Maya Tabron doesn’t get emotional too often. But whenever high school athletes sign their letter of intents to play a sport in college—as Tabron did at Christopher High on Nov. 20—that would assuredly bring some tears down Tabron’s face, wouldn’t it? Not a chance. At least that’s according to Tabron, the outstanding Christopher High senior outside hitter who has signed to play with the University of Colorado.
“There were actually no tears; just a lot of laughs,” she said. “Honestly, I’m not really one that gets teary-eyed a lot. Most of my friends who gave speeches tried to make it a fun thing, which made for a good time. It was a lot of fun.”
Tabron and lacrosse player Red Diokno were the two Christopher High athletes who have signed letter of intents so far to play in college for the class of 2020. Diokno actually signed his official letter of intent to play lacrosse at Adams State at his signing ceremony at the school on Nov. 22 (most of the time the athletes have already signed and returned their letter of intents before a recognition ceremony takes place at their respective high schools).
Four hours before his signing, Diokno admitted he would be getting plenty emotional during the signing.
“I’ll have my parents and a bunch of friends there, and the college I’ll be going to is pretty far away so I won’t be able to see them as much once I’m gone,” said Diokno, who is the first Christopher lacrosse player to go straight to a NCAA program straight out of high school. “I’ll be happy but also a little emotional knowing how many people helped me to get there.”
Both Diokno and Tabron have been stalwarts in their respective sports. Diokno scored 31 games in just 12 games last season to lead the Cougars to their first-ever league championship as they were co-champions with Salinas in the Pacific Coast League Mission Division. An attacker, Diokno possesses agility, quickness, tremendous stick-handling skills and the ability to make plays when there is seemingly nothing there.
“(In talks with Adams State coach Jerome Austin) he said my style of play fit his style of play,” Diokno said. “My playing style is more of being able to dodge and be quick. I can make a lot of passes and get everyone involved.”
Being that there aren’t as many schools that field lacrosse programs relative to other sports in the college landscape, opportunities are hard to come by and often times the difference between an athlete landing a scholarship or not comes down to being proactive in the recruiting process. Diokno’s strength and conditioning coach, Andrew Dela Cruz, who is the owner and head coach of XIOS Strength and Conditioning., spearheaded the efforts to get Diokno to the next level. It was Dela Cruz who reached out to a couple of schools in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, which competes in NCAA Division II.
Dela Cruz sent Diokno’s video highlights to the Adams State coaching staff, which expressed a lot of interest immediately. Diokno made a trip to Alamosa—located in southern Colorado—and made a verbal commitment to attend shortly thereafter.
“I could picture myself there as I walked around Adams State,” he said. “It was a cool place, out in the country and I’m really into the outdoors and the nature scene. I go fishing a lot and the location there really fit me. … The facility was great, the coaches were nice and they showed they actually cared.”
The 5-foot-7, 160-pound Diokno started playing lacrosse in the sixth grade with the South County Outlaws before playing for a couple of other club teams including Advance out of San Jose. Meanwhile, Tabron is coming off a spectacular season that saw Christopher advance all the way to a CIF NorCal Regional semifinal. Tabron hit over .440 for the season, was a six-rotation player and could do it all.
Whenever the Cougars needed a kill at a crucial point in the match, Tabron delivered. She was one of those rare talents whose best attack was unstoppable at times. Tabron has some serious athletic bloodlines. Both of her parents played basketball at University of the Pacific in Stockton; her two older sisters also played in college, one in basketball and the other in volleyball; and Tabron’s cousin from her dad’s side is none other than Los Angeles Angels outfielder Brian Goodwin. Still, Tabron’s path to earning a scholarship to playing for a Division I program wasn’t guaranteed.
After all, she didn’t take up volleyball until age 12, which meant in terms of experience she was already behind other girls who had started at a much earlier age. However, Tabron made every practice and match count, resulting in a meteoric ascent. She had offers from several other schools, but something about Colorado felt spot on.
“We are thrilled to welcome Maya to Boulder,” Colorado coach Jesse Mahoney said on the Colorado athletics website. “Maya has all the tools to be an elite six-rotation outside hitter. She’s a fast-twitch, explosive athlete with a great arm and solid range offensively while also displaying great ball-handling and defensive ability. With her high-level club as well as international playing experience, we are excited for her to transition into our program and compete early in her career.”
Indeed, Tabron displayed talent in just about every sport she participated in, including basketball, cross country, soccer and track and field. Before entering high school, Tabron’s main sports were basketball and soccer. However, once Tabron started accelerating in volleyball, all of the other sports took a backseat. Tabron grew up watching her sisters play basketball and volleyball, and their parents made a great decision 5 ½ years ago.
“When I was 12, my parents said, ‘Let’s throw Maya on the volleyball court and see how she does,” Tabron said. “It went pretty well. … Everyone in my family had an impact on me. But I would say the one who had the most impact if I had to choose one was my mom. She was with me through this entire process of traveling across the country to visit schools or being in Europe. She was a great support through it all.”
Tabron spent six months of her junior year in Sweden—she has dual citizenship between the U.S. and Sweden—playing for a high level club volleyball team. Although it was tough being far from her friends and family, Tabron made the most of her experience, realizing a dream that started at age 15. That’s when colleges first started expressing interest, giving Tabron thoughts of one day earning a scholarship through volleyball to get her college paid for. Now it’s reality.
“The recruiting process was stressful,” she said. “But it’s also a really cool experience because if I didn’t have volleyball or another sport, I wouldn’t have had a chance to go take a look at all these other schools. It was a really cool experience of going and seeing everything and just taking it all in.”