner-up in three more, and his aspirations remain high.
“My aspirations for when I’m at Saint Thomas is to be the captain of the golf team for four years and to be an all-American in academics and athletics,” Jhu said.
Jhu isn’t the only Cowboy athlete with high expectations, however. Kaitlyn Thompson is signing to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach for softball, and she, too, has a goal of reaching all-American prestige.
“I want to do well academically at the school, and for softball I’d really love to be an all-American,” Thompson said.
Also celebrating in the limelight, senior Dana DeFalco signed to Broward College for softball. A long-time softball player, DeFalco has honed her skill to the college-level.
In fact, Broward College Softball Coach Jeff Roberts can recall the exact moment he decided to offer DeFalco a spot on their team.
“I went to a tournament to watch her play, and she didn’t know I was there,” Roberts said. “I was standing over by the fence and there was a ball that came that way. She almost ran through the fence to get to the ball.”
Aside from her excellent athleticism, DeFalco is also being recognized for her sportsmanship.
“She’s a great young lady, which is what we’re trying to bring into Broward,” Roberts said. “We want to change the philosophy at Broward and sign good people. She fits right into the mold that we want.”
DeFalco reciprocates the enthusiasm, noting that softball often times keeps her on top of her schoolwork.
“Softball really helps me relieve stress,” DeFalco said.
Capping off a successful year for the CCHS softball team, senior Kara Lokeinsky signed to Florida Atlantic University.
“I’ve met all the girls and I’m close with the coaches, so it’s really exciting that I’ll be there,” Lokeinsky said.
Lokeinsky hopes to one day join the U.S.A. Team for softball, an honor not bequeathed onto many hopeful professional players.
This journey to high aspirations hasn’t been easy, however. Lokeinsky was injured her junior year, forcing her to take time off the team and regroup. Despite the delay, she says she has learned to expect anything that may be coming for her. Since then, she has only gotten better.
“We’re very proud of our daughter,” father Brian Lokeinsky said. “She has always done very well in school and she’s an awesome pitcher. She’s done nothing but give us things to be proud of.”
For all of the CCHS athletes that signed, one common thread was clear: Cooper City sports have made an impact on their development as athletes.
“Cooper City softball has shaped my softball career because of the way we’ve melded together as a team,” Thompson said. “It’s cool how being in that environment helps you be successful in the sport.”
Even outside of softball, CCHS athletics is making a difference.
“This has definitely made me better, made me train harder and work smarter,” Jhu said.