SELMA - The list for Selma athletes moving onto the next level this year got a little bit longer.
Carlos Figueroa and Rachel Vieira signed their National Letters of Intent to continue their academic and athletic careers in college. The two Selma athletes signed their letters in front of family, friends, teammates, and coaches.
It was the school’s fourth college athletic signing during the 2018-19 academic year.
Figueroa will join the men’s soccer team at Sierra Nevada College, a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) institution located at Incline Village, Nevada. The school is located on the north shore of Lake Tahoe. The university’s athletic teams are called the Eagles and it’s men’s soccer squad compete in the California Pacific Conference.
Vieira will continue her basketball career in the NCAA Division III level at Morrisville State College (also known as State University of New York, Morrisville). Morrisville State’s mascot is the Mustangs and it’s women’s basketball team competes in the North Eastern Athletic Conference. Morrisville State is located approximately 29 1/2 miles away from Syracuse University.
“It’s two athletes that have done as equally good in the classroom as they have on the court or on the field,” Selma High athletic director Randy Esraelian said. “That’s impressive.”
For Figueroa, signing his letter of intent was a culmination of hard work throughout his time as a Selma Bear.
“My first goal when I get to Sierra Nevada is to build a new relationship with my teammates. Being able to get to know them better and get a feel of how the coach plays,” Figueroa said. “Coming into the high school scene of soccer, it was way faster and way different than I played in the previous years.”
“My second goal is to help them out score goals and help them have as good of a season as possible. They had a pretty good season [in 2018], but it wasn’t the best they were looking for and I want to be able to contribute to that. Give them a winning season and make a big impact.”
Figueroa said his major in college will be global business.
For Vieira, signing to Morrisville State was an end to a high school journey that she described as a “rollercoaster.”
“We went my freshman year not going far in playoffs, not winning league, to my sophomore year of kind of the same thing,” Vieira said. “Then, my junior we won league and I broke my arm to going to my senior year where we won league and I was healthy. My team was healthy going into playoffs and winning Valley.”
“It’s just been ups and downs through tears, sweet, blood, and all of the above.”
Vieira said her major will be equine with a concentration in physical therapy, which is to study to become a horse veterinarian.
“I always loved horses since I was little,” Vieira said. “They have an equine program, which I have been very passionate about and I’m very excited to continue to be around horses and play basketball.”
Both Figueroa and Vieira are four-year varsity players at Selma High.
Figueroa made the varsity soccer team as a freshman midway in the 2015-16 season. Making the varsity team as freshman was a goal he wanted to accomplish when he moved from Pariler, who’s high school team competes at the Division V level. The Bears have competed at Division II during Figueroa’s varsity career.
“Once I got the news that I was able to be a varsity player, it just sparked the light in me I just never had before,” Figueroa said. “I just kept pushing. Thanks to [former coach] David Norman for pushing me for two years. He showed me what the best is and what it takes because he’s played at the college level.”
Figueroa was an All-Central Sequoia League first teamer as a senior. He didn’t get a chance to compete for a Valley championship, but he said he was proud to be part of two teams that won a CSL team.
During Figueroa’s freshman season, Selma won a co-league title with a 9-1 CSL record. The Bears won a CSL championship during Figueroa’s junior season in 2017-18 with a 9-1 record.
Vieira was part of the girls basketball program’s first Central Section title team this past season. Vieira scored 15 points with seven steals in a 71-39 win over Fresno High in the Division III championship at Selland Arena on Feb. 23.
She was also named the CSL’s offensive player of the year after averaging 18.1 points per game against league opponents. Vieira was also the No. 1 singles player on the Bears’ girls tennis team this past fall. As a senior, Vieira won the CSL championship in the singles bracket. It was her only year with the team.
“If anyone ask me would I redo my four years here? No,” Vieira said. “I’ve loved every moment, up or down, because it just taught some new lessons that I was always carry with me for the rest of my life.”