Christopher Athletes of the Year: Purrfect Pair

Christopher's Athletes of the Year Rayshon Mills and Cydney Caradonna.

Whether it was beating each other to the finish line or beating each other to the lunch line, Christopher’s Cydney Caradonna and Rayshon Mills have been in constant competition since sixth grade. Neither was content with letting the other one win. As a final accolade of their high school careers, Caradonna and Mills are both in the spotlight as the Gilroy Dispatch Athlete of the Year selections from Christopher High—and there’s no one else they’d rather share it with.
“I think it’s kind of cool because me and him have grown athletically together. We both went to middle school together; we always said we were going to make it big together,” Caradonna said. “This guy was my prom date—we’re super tight. …We always say we’re each other’s biggest fans.”
Both Caradonna and Mills were captains on the basketball and football teams, respectively, and helped lead their teams into the postseason.
Caradonna helped a squad made up mostly of underclassmen into the second round of the Central Coast Section playoffs. She was named the Monterey Bay League-Gabilan Division MVP and earned First Team All-League honors in addition to earning a spot in the 7th Annual North-South High School All-Star Classic in Salinas.
In track, Caradonna was part of the CCS qualifying and school record holding 400-meter relay team. She helped the Cougar girls clinch back-to-back league titles and she hopes to pass her winning attitude on to the next generation of Cougars.
“The school is so new, it’s kind of just been like (people saying) ‘Beginner’s luck, beginner’s luck’,” she said. “Now, it’s like: OK you guys, it’s your turn now. Tear the floor up!”
Mills’ senior experience was similar, leading Christopher into the CCS Divison III playoffs, only to fall to the West Catholic League powerhouse St. Ignatius College Prep in the first round. He broke the school’s single-season rushing record by racking up 1,331 yards this year to earn First Team All-League honors and will play in the 40th Annual Charlie Wedemeyer High School All-Star Football Game July 23rd at San Jose City College.
The work that went into being successful on the field was the easy part, Mills said. The real challenge for him—and Caradonna, too—was learning how to become a leader.
“I didn’t know I was going to be ‘the guy’. I’ve never given a speech to anyone, then I had to give a speech every other week to the team to make sure they had their mind right,” he said. “It was a big learning experience. It got me ready for college because (in) college it’s really like everyone is the leader.”
Prom date, teammate, coach, cheerleader and friend—there’s no role that Caradonna and Mills haven’t played for each other. The duo’s friendship was strengthened their senior year as they faced the difficulties of recruiting together. Caradonna had dreams of attending Occidental College in Los Angeles, but the cards didn’t fall in her favor. Mills had his sights set on playing football for Menlo College only to have that fall through as well. Mills and Caradonna had each other’s backs, picking the other up when the future looked bleak and discovered, together, that things have a way of working out.
Caradonna will head to Hawaii Pacific University in Honolulu for basketball this fall, while Mills will continue his football career with Gavilan. While recruiting was daunting, Caradonna credits Mills with helping get her through it.
“I think we were both there for each other mentally,” she said. “You kind of feel like that lost puppy, but we both kind of kept each other sane. No matter what, it’s all going to fall into place.”
While we could choose only one male and female Athlete of the Year, there were several worhy candidates. Listed below are some Christopher High standouts who deserve recognition for their spectacular seasons:
Male nominees: Jimmy Lopez, wrestling; Alex Garcia, wrestling; Matthew Higgenbotham, water polo; Jacob Holm, swimming; Shane Shuttles, basketall; Hibsen Tamayo, soccer
Female nominees: Ally Foster, track and field, basketball; Vanessa Koontz, track and field, soccer; Oliva Tabron, volleyball; Natalie Gutierrez, golf, track and field; Cheyenne Dela Merced, volleyball; Brook Loesch, softball
We always say we’re each other’s biggest fans.”