Even Chris Gocong was a freshman once. As the latest Cal Poly draftee embarks on his first year in the NFL, a whole new crop of students are readying themselves for the life of a college athlete – Cal Poly style. Here’s a look at some, but by no means all, of the promising incoming Poly Players looking to hone their skills and show their talent on Mustang turf.
Kyle Smith – Baseball
Smith, 18, comes to Cal Poly from Fresno, where he hit .430 with 8 home runs and 36 RBIs his final year of high school. The shortstop was named to the All-State and All-Valley baseball teams, and was honored as the Fresno Bee Player of the Year. In coming to Cal Poly, Smith said he hopes to get started strong both athletically and academically. But he said his ultimate goals do not differ from those of any other Division I college baseball player: to play professionally. Perhaps Smith will follow in the footsteps of the 15 Cal Poly baseball players selected in the Major League Draft over the past three years.
Kimberly Donatelli – Women’s Cross Country
Donatelli is following in family footsteps by attending Cal Poly. Both of the 17-year-old’s parents attended Cal Poly, and her grandparents live in the area. So for Donatelli, the family history, Central Coast location, and academic prestige that are associated with the school made Cal Poly the perfect place to continue her running career. Donatelli, a Ventura native, is making the move to San Luis Obispo in hopes of bettering her 17:36 three-mile, 11:02 two-mile and 5:08 mile times, as well as creating bonds with her teammates.
Jose Garcia – Men’s Soccer
Garcia, an 18-year-old Redwood City. native, joins head coach Paul Holocher as new additions to the men’s soccer team. Garcia said of playing college soccer: “I know it is going to be 10 times harder and 10 times faster, and the challenge is the exciting part for me.” Garcia was recruited by the Mustangs after attending a Cal Poly-hosted soccer camp. He landed himself on the All-League team all four years of high school, where he was named Most Valuable Player. The outside/center midfielder was also honored with Offensive Player of the Year his junior and senior years.
Katherine Hinkle – Volleyball
Hinkle, 18, thinks San Luis Obispo is “a perfect little town.” The Santa Barbara native has known for “a long time” that she would like to attend Cal Poly as she had no desire to venture farther south post-high school. As a member of the volleyball team, Hinkle, an outside hitter, is hoping to be a part of an NCAA playoff-bound team. In her senior year, Hinkle was named Most Valuable Player on her high school volleyball team, and placed on both First-Team All League and Second-Team All CIF. She has also been honored as Athlete of the Week for Santa Barbara.