IR seniors ink letters of intent on National Signing Day

Coastal Point • Tripp Colonell: From top left to right, Arturo Salas, Mac Smith, Zion Howard, Jordi Rodriguez, Johan Cordoba, Lindsey Grow, Sammi Mumford, and Maddie Hogsten all signed NCAA letters of intent on Thursday.Coastal Point • Tripp Colonell: From top left to right, Arturo Salas, Mac Smith, Zion Howard, Jordi Rodriguez, Johan Cordoba, Lindsey Grow, Sammi Mumford, and Maddie Hogsten all signed NCAA letters of intent on Thursday.The Indian River High School Class of 2017 saw eight seniors sign letters of intent on Thursday, Feb. 2, as they get ready to take their talents to the NCAA in the fall.

Among them were Madison Hogsten, headed to Salisbury University to play soccer; Samantha Mumford, joining the Salisbury University softball team’ Zion Howard, headed to Virginia Beach, Va. to play baseball at Virginia Wesleyan College; Johan Cordoba, Jordi Ramirez and Arturo Salas, all joining the Chesapeake College soccer team; Mac Smith, signing with Millersville University to play soccer; and Lindsey Grow, signing with the Milligan College swim team.

Maddie Hogsten
(Salisbury University, soccer)

After earning a starting spot when she debuted for the Indians’ girls’ soccer team as a freshman, Maddie Hogsten quickly established herself as one of the team’s most dangerous offensive weapons.

As a forward, Hogsten has gone on to earn both All-Conference and All-State every season, headed into her senior campaign, where she’ll look to lead the Indians back to a third state championship appearance and try to crack the Top XI list, like her cousins Matthew and Steven Hogsten both did at Dover High School during their high school careers.

She’s also aiming to be the second player in IR soccer history to reach 100 career goals (currently sitting at 77 career goals), while making her case for Gatorade Player of the Year honors.

Hogsten will join former IR soccer standout, River Soccer alumnus and current Salisbury University assistant coach Peter Mais at SU after generating interest from head coach Kwame Lloyd when her Delaware Union club team faced the Seagulls in a scrimmage and Hogsten netted the team’s only goal.

“We’re very excited to have Maddie as a part of our family here at SU,” said Mais. “She’s mature, intelligent player with a great sense for scoring goals. She’s a great addition to the program.”

“I think Salisbury is a great fit for Maddie,” said IR head coach Steve Kilby. “She’s going to be a dynamic player that can get forward at the collegiate level and be an attacking threat.”

After weighing her NCAA options, Hogsten was sold on Salisbury when she went to visit the team and the campus last year.

“At first I wasn’t sure, but I went to the school, looked at the campus, talked to the girls, talked to the coaches, and I loved it,” she said. “I just knew that it was where I wanted to go.”

Currently, Hogsten is weighing her options between a major in education, to become a teacher, like her mother, or following a newly sparked interest in sports medicine — both career paths she cited as strong factors in her final decision.

Having come up through the River Soccer program, she explained the importance of the support and tutelage from her coaches through the years.

“They’ve helped me a lot. They’ve been very supportive,” she said. “Kilby has coached me since I was probably 8 or 9. He was never my actual coach, but he had always helped me at River, then once I got to high school, I was excited to have him as a coach.”

Hogsten has also been a key contributor to the school’s cross-country and track-and-field teams during her career.

Sammi Mumford
(Salisbury University, softball)

Also headed off to Salisbury will be IR softball and volleyball standout Samantha Mumford.

Mumford has been a force on the Indians’ softball team since her freshman season, when she helped the Indians get to the DIAA state tournament.

During her sophomore season, she was selected as an All-Conference utility player, following up with an All-Conference selection at first base in her junior campaign. She also earned All-Conference honors in volleyball for the Indians during those seasons, while serving as a team captain.

With her final choice coming down to Salisbury and Washington College, Mumford’s decision came down to the team.

“Our softball team at IR is a family. During softball season, we do everything together. The Salisbury team, when I did my overnight, was a lot like that,” she explained. “Salisbury was one of my top two choices from the beginning, but once I did my overnight and I met the team and the girls, I just knew that this was where I wanted to be.”

Current IR softball head coach Erika Brittingham spent her NCAA career with the Seagulls as a pitcher.

