By Jonamar Jacinto
“If I’m being completely honest, I surpassed even my own expectations,” said Ripon High senior Sienna Starck, “but the goals were always there.”
Starck put the finishing touches of her decorated golf career for Ripon on Wednesday morning when she signed with Cal State East Bay. She led the Indians’ historic run this fall, earning co-MVP honors in the Valley Foothill League North Division and helped the program earn its first-ever Sac-Joaquin Section title in Division V.
It’s all she had hoped for and more when she tried out for the team as a freshman. Ripon coach Eric Dambrosio always thought she had the potential.
“It’s not a surprise because of her hard work and determination,” he said. “She’s going to be as good as she wants to be. I saw the talent in her as a freshman. She worked hard and deserves every bit of it.”
Starck will receive a partial athletic scholarship and pursue a degree in business.
Over the summer she fished for schools with women’s golf programs that could be a good fit for her. Emails were sent to many coaches, and Cal State East Bay’s Alan Sue was one of the few to bite. When she visited the Hayward campus she was sold.
“When I saw the school I fell in love,” Starck said. “I felt right away like that was it.”
Even better, it’s only about an hour away from home.
“It’s just far enough but not too far,” she said.
Starck figures she will have an opportunity to contribute to the team as a true freshman next years; six of the 10 Pioneers listed on the roster are seniors. Cal State East Bay, an NCAA Division II school, has fared well so far this season, most recently taking second in the Dennis Rose invitational in Hilo, Hawaii.
Starck has already been part of a building process while with Ripon.
“I started out with the program seven years ago and we didn’t win a match,” Dambrosio said. “Sienna helped our team turn it around. She was a big part of the leadership of the team, whether she knew it or not. She quietly went about being a leader by example and the other girls followed. And that’s one of the nice things about her; she is all about the team.”