AXTON, VA (May 5, 2020) – In the months that schools across the nation have been closed, seniors from the Class of 2020 everywhere have missed out on numerous milestone activities to mark the completion of their high school careers. For seven student-athletes at Carlisle School, administrators created a virtual event so that these students would not have to miss the experience of their college signing day.
Carlisle is an independent college-preparatory school in Axton, Virginia. The seniors, some of whom have attended Carlisle since Pre-Kindergarten, have worked hard both on the field and in the classroom to achieve the opportunity to play collegiate level sports.
In a statement by Carlisle’s Athletic Director, Melinda Brightwell, she said, “These seven athletes have made a huge impact on the athletic program at Carlisle, and we are grateful for the opportunity to recognize them.”
At the virtual event, the student-athletes and their parents were invited to the Carlisle Campus, where a table and photo background were set up, and props were on hand to represent the teams and school colors of each college the students would attend. Brightwell said, “The signing event could have easily taken place at the dining room table of each student’s home, but we wanted to allow them to come back to campus and specifically the Upper School building to celebrate this occasion.”
Due to social-distancing guidelines, friends, extended family, faculty members, and media partners all participated in the event via Zoom, an online video conferencing program. The signing event was also spaced out throughout the afternoon so that school staff could sanitize the signing room in between parties arriving.
The seven athletes recognized were Alyson Gammons, Daisy Harris, Will Johnston, Vitor Otsuka, Landon Wagoner, Gabriel Santos, and Gabriel Torres Santos.
Two of the students received additional recognition. Gammons and Harris are both among a few students across the state who will be honored by VISAA and the VISAA Executive Board. They are recognized for their participation as a senior in a VISAA sport all three seasons and living the VISAA Mission of establishing a foundation for excellence based on Integrity, Sportsmanship, and Leadership. Brightwell stated, “These students represent our state association at the very highest level, and we want to honor their accomplishments.”
Alyson Gammons of Ridgeway signed her letter of intent to play NCAA Division III soccer at Salem College. Gammons has been a significant contributor to the volleyball, basketball, and soccer programs at Carlisle. She has been a member of the first and second teams and a past MVP. Joining her at the signing were her parents, Beth and Jackie Gammons, and her brother Hunter Gammons. She said, “I am excited to announce that I will be continuing my education and soccer career at Salem College. I want to thank my family, friends, teammates, and coaches who supported me along the way!”
Daisy Harris of Axton signed her letter of intent to play NAIA soccer at Bluefield College. She has been a significant contributor to the volleyball, basketball and soccer programs at Carlisle. She has been a member of the first and second teams for all three sports and a past MVP. Harris is the daughter of the late Shavika Harris. She was joined at the event by her grandmother Mary Watkins and her sister De’Amber. In her statement, Harris said, “I am so grateful for the support of my friends, family, and teammates. But most of all, I am so grateful for my mom, who inspired me to give 100 percent on everything I do so that I could be here at this moment today.”
Will Johnston of Martinsvillesigned a letter of intent to play NCAA Division III soccer at the University of Lynchburg. He played attacking midfielder for the Chiefs soccer team and also broke the school record set in 2003 and now holds the new school record with 84 assists and a total of 75 goals. He is also a former State Player of the Year. Will was joined at the event by his mother, Deanna Johnston, father JJ Johnston, and brother Luke. Johnston said, “Through all of my struggles that I have faced and memories that I have made, I could not be any more proud to say that I have committed to the University of Lynchburg.” He added, “I would like to thank my family, friends, teammates, coaches, and most importantly, God.”
Vitor Otsuka of São Paulo, Brazil, signed a letter of intent to play NCAA Division II soccer at West Liberty University. He played attacking midfielder for the Chiefs, was named MVP, and named to the VISAA second-team all-state. Otsuka is the son of Andrea Alexandre Otsuka. At the signing, he was joined by his host mother, Bennette Zentmeyer. He said, “It’s my pleasure to announce that I’ll be continuing my soccer career and am entrusting West Liberty University to open a path to my future. With that said, I would like to thank all who supported me and believed in my potential.”
Landon Wagoner of Martinsville signed a letter of intent to play NCAA Division III basketball at Randolph College. He has been a member of both our soccer and basketball teams at Carlisle and plays the stretch forward/center position. Wagoner, who is the son of the late Ronnie Wagoner, was joined at the event by his mother Ginger Wagoner, sister Macy Wagoner, and head men’s basketball coach Brandon Smith. He said, “I am very excited to announce that I am continuing my education and basketball career at Randolph College. I am grateful for the support of all of my friends, teammates, coaches, my mother and sister, and most importantly my dad who is not here anymore and the man above.”
Gabriel Santos Marinho de Queiroz of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil signed his letter of intent to play NAIA soccer at Bluefield College. He has played the position of Center back for Carlisle and has been an integral part of the team’s success for the past two years. Marinho de Queiroz is the son of Andréa Santos.
He was joined at the event by College Counselor Susan Aaron and remotely from Brazil with his mother. In a statement, he said, “It is my honor and pleasure to announce that I will be furthering both my academic and athletic careers at Bluefield College in the fall of 2020. I want to thank all of my family, coaches, friends, and teachers who have helped me throughout my journey from Brazil to the US. I am extremely grateful for all of your support. Thank you.”
Gabriel Torres Santos of Salvador, Brazil, signed his letter of intent to play NAIA Division soccer at the University of Pikeville. He played goalie for the Chiefs and was also a recipient of The Chief Award. Torres is the son of Alcides Torres Santos Filano and Wilma Rodriques de V. Torres. He was joined at the event by College Counselor Susan Aaron and his parents remotely from Brazil. Torres said, “It is with great pleasure that I announce I’ll be joining the University of Pikeville in the fall. It’s been an honor to be a Carlisle Chief for the past two years, I’d like to thank all of my teammates, friends, teachers and everyone that was part of this beautiful story.”
Carlisle School offers a robust multi-year College Counseling Program that helps students to identify the right college for them, navigate the college application process, and apply for scholarships, fellowships, and other opportunities.
To date, Carlisle’s 28 seniors have collectively earned more than $5.1 million in merit-based scholarships to attend four-year colleges and universities.
Susan Aaron, Carlisle’s College Counselor, said, “Our student-athletes are talented athletes and diligent students with strong academic records. Additionally, they are well-rounded and consistently demonstrate leadership, service, and integrity in the classroom, school, and community which will make them excellent members of their prospective college communities. When a college enrolls a Carlisle Graduate, they are getting the complete package.”
Carlisle is currently accepting enrollment applications for the 2020-2021 school year, and new families can learn more about joining the Carlisle Family at CarlisleSchool.org/openhouse.
Video of Announcements Only(Approx. 8 minutes long)
Video of Announcements with Media Questions (Approx. 30 minutes long)