“Sami has the ability to fight her way to the top, despite any obstacles that may show up in her way. She has the ability to lead by example with her bat in the lineup,” Brittingham said of what Mumford brings to SU. “She knows what it means to be a true teammate. With those qualities, I know that she will wear the colors with confidence and make the others around her believe in what it means to be a part of that Seagull family.”

While she was recruited as an outfielder and hopes to contribute to the team as soon as possible, Mumford’s versatility in playing 1B, 3B and OF for the Indians opens up her options at the next level.

“That’s a philosophy that I’ve grown up with. The more versatile that you are, the more you’re able to help out the team,” she explained. “Ideally, I’ll be playing outfield, but wherever I can help the team is where I want to be.”

Academically, she’ll set out to become a physical therapist, after an injury during her sophomore season sparked her interest in the field.

“I think that’s kind of what got me into it. I want to be able to help people that way that I was helped,” she explained.

Starting out playing softball for Millsboro Little League, Mumford has made several trips to the Little League World Series throughout her career, getting all the way to the finals and making an appearance on ESPN with her District 3 squad in 2015.

After a dream career so far, Mumford said she was ready to embark on the reality of a dream she’s had since she started out.

“I’m just so excited to finally get there,” she said. “It’s been a dream since I was little, and I never thought it was actually possible, but here I am.”

Zion Howard
(Virginia Wesleyan, baseball)

As an All-Conference selection at offensive guard and linebacker for the Indians’ football team, Zion Howard had his options at the next level. However, it’s always been about baseball for Howard, who will head to Virginia Wesleyan College in the fall as an outfielder.

An All-Conference selection for the Indians last season, Howard has also seen his fair share of pitches on the mound.

While he was ready to contribute as a freshman, with the Marlins graduating three outfielders last season, the Academic All-Conference and Academic All-State selection is aiming to put his focus on his studies.

“I was looking for somewhere where I could have fun playing baseball while also getting my education. Education is my No. 1 priority,” he explained. “There’s some job availability on the team. I just have to go in there ready to work and get the job done.”

Putting in the work has been his driving force from the start — an attribute he said he learned from his father.

“It was ingrained in me from my father,” he said of his work ethic. “If you keep working hard, nobody’s going to be able to stop you from doing what you wish to do.”

Howard also cited his coaches, Chris McGee and Kevin Cordrey, as key factors in his success so far.

“Coach McGee and Coach Cordrey, from Day 1 they started pushing me,” he said. “They just supported me. Last season, they went over different skills that I needed to improve on, so I think that really helped me over the summer really look at those things and really evaluate myself.”

Howard is planning on majoring in psychology, with an interest in being able to help war veterans after earning his degree.

“I’m in psychology this year, and we actually just started talking about that. Just knowing a lot of people that suffer from things like that, it just seems like it’s something that I could do for my country,” he said. “I could really help in that field, I think.”

Johan Cordoba, Jordi Ramirez, Arturo Salas
(Chesapeake College, soccer)

The Chesapeake College men’s soccer team will get an infusion of Green & Gold next fall, when they Indians send three players from the decorated Class of 2017 to take the field on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Among the Indians headed to the next level are forward Johan Cordoba, defender Arturo Salas and midfielder Jordi Ramirez.

As a class, the three were prime forces in collecting two DIAA state championships, three Henlopen Conference championships, four Henlopen South titles and three total state championship appearances.

Cordoba led the Indians with 20 goals and 17 assists this season, earning not only Top XI honors, but being selected as one of only five players from the state as an NSCAA Regional All-American. Cordoba was also a Blue-White All-Star selection.

“Chesapeake College is going to gain three really sophisticated players coming out of our program. They’ve got a really strong club background at River Soccer Club as well,” said IR head coach Steve Kilby. “It’ll be a definite benefit for those guys to go into a team where they have a common background as players, they can take that chemistry that they have and apply it at the next level.”

Similarly, in 2015, the Indians sent forward Luis Cruz, midfielder Danny Garza and defender Sean Whelen to Wesley College, where they’ve made immediate impacts for the Wolverines.

“We’ve been very fortunate having multiple players signing to go on and play at the next level, both on the girls’ side and the boys’ side,” Kilby said of the program’s continued success. “It is a testament to their club background at River, for a lot of those kids and, hopefully, for us here at Indian River High School, helping them do the right things as well.”

