SELMA - In front of family and friends, Selma High track athlete DeAndra McDaniel signed his national letter of intent to continue his academic and athletic career at the University of California, Berkeley on Friday, Nov. 30.
“I really wanted to put on for my city when I was in ninth grade,” McDaniel said, “and now I feel like I got the opportunity to do that.”
McDaniel is a transfer from Natomas High School near Sacramento, where he spent his sophomore and junior years, but he attended Selma High as a freshman. Throughout his prep career, McDaniel has competed in the 100-meter, 4x100 relay, long jump and triple jump events.
For the Cal track & field team, McDaniel will be a long and triple jumper.
Last year as a junior at Natomas High, McDaniel placed fourth at the CIF State tournament in Clovis in the triple jump event after placing seventh a year prior.
Heading into his senior season, McDaniel said he wants to win a state title as a Selma Bear, but he also wants to focus on setting personal records in the triple and long jump events.
“My thing with competition and everything is I’m chasing marks, I’m not really chasing the titles because that’s going to come in college,” McDaniel said. “My plan is to go 52-plus [inches] and 24-plus. If I get that hopefully towards the end of the season then I’ll be happy.”
McDaniel’s personal record as a long jumper is 23 feet and his best in the triple jump is 48 feet and 10 inches.
Other than UC Berkeley, McDaniel drew interest from other Pac-12 programs such as Oregon, UCLA, and USC.
When McDaniel visit the UC Berkeley campus, he said he knew some of Cal’s athletes from competing in track and he meshed well with the coaching staff. After he was offered a full-ride scholarship, it was a no brainer for McDaniels to commit to Cal.
“I knew I was going to commit at the end of the visit, but I just wanted to field it out” McDaniel said. “I told my mom, I asked God for a grand of sand and he just threw a whole beach in front of me.”
McDaniel’s older brother Donte McDaniel was also a track athlete at Selma High and in college. The older McDaniel competed for the Fresno Pacific Sunbirds track & field team from 2014-17.
DeAndra McDaniel described his older brother as a “role model” and his “pacemaker.”
“As a kid, I really wanted to do everything that he did,” DeAndra McDaniel said. “I did band for three years I think, just because he did it and I wanted to be better than him. That’s kind of how I started with track at a young age.”
“I know for a fact that if I didn’t have him, I think my mindset would be a lot more closed-minded because I wouldn’t have known that’s possible just to come from where we came from and what make something out of yourself.”
Donte McDaniel, who is currently pursuing his masters at Fresno State, said it’s “amazing” that his little brother is following in his footsteps.
“I [always] thought that he was going to fall in my footsteps, but he took it a step further,” Donte McDaniel said. “He went to a completely new level. This guy still inspires me, I still train, but he’s inspiring me.”
Selma track head coach Alex Reyes coached DeAndrea McDaniel as a freshman and has kept in contact with the jumper when he was at Natomas.
Reyes said he’s not surprised of how far DeAndra McDaniel has progressed since his freshman year at Selma High.
“A lot of people just see the cool and fun videos [on his instagram page] and stuff like that, but they don’t see all the hours and hours he puts into studying and the athletics he does,” Reyes said. “He choose not to play basketball the last couple of years to focus on his academics, taking 3-4 AP classes, as well as the crazy workouts I had for him.”
“With everything, he’s always asking questions and trying to get better at everything he does. “So that’s huge and I think that’s why he came along so much since freshman year.”