On a day when Taylor Caldwell and Adria Golla shared the stage together to celebrate their accomplishments of signing a National Letter of Intent to play athletics at four-year colleges, the messages from the Bakersfield High seniors were similar and concise.
Without getting the work done academically, there would have been zero chance they would have been able to experience this moment.
“It’s what I did in the classroom with my family and my mom,” Caldwell said. “They were always on me. Always reminding me about my grades. You have to find that balance of on-court and in the classroom. You have to have both to get to the next level.”
Caldwell, a standout guard for the BHS girls basketball team, signed to play women’s basketball at Grand Canyon University, which is a member of the Western Athletic Conference.
Golla signed on with the women’s swimming program at Western State (Colo.) University.
The two were joined on stage by Caden Ochoa and Justin McGill at the Little Harvey Auditorium on the BHS campus on Friday afternoon.
Ochoa (Cal Poly) and McGill (Sacramento State) originally signed letters of intent during the early signing period in December.
Caldwell continued stressing her message of being a well-rounded student-athlete that takes care of work in the classroom first and foremost. She said that's a primary reason she's part of the reported 2 percent of high school student-athletes that sign letters of intent with four-year college programs.
“At the end of the day, all you have is what you did in the class,” Caldwell said. “Basketball is going to come and go. But at the end of the day, your education is going to be there.”
While at the podium during Friday's ceremony, BHS football coach Paul Golla — the father of Adria — reminded those in attendance of the importance of a college education.
While speaking, Golla looked down at his hand and commented about the rings he wears from CIF State and Central Section football championships.
“But that’s nothing compared to today,” Golla said about watching two of his players and his daughter sign letters of intent.
Speaking directly to McGill and Ochoa, Golla said, “What you are going to do with that degree, it’s the dividends it’s going to have with every year what that diploma is worth.”
Adria Golla said she chose Western State because of the comfort level she felt about the school, which is three hours west of Colorado Springs.
“When I stepped on campus, I just felt at home,” Adria Golla said. “I visited so many other places … and I knew that’s where I wanted to spend the next four years of my life.”
Adria Golla continued emphasizing classroom success as a key reason she'll be swimming on the next level.
“Academics became a priority,” Golla said. “It was always before swim. You can’t do anything outside the school without school itself. Luckily, being at BHS, I have amazing teachers who cared about me so much and I am so blessed that everything came together and I am going to school.”
The official late winter signing period begins on Feb. 7, but Caldwell, Ochoa and McGill originally signed during the early portion of the winter signing period while Golla won't officially sign until the spring signing period beginning in April.
Having the ceremony to celebrate together was something Caldwell wanted to experience since she was in sixth grade.
“It’s amazing. I am truly blessed,” Caldwell said. “I have been dreaming about this moment for about six years ever since (her cousin and Los Angeles Clippers guard Tyrone Wallace) had his signing ceremony … It’s a great moment.”