NORTH PORT — On Thursday, North Port seniors Jalien Whye and Andrew Syzonenko will walk across a stage that rests on the field they poured the past four years of their lives on.
Graduating from high school is a major milestone, a moment that will be engrained in their minds.
But before they could reach that point, both athletes had one more box to check off their high school bucket lists.
They needed to find a place to spend the next four years. On Tuesday they finally crossed that off the list with Whye signing to play football with Adrian College in Michigan and Syzonenko heading to Florida College for soccer.
“It’s great because I’ve been playing this sport since I was 4 years old and it’s great finally seeing it work out,” Syzonenko said. “It feels so good. All of the commitment I made, every day playing soccer, training on my own, training with friends. It’s just great.”
Syzonenko was a standout defender on the soccer team, earning Sun All-Area honors as a senior.
Though his name rarely showed up on the stat sheet, his lockdown mentality on the back end helped the Bobcats to seven shut-out victories.
That’s something he plans to bring to the Falcon program.
“It’s a small school, which is how I like stuff,” Syzonenko said. “The coach approached me and watched a couple of my games. I looked it up and it’s a nice school with a good team.”
For Whye, signing his letter of intent was a weight off his shoulders. The physical running back is coming off a torn ACL that kept him off the field for the remaining few games of last season.
More importantly, reaching this point is validation that everything he’s been through was worth it. He averaged 6.1 yards per carry with eight touchdowns as a senior.
“It’s amazing,” Whye said. “I’ve dreamed of this since I was 8 years old when I first started playing football. Seeing it come true, seeing my dad supporting me, coach Hatler, my family, teammates, coaches. It’s an amazing feeling.
“It’s a huge relief. With my injury, minor set back. I kept praying, thank God for everything. I’m just truly blessed.”
Also on the radar to sign was wide receiver/defensive back Robert Washington. He will sign in the coming weeks.