A pair of high school student-athletes recently made a decision regarding their future academic and athletic careers.
Aptos High soccer standout Jazmine Castañeda and North Monterey County High softball sensation Dejalei Visesio both verbally committed to play their respective sports next year at the collegiate level.
Visesio will take her talents to the University of Saint Katherine in Southern California, while Castañeda won’t have to venture off too far from home.
Castañeda will play at Cal State Monterey Bay—about a 30-minute drive from home.
“I’ve been working towards this since I was little,” she said. “It is everything that I’ve wanted and I’m really excited about it.”
Castañeda was looking at other schools including Chico State, San Jose State and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. For a while, she was willing to move anywhere in the country to play soccer.
But it wasn’t until Castañeda visited Florida with the Olympic Development group and thought to herself that she didn’t like the environment.
“I just wanted to stay in California, at least,” she said. “The biggest thing is my education and I know CSUMB is a really good school.”
Castañeda realizes that CSUMB is an NCAA Division II program and that she’ll get some grief for not venturing off into a higher division.
“For me, my biggest thing was where am I going to be happy,” she said. “There, I love the coach, I love the team, I love the environment.”
Castañeda said just because it’s a D-II school doesn’t mean the road to success will be easier.
The All-Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League First Team selection got a chance to train with the Otters women’s team.
Castañeda wants to continue to learn and grow. She’s pretty certain CSUMB is the place to make it happen.
She mentioned the school has a staff member that’s dedicated to helping players continue their careers at the next level.
Castañeda, who will focus her studies in kinesiology, said it’s neat she’ll be able to stay local. Plus, it gives her friends and family members a chance to watch her perform on the pitch.
“It just felt right,” she said.
Visesio said two things played a major factor in her decision to attend the University of Saint Katherine. First, she liked the small classroom sizes because it allows her to interact with the teachers and students. The second factor was how nice and respectful the coaching staff was toward her, asking her important questions such as how the sport impacted her life.
“How I would look at certain things in a different way as an athlete or a regular student or person,” she said. “They asked about my academics and what I want to do outside of softball, what do I want to do to have fun…so not all the talks were about softball.”
Visesio was also scouted by Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa and Simpson University in Redding. But she ultimately went with USK, which offered her a scholarship that will pay about 90% of her education costs.
Visesio got the opportunity to work out and practice with the Firebirds during her visit to the school in the winter.
She said the players kept it real with her, telling her about the struggles they faced and didn’t sugarcoat any of it.
“They wanted to give me the real and raw things like college life and how it’s actually going to be,” Visesio said.
Visesio said she’s been on several travel softball squads that tend to play at a higher level than most high school teams.
However, she quickly noticed a faster pace once she stepped on the field with her future teammates at USK. Visesio said she’s already looking forward to what’s in store for her next year.
“The girls already knew what the plan was for that day and they just already got to it without any questions asked,” Visesio said. “It was kind of fun to see all of them already know what to do.