Four Naples High School students signed their letter of intent to continue their athletic endeavors into college on Feb. 7, 2024.
Hector Toro – Florida Gulf Coast University (XC)
Senior Hector Toro has participated in NHS’ cross-country program all four years. As a result of his participation in the team, he has learned useful skills that will assist him as he enters the next four years of his sport.
“NHS developed me as a student-athlete [and] helped me understand other people’s point of view,” Toro said. “As a leader on the team, I needed to be understanding towards the other athletes and listen to their concerns. NHS has helped me become the man by gaining leadership skills, time management, and showing respect for others.”
Learning these leadership skills were pivotal in Toro becoming the athlete he is today, early on he thought his biggest weakness was his ability to communicate.
“The greatest struggle I’ve had to face is communicating with athletes that don’t have the same vision as you,” Toro said. “I learned to understand that our differences are what makes us unique, overcoming that struggle within the team helped our team chemistry which is one of the reasons why we were highly successful throughout the season.
Toro was given the opportunity to take an official visit to FGCU, which showed Toro that the school was interested in him and gave him the motivation to not only commit to the athletic program but also for the academic opportunities he will be offered.
“For the next four years I plan to become a software engineer through FGCU’s Program and make an impact on my local communities,” Toro said. “FGCU is a growing school filled with a tremendous amount of potential and I’m excited to be a part of that.”
Johnny King – University of Miami (Baseball)
Senior Johnny King has been playing baseball since he was little. He has been a standout star for the NHS baseball team and has attained national attention. Now, he is taking his skills to the University of Miami for the next four years.
“[The University of Miami] is my dream school, and I love the culture,” King said. “‘[I hope] to pursue a baseball career, hopefully for the Detroit Tigers.”
The University of Miami not only boasts a good athletic program, but also an excellent education. King had interest from various programs, but he chose Miami for those reasons.
“[I am looking forward to] playing baseball every day, working hard and meeting new people,” King said.
Mac O’Malley – Coker University (Baseball)
Senior Mac O’Malley has been playing baseball his whole life and is excited to continue his athletics and academics at the next level.
“I have been playing baseball ever since I could walk. Over the years, I fell in love with the game. I would always play with my Dad and brother and they are the reason I’ve taken this path,” O’Malley said.
O’Malley hasn’t been at NHS all four years. He transferred from Barron Collier High School and had to start fresh with the baseball team and the student population.
“The greatest challenge I’ve faced was transferring schools. I had to deal with tons of adversity and start on a blank slate,” O’Malley said. “However, I already knew the team from playing with them in Little League, so they were already my brothers. I wouldn’t change a thing. This team has become my family.”
Coker University offered O’Malley a scholarship to continue playing baseball while also achieving a great education, where he plans on studying Computer Science.
“The coaches were very welcoming and made me feel like I belonged at the school. The program is full of a bunch of scrappy guys having some fun playing baseball,” O’Malley said. “They hold their players accountable both on the field and in the classroom, which is something I truly admire about Coker University.”
Although he transferred from BCHS to NHS, he still received advice and coaching that he wouldn’t have the opportunity to get from anywhere else.
“The best piece of advice I’ve received from my coaches is to show up every day no matter what. Baseball is a game of failure and it could knock you down in ways you can’t imagine,” O’Malley said. “It stays with me every day and you have to show up every day to continuously improve both your mental and physical aspect of the game.”
Luke Walker – Columbia University (Football)
Senior Luke Walker has been a standout star ever since he transferred to NHS during his sophomore year from First Baptist Academy.
“I have gotten stronger, faster, and more savvy playing at Naples,” Walker said. “I have benefited the most from the people I have had the privilege of being around. I have grown as a person.”
Columbia University, an Ivy League, boasts an education unlike any other. The opportunity to have an elite education while also playing the sport he loves was the reason he chose to continue there.
“I chose Columbia because it allowed me an elite education while also the ability to play competitive football and to help build a program up,” Walker said.
Having the opportunity to play in the intensive program of NHS’ football team already has Walker prepared for Division 1 football, and to continue his education from the academic excellence of NHS to Columbia’s academia.
“The physical attributes acquired at Naples will ease the challenge that the transition to the next level brings,” Walker said. “The character traits I have gotten here will aid me in the transition to an elite institute like Columbia, and help with managing studying, homework, football and a social life.”