Mac Smith
(Millersville University, soccer)

Starting for the Indians since his freshman season on the school’s first state champion soccer team, Smith will head to Millersville next fall, where he hopes to also be able to make an immediate impact.

“That’s my plan. But I have to work hard this summer,” said Smith, who’s been playing club soccer for the Delaware Rush this winter after a foot injury caused him to miss the majority of his senior season for the Indians last fall. “It was all about getting back to normal, at first.”

Consistently racking up both All-Conference and All-State honors since arriving at IR, and serving as a team captain since his sophomore season, Smith was a strong candidate for Gatorade Player of the Year and the state Top XI list before his injury and weighed his options for the next level. Ultimately, he chose Millersville for its mix of soccer and academics.

Smith is also part of somewhat of a legacy at the Pennsylvania-based university, where his father, Duncan Smith, played soccer and his mother, Cindy Smith, played tennis.

“They were pretty excited,” Smith — also the No. 1 singles player for the Indians on the tennis team — said of when he told his parents he’d be following in their footsteps. “They’re going to enjoy going back and walking around campus to watch games.”

Strong coaching at Millersville was also a key factor in his ultimate decision.

“I went to the camp and enjoyed it a lot. I received a lot of positive feedback from the coach,” he said. “He’s been there for going on 10 years now, and he’s had a lot of success. That played a big part of it.”

Coming up through River Soccer Club, and being coached by his father on the two State Cup championship teams, Smith attributed his past success and readiness for the next level to their tutelage.

“The coaches have been great, just to see River build up over the years,” he said. “I started there playing U9; my dad was my coach all the way to U17, and he did a lot of driving and coaching for tournaments — it had a big impact on my life.”

“When we lost Mac this season, you could see the direction of the team changed,” said IR head coach Steve Kilby of Smith’s impact. When he’s on the field, we’re a lot more calm and directed. That has a lot to do with his ability to see the game and make the right decisions.”

Smith plans on majoring in business management and will travel with his new teammates to play in England this August. While he wasn’t exactly sure of his future career path, he was sure of one thing.

“I’ll definitely keep soccer as a big part of my life. I hope to coach in the future,” he said. “College soccer has always been my goal.”

Lindsey Grow
(Milligan College, swimming)

Swimming with the Sea Colony Sharks since the age of 6, before taking her talents to Indian River, Lindsey Grow has gone on to put together one of the IR swim program’s most decorated careers.

Currently still playing out her senior campaign, Grow has set five individual school records and helped set three team relay records, as well as helping lead the Indians to three Henlopen South titles, collecting eight medals at the Henlopen Conference championships and qualifying for the DIAA state tournament meet every season.

She was also the first female swimmer at IR to make the DIAA state championship Top 16 —which she did as a freshman — and has done three times since, headed into her fourth career DIAA state tournament later this month.

Considering her résumé, in addition to honors collected as an Academic All-Conference selection and member of the National Honor Society, Milligan College head coach Kelly Essler was excited to have Grow join the squad.

“Lindsey’s attitude and personality were exactly what I, as a coach, was looking for,” Essler said. “She was very positive, she always had a smile on her face, and you could tell that she was a hard worker from the first day I met her.”

IR swimming head coach Colin Crandell, who’s coached grow since her Sea Colony Sharks days, was equally confident in her abilities at the next level.

“Lindsey is reliable, dependable, coachable, hard-working — she is exactly what a coach is looking for in a swimmer,” he said. “There’s not enough good words to say about her. She’s a good kid. She’s a good student. She always wants to get better.”

For Grow, swimming, academics, coaching and teammates were all deciding factors in signing with Milligan.

“I was looking at other schools, but the coaching really stood out to me.,” she said. “Swimmers are dropping times there left and right. Coach Essler is definitely someone who’s going to push me to go harder, and that’s the kind of coaching that I respond to the best.”

In addition to hard work, Grow credited Crandell and some of her longtime teammates as the driving forces behind her success.

“McKenna [Burke] and Erin [Haden] — they’ve been the best teammates. I wouldn’t be here without them,” Grow said, also mentioning former relay teammate and current Randolph-Macon freshman Lauren McCoy.

While Grow is staying focused on the Henlopen Conference championships this weekend, and the upcoming state tournament, she’s also ready for the next chapter in her swim career.

“I’m so excited to be a part of the team,” she said. “It’s going to be awesome.”