By Ray Hamill — One of the best local basketball players in recent years was back in the area on Tuesday as the Crusaders celebrated a trio of student-athletes taking their talents to the next level.
Lele Tanuvasa, who played sports for three years at St. Bernard’s before moving to Stockton for her senior year last summer, will play basketball at Division-I University of Colorado.
She was joined at the signing by her former teammate Mataya Amen-Sherman, who has committed her future to the College of Marin women’s basketball program, as well as Owen Shanahan, who will compete in track and field at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
The talented senior was a multi-sport standout during his four years at St. Bernard’s, competing in football, tennis, basketball and golf.
And he took up track late in the season, after being encouraged to do so by younger sister Madelyn, who is one of the top track stars in the area.
He immediately took to the new sport, placing first in both the discus and high jump at the Brookings Rotary Invitational in just his second time ever competing, while setting a PR of six feet in the latter.
Shanahan had already planned on attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, but his high school track coach Dana Fahey, who had connections at the university, put him on the coaches radar and they immediately invited him to walk on.
And that local connection played a big part in her decision.
Former Fortuna Husky and close friend Isobel Crosswhite was a freshman with the Mariners last season and Sherman says she is looking forward to playing with her again.
And after visiting the area on Crosswhite’s recommendation, Amen-Sherman immediately knew it was the right fit.
“I went down there and looked at the school, and I loved it,” she said. “It kind of reminded me of SB. Everyone was so inclusive.”
Tanuvasa also is a talented multi-sport athlete and was a Little 4 MVP in both volleyball and basketball during her time at St. Bernard’s.
“It didn’t matter what sport she played she just excelled,” SB Athletic Director Matt Tomlin said at the signing. “One of the best athletes Humboldt County’s ever seen.
“We’re honored that she wanted to come back and have a signing ceremony here.”
This past school year she attended St. Mary’s High School in Stockton and played for the ninth-ranked girls team in all of California.
She received offers from several big schools, including USC, Cal State Fullerton, Loyola Marymount and Southern Utah, but says Colorado stood out for her.
“Out of all of them, it felt like home,” she said. “It felt like I had an instant connection with the girls there.”
Tanuvasa says she enjoyed her time at St. Mary’s.
“It was a very good year,” she said. “It was a great atmosphere. I loved playing with the team.”
Like Shanahan and Amen-Sherman, however, she also has a lot of great memories from her years at St. Bernard’s and wanted to come back to the area to sign her letter of intent in front of her friends and former teammates here.
“From the time here, I’ll always remember the family atmosphere,” she said. “And the support everyone gives each other.”
Shanahan echoed the sentiment.
“I’ll remember everybody being so kind,” he said. “The family atmosphere here is so great. I have a bunch of great friends here.”
The senior says he enjoys playing all of the sports he competed in.
“I’ll remember playing a lot of basketball with (coach) Issac (Gildea),” he said. “I like all of them. I like trying new things. And football was pretty cool. It was awesome to play out there with coach Tomlin.”
Amen-Sherman, meanwhile, also enjoyed her time competing on multiple fronts for the Crusaders and particularly the team chemistry and camaraderie on all the teams she played on.
“On the field and in the classroom,” she said.
While she has committed to play basketball at Marin, Amen-Sherman is also keeping her future options open and says she may play soccer there as well next year.
Amen-Sherman and Shanahan were named St. Bernard’s Senior Athletes of the Year.