After signings, Pompano players set on season

Posted on 30 November 2017 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

After putting “pen to paper” five Pompano Beach High School seniors are hoping to make even more history.

Five baseball players from the school recently became the first early signees from the school to ink national letters-of-intent with Division 1 college programs.

Trevor Kniskern, who was named the Dairy Farmers Player of the Year in Class 5A, led the way signing with Pepperdine, while Dillon Abell (University of New Orleans), Chris Ajello (Asbury College), Chase Costello (Louisiana State University) and Mike Schuler (Florida Atlantic University) also signed to play at the next level during national early signing day in the school’s auditorium earlier this month.

The fab five from Pompano Beach have been setting records and making history since they arrived and hope to bring a state championship back to the school this season. The team came up a run short against Jacksonville Bolles in the Class 5A state semifinal game.

This is crazy,” said Kniskern, who helped Pompano Beach win their first ever regional final and reach the state’s final four. “I have been looking forward to this day my whole life. Ever since I started to play baseball, I always thought I have to make it to college and it is finally here. It is definitely a weight off your shoulders.

I am banking on going to school,” said the 17-year-old from Lighthouse Point. “I don’t think my draft stock is that high, but we will see in three years. It should be up there.”

Kniskern said he has learned a lot of communication skills with the team and said, “When I was talking to all of the different coaches for colleges, I got to work on my speaking abilities. I’ve learned a lot.”

Being exposed to a lot of tight situations on the mound, where he is the team’s ace, has helped in close ballgames. He finished 11-1 last season on the hill for the Tornadoes.

I have been able to channel my nervousness to do well on the field,” Kniskern said. “Last year, we fell short and we are going to use that as motivation to keep it going and stay focused on the goal and that is to win a state championship, and win the first ever one for Pompano Beach High School. I am very proud of this group of guys. we have been making history together and it is really exciting to be doing all of this with them.”

These are the most we’ve had up on this stage at one time on this day,” said Pompano Beach Athletic Director Jason Frey, as he addressed friends, family, peers and others during the 40-minute ceremony. He noted that the players on stage also excel in the classroom with a 3.75 combined cumulative GPA.

Pompano Beach’s Costello, 17, said he hardly slept the night before signing day. Ironic, since he said he’s dreamed of the moment ever since he started playing.

I was very anxious for this day to come,” Costello said. “Today was just amazing. It just came up so quick. I loved it. I loved every minute of it.”

Ajello joked of his recruiting trip to the Christian school.

It was a little weird because everyone was really nice,” Ajello said with a laugh. “One of my coaches, who played for Coach Giummule, said, ‘don’t worry about it, you’ll get used to it.’”

The biggest reaction and laughter of the morning came from Abell as he recounted the singing on the bus ride home after winning the regional title last year in addition to his reasons for his college choice.

I chose them (New Orleans) because they gave me the best offer,” Abell said, “and I wanted to be away from home.”

Two years ago, the Tornados won their first district title in 55 years and now have won two straight. The team won their first regional championship and also advanced to the state final four for the first time in school history.

It’s the first time we have ever had any early signees,” Giummule said. “This is the group I came in with, so that makes it a little more special. I came in with these guys and all five of these guys who have signed have been in the program all four years. It is all about them, their families and their dreams coming true.

Today is a sweet day and I will worry about tomorrow, tomorrow,” Giummule said of the pending graduations of the players after the season. “A lot of hard work was put into this and I thank my booster club for making sure that this was set up and organized. I am appreciative of them. It is hard for their families. Good families produce good kids and this is the product of a good upbringing.”

The group was among the thousands of senior athletes around the country to sign their national letters-of-intent. Only football, soccer and men’s water polo athletes could not sign during the early signing period.

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