Every high school athlete dreams of earning a scholarship to play their favorite sport at the top universities in the nation. Reality is though, the odds are pretty slim in getting there, but thanks to the growing popularity of junior college athletic programs, high school athletes have a place to play and earn an education without racking up massive debt.
One such athlete, former All-CIF, La Quinta High School standout Robbie Polimeni who chose to stay home and play football at College of the Desert.
"It’s honestly, the best thing… I call my mom roommate… she gets mad at me sometimes," Polimeni says. But I’m honestly so fortunate that I have someone to take care of me and pay rent and all that good stuff while I come here and get my education… I could have gone to any JC (junior college) in state, out of state, but I chose to stay here and take advantage of the opportunity."
Head Football Coach Jack Steptoe, in his third season says keeping local talent has been a hallmark of his program.
"One of my main goals as head coach was to try to keep a lot of the local players," Steptoe says. "I think there’s enough local talent here that we can win and this year… there’s probably more than half my team are local kids…So that kind of speaks for itself."
Same goes for other sports like soccer and volleyball, nearly the entire rosters are former high school standouts from this area.
"Well, I wasn’t going to play volleyball after high school," says former Palm Springs High standout volleyball player Kaylie Edgar. "I was going to go out of the valley and I decided I do really like it still and going to College of the Desert was a good decision and I’m happy with it. I hope to go on and play outside the valley as well, it’s just a good bridge to get there."
Saturday is Homecoming for the Roadrunners football team. They’ll be hosting their top rival in the "Palms To Pines" Trophy Game and it’s their conference opener as well, giving local fans and college football fans all something to cheer for.
"Saturday… 6:00 pm. It’ll be San Jacinto versus COD. I recommend all you guys come," says Polimeni. "And I really appreciate it," he adds.
Great to see the local high school athletes finding opportunity here and then beyond. Polimeni is getting looks from Division-1 schools like Colorado and athletes have gone from COD to top universities like Purdue, Alabama, USC and more in many sports.