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Two local stars make school history

Their sanctuary is the court. The volleyball court for Amanda Garofalo, the basketball court for Heather Mirabella.

Garofalo followed in the footsteps of many, serving and spiking the volleyball at Southeast.

Heather Mirabella, on the other hand, is cultivating a path for others to follow as a basketball player at Braden River, a school that will enter just its fifth year in the fall.

But they are both history makers. The first of their kind.

Both are the first girls to sign college scholarships in their respective sports at their respective schools.

Mirabella, a long-range shooter, has given her signature to play for the Warriors of Webber International University next season in Babson Park.

The pint-sized guard led Manatee County last season with 74 3-pointers while averaging 15 points, six assists and three steals a game.

The Pirates put together their best year yet.

This is the path Mirabella has hoped for since she took her first dribble as a toddler.

Most times, when her friends were playing video games, she was in the gym. When her friends were out socializing at the mall, she was in the gym. When her friends were doing anything most kids do, she was in the gym.

By now, you understand how much scribbling her name on that scholarship really meant to Mirabella.

“Basketball is something I’ve always done,” she said. “I know what something else is like, but I have just always been about basketball.”

The same goes for Garofalo. The 6-foot-tall middle blocker’s coach, Carmine, is also her father. He is a former college coach. So she’s been around the game her whole life.

But Southeast has been around for eons and has tradition-laden football and basketball programs, so it would be easy to believe the Noles have had a dominant volleyball player.

Not so.

Garofalo is the first to sign a letter of intent to play on the next level and will play at Lake Land College in Mattoon, Ill.

Garofalo’s skills speak for themselves.

In her senior season, Garofalo smashed 236 kills, 93 blocks and 310 service points. She was selected to the Herald’s 2008 First-Team All-Area Volleyball Team, too.

Garofalo also is the first player for the Noles to grab that honor in recent memory.

“I don’t think it all has registered yet,” Garofalo said. “It’s all still kind of surreal. It’s a great feeling, though. I’m just so proud of myself, and I can’t wait to get started on this new leg of my volleyball career.”

Mirabella’s and Garofalo’s recent achievements are good memories to take to college.

Ryan T. Boyd, sports writer, can be reached at 745-7017.