By Ray Hamill — Two more Eureka seniors are taking their talents to collegiate sports after standouts Kira Morris and Mariah Napoleon signed their letters of intent in front of family, teammates, coaches and friends on Thursday afternoon.
Morris, who has played just about every sport possible at one time or another during her four years at Eureka, will play softball for Concordia University in Irvine after graduation, while Napoleon will play volleyball at Simpson University in Redding.
Morris will join a Division-II West Coast powerhouse program that annually challenges for the PacWest championship and more, and one that is playing in the 2023 NCAA SuperRegionals this week.
And the in-demand senior liked the fit.
“I made an unofficial visit last summer and I really liked it,” said Morris, who followed with an official visit in the fall. “I really love how close the team is, and it seems like a great environment and fun.”
Napoleon, who also is a standout basketball and volleyball player, says she choose Simpson, an NAIA program, in part because of the school’s nursing program.
She also admits it was an easy choice to play volleyball at the next level.
“It’s my favorite,” admitted Napoleon, who has been playing the sport since she was a sixth grader.
Both players have enjoyed plenty of success during their time at Eureka, and they’re not done yet.
The softball teammates will play in a North Coast Section quarterfinal at Moreau Catholic on Friday and each played a key role in leading the Loggers to a second straight Charlie Lakin Tournament championship last week.
Both players have also won league titles in softball and basketball, with Morris also winning a league and section title on the soccer field.
“Kira has been a leader on and off the field since she was a freshman,” Eureka softball coach Robin Johnson said. “She’s always encouraging other girls to work hard and do their best. She’s going to do great at the next level because of her drive and eagerness to get better every day.”
She’s also one of the most talented all-around athletes in the H-DN in recent years, representing her school in cross country, volleyball, softball, basketball and soccer — all of them in 2021 alone.
She grew up watching two older brothers — Aidan and Keenan — enjoy a lot of success in sports, most notably in baseball.
Keenan is playing for Santa Rosa JC in the state Sectional Championships this week.
Kira also has been heavily inspired by the tremendous success of former Fortuna High pitcher Hailey Dolcini, who went on to become one of the top Division-I college pitchers in the nation and played in last year’s Women’s College World Series Finals.
Napoleon, meanwhile, also follows in the footsteps of a sibling who has played beyond high school, with older sister Makayla playing basketball and volleyball at the collegiate level.
Mariah also was coached by both parents during her 12 sports seasons at Eureka — mother Stephanie in volleyball and father Cliff in basketball.
“She has been an absolute joy to coach and watch play,” Stephanie said of the 3.97 GPA student-athlete. “She is a successful student-athlete because she is such a hard worker in the classroom and on the court.”
She also rarely plays without a smile, something her teammates and fans have noticed.
“She is a quiet leader who is always smiling, lifting up and encouraging her teammates and setting the tone for the team with her no-drama positive attitude,” Stephanie added.
“I’m going to miss having her on my team next year, but know she has a bright future ahead of her and look forward to watching what she can do at Simpson since I know we haven’t seen her full potential yet.”
Both players say they will miss their Eureka teammates, many of whom were on hand for Thursday’s letter signing ceremony.
“I think the best times on our team were when we were just together,” Morris said. “It’s always fun, before games listening to music, and just hanging out with my teammates.”
Napoleon echoed the sentiment when asked what she’ll remember the most about her time competing at Eureka High.
“All my teammates,” she said. “All the fun times.”