Highland HOF welcomes inductees
Four women inducted into Highland’s Hall of Fame
PALMDALE —Friday night was special for four Highland alums who were inducted into the Highland Hall of Fame in the school’s library.
Families, faculty and students came together to celebrate the accomplishments of April Corrigan Graves (1999), Tiana Webberly (2009), Jessica Davis (2010) and Rachel Garcia (2015).
The fact that it was four women who were chosen by the Highland Hall of Fame selection committee this year, was not lost on the inductees.
“That was dope,” Davis said. “Even with Tiana, we went to school together, so to see her back and we’re both getting awards, that was super cool.”
Garcia was not able to attend the ceremony as she left last week to join Team USA Softball for their pre-Olympics tour around the country. Her parents, Tony and Christine Garcia, accepted the award on her behalf.
Graves was a member of ASB in high school and was elected historian for the 1997-98 year. She also served as the school’s mascot, portraying Belle the Bulldog, was a member of one of the first swim teams at the school and was given the ASB Sparkplug award and Most Spirited Senior award.
“Since I was really involved in high school it means a lot,” Graves said about her induction. “My parents kept me really busy in sports and ASB and I was the mascot and I had a lot of school pride. So 20 years later to come back in and be honored and recognized for that, it means a lot. I don’t like getting awards, but this one really meant something. I’m pretty proud.”
Graves was also impressed with her fellow inductees.
“I’m really excited to be along with such amazing women,” she said. “I mean, an American Ninja Warrior and two Olympians that came from Palmdale and more specifically Highland, that gives me goosebumps.”
After graduating, Graves started working at Signs and Designs while attending college. She loved what she did there and eventually purchased the company in 2011.
She has worked at Signs and Designs for 20 years and one of her projects she is most proud of is the fabrication of the half scale replica of the AV Vietnam Wall.
“It was a big project, because we had to figure out how to do it,” Graves said. “It’s a cool project to be a part of. It’s like the thing I’m most proud of.”
She also has been extremely involved in the community and her children’s lives. She married Charles Graves in 2004 and they have two sons, Nate and Emerson. Nate will be starting school at Highland High in a year and a half.
Webberly was an accomplished pole vaulter on the track and field team for the Bulldogs after competing in gymnastics
since she was 3. Because of illness and injuries she could only compete in her sophomore and junior seasons. She won Golden League in the pole vault and reached the CIF State Prelims.
“It’s definitely an absolute honor,” Webberly said of her induction. “I would have never imagined (this), 10 years ago now, 11 years. First of all, time just flies and I can’t believe it’s been 10 years, but it’s just such an honor and a privilege with a past teammate of mine (Davis) and some other incredible people.”
After high school, Webberly attend Cal State Northridge where she qualified for Regionals all four years. Her best vault record is 13 feet, 3 1/2 inches, which broke a school record at the time.
Webberly is now known as “Sweet T” on the show American Ninja Warrior. She has competed on the show since season 7 in 2015 and is a three-time National Finalist (2016, 2018, 2019). She was the top female in the Los Angeles Region in 2018 and 2019.
“It’s definitely an incredibly opportunity and just super encouraging and motivating just to be a part of it, not only because of the community, but the impact that it makes,” Webberly said. “It’s showing people that we’re always facing obstacles and a lot of times we fall, but every time you can get back up and try again and get a little farther the next time. Or, sometimes you fall again in the same place. It kind of gives that never-give-up mentality and just keep looking forward to the next step. One day at a time.”
Aside from American Ninja Warrior, she is also a stuntwoman and has worked on shows and movies such as The Last Ship, Marvel’s Runaways, Zombieland and 911.
Davis and Webberly were actually on the Highland track and field team together. Davis, however, was a sprinter. She won a CIF State championship in the 200-meter dash in 2008 and was an MVP in track and field and basketball at Highland.
Davis came back to Highland last year and spoke to the students about her life.
“Honestly, it means everything to me,” Davis said of her induction. “I never in a million years thought I would actually be inducted. … I feel blessed and I feel accomplished and I really feel grateful, most importantly.”
From high school, she moved on to run at USC, which is also the alma mater of her father, Jesse Davis, who played football for the Trojans. At USC, Davis was named USA Today’s Female Athlete of the Year in 2009, USC Freshman Record Holder, USC All-American, USC All-Time American and was ranked the No. 6 all-time female athlete in the 100 and 200 meters.
After college, Davis earned a gold medal at the Junior PanAm Games and was a bronze medalist in the 200 meters. After retiring from track and field, Davis joined a new sport in bobsledding. She won a gold medal at the World Championships in bobsled after training for just a couple of months prior to joining the World Cup Team.
She is currently aiming to compete in bobsled at the Winter Olympics in 2022.
Davis is also beginning her third year as the head sprints coach at El Segundo High School. She coached the girls varsity team to its first league title in school history last season.
Davis’ father is proud of her accomplishments after following in his footsteps to USC and now going further in sports.
“It’s like I’m following her footsteps,” Jesse said. “All her decisions are her decisions. We didn’t pressure her to go to SC. I’m proud of her. She’s such a good daughter. She’s awesome.”
Rachel Garcia has had a whirlwind year after leading UCLA to a national championship in softball. Garcia has won practically every award a college softball player could win, but that national title was the one thing she always wanted.
In high school, Garcia started the “Golden League Gives Back” initiative, which is still carried on by the softball team today. Each visiting team will bring donations for a charity chosen at the beginning of the season and the items are delivered to the charity at the end of the season.
Garcia was also named the Gatorade State Player of the Year twice and won the Gatorade National Softball Player of the Year in 2015, among many other awards in high school. She led the Bulldogs to their first CIF-Southern Section Division 4 championship game, but tore her ACL in the 13th inning of the epic game. She was named Division 4 Player of the Year.
After a year of intense recovery, Garcia got to play her first season of softball at UCLA and was named the All-Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and was named to the Pac-12 First Team.
In her redshirt sophomore season, the awards kept coming as she was named Pac-12 Player of the Year, ESPNW Player of the Year, USA Collegiate Player of the Year and the Honda Sport Award for Softball, among many others.
Last season, after winning the national championship, she was also named the Women’s College World Series Most Outstanding Player. She was the Pac-12 Player and Pitcher of the Year, which was a first for the conference.
Garcia won the Honda Softball Award again and was named the Honda Cup Award Winner for Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year, just to name a few of her many awards.
Garcia has been on the Women’s National Softball Team since 2018, winning gold medals in the International Cup (2018-19), the WBSC World Cup (2018) and the Pan American Games (2019).
She and Team USA will travel to Tokyo this summer in the hunt for an Olympic Gold Medal.
Garcia has been back to the Antelope Valley several times to speak at softball camps and at her alma mater, inspiring young softball players in her hometown.
“It’s definitely an honor,” Christine Garcia said of Rachel’s induction into the Hall of Fame. “You can’t forget where you came from.”
The inductees also received certificates from Senator Scott Wilk and Assemblyman Tom Lackey’s offices.
SPEECH — Tony Garcia, center, comments about the accomplishments of his daughter, Rachel Garcia, who was inducted into the Highland Hall of Fame on Friday, as his wife, Christine Garcia, second from left, looks on along with other inductees Jessica Davis, left, April Corrigan Graves, second from right, and Tiana Webberly, right.