Crescenta Valley High School seniors Elissa Arnold, Ashley Taylor, Hannah Cookson and Kayleigh Carillo have signed their National Letter Of Intent during the early signing period this month. A couple of them will take their talent out of state next fall, while the others will hope to excel nearby.
Arnold, who helped lead the Falcons to their first ever CIF championship last February in water polo, will play for University of Michigan under Coach Matt Anderson. Arnold had 80 goals, 72 assists and 38 steals last season as a junior and earned All-CIF and All-Pacific League honors.
Arnold went on a recruiting trip to Michigan in September, and said she’s wanted to be a Wolverine for a while. She was also considering a handful of other schools, including Hawaii.
“I liked the other schools but nothing compared to Michigan. I loved it there,” she said, while adding Michigan’s conference (Big Ten) and academics (she hopes to study nutrition and kinesiology) was a major selling point for her.
While Arnold has helped bring the Falcons water polo program to prominence, it was outside the school where Anderson noticed her.
“Elissa Arnold is someone that we found at Junior Olympics,” Anderson said on Michigan’s athletic website, “and then I found out that Michigan was her dream school. I really liked what I saw. She plays for a good club program, L.A. Water Polo, and she plays at a smaller high school that not many people know about. I think she’s going to do very well here. She is a hard worker, and I’m looking forward to her development. She’s another one that should have an impact.”
Arnold is aware the cold weather could present a challenge to her.
“The pool is indoor and you get heated towels when you get out of the water, so I’m not nervous about that,” she said. “I don’t know; we’ll see how a Cali girl does in the snow.”
Taylor, Arnold’s current high school teammate, is headed to nearby Azusa Pacific University after signing her letter of intent.
“I wanted to stay close to my family so that they could continue to watch me play,” Taylor said via email. “I always knew I wanted to explore APU … The campus culture was exactly what I envisioned my college life to be. Coach Julie Snodgrass and the Cougar water polo team made me feel like I was a part of team.”
“I’m so excited for her,” Arnold said of Taylor. “Going anywhere is a big deal … She’s going to make a huge impact there. It was a really good decision for her.”
Taylor and Arnold began playing together six years ago for Falcons club water polo, and won gold medals on the under-16 team. Now they enter this high school season as defending CIF champions.
“Before we say goodbye we must finish leading our team through our upcoming season,” Taylor said. “I am excited for us both to move on to college, playing the sport we are so passionate about.”
Cookson, the centerfielder for the Falcons softball team, signed with Long Beach State University. She has been selected to first-team All-Pacific League three times, and over three seasons for CV she’s hit 33 home runs and has batted over .400 since her freshman year.
Cookson also plays for the Junior Olympics travel squad Minors Gold 18-and-under program.
“Hannah is a solid hitter and has had success with her bat throughout her high school and travel ball career,” said Long Beach Coach Kim Sowder on the school’s athletic website. “She has great instincts in the outfield and covers a lot of ground.”
Kayleigh Carillo, a track and field star, signed with Cornell University in New York. Carillo was also recruited by Harvard, Columbia, Brown and the University of Pennsylvania. She holds the CV school record in the 100 meters, 200m, 400m, 4x100m and 4x400m.