Advice From Paly Alumni

Advice From Paly Alumni

Jackson Martin and Sebastian Chancellor

Since its founding in 1898, Palo Alto High has been home to some of the country’s most talented and hardworking athletes.  Take a look at eight notable players who have left their mark on Paly sports history and what advice they have to share with current Paly athletes.


Seavan Sternheim wrestled at Paly for 4 years from 1987 to 1990. During Sternheim’s senior year he placed fourth in CCS, which qualified him for states where he finished in the top-12 and was named MVP of his league. But it wasn’t always smooth sailing for Sternheim through his time as a wrestler. During his first 3 years he would always wrestle opponents that were in a higher weight class than him because he couldn’t qualify for a weight class that matched his weight. But with the help and advice from his world champion coach Dave Schultz, he learned that technique was the key to victory and that is what drove him throughout his wrestling career. 


Alexandra Lee, a 2020 graduate at Palo Alto High School, has to be one of the most athletic students to set foot on Paly’s campus. Lee, who played a whopping five sports (water polo, wrestling, swimming, softball, track and field), excelled in all of them, playing at the varsity level in all five sports for the majority of her High School career. Her first passion was in the water, so when Lee walked into the wrestling room on tryout day it was quite a transition. But Lee, a fierce competitor, quickly thrived in this new environment that pushed her outside of her comfort zone. Looking back at the two time state qualifier, it’s safe to say Lee stands as a prime example of someone who when they put their mind to something, they could really accomplish anything. She currently plays water polo for Toronto University in Canada.

Miles Tention, who graduated in 2017, was a basketball player for Palo Alto High School was named the Most Valuable Player of the Santa Clara Valley Athletic league. Tention, a 6’4 guard, was the team captain of the varsity squad who in his junior year, led the team to a record of 26-5 and 1st place in league with a record of 11-1 and clinched a Division 1 playoff berth. Moving into the playoffs, Palo Alto battled their way all the way to the championship, looking to cap off their successful season, only to lose by a margin of 61-65 to James Logan. Miles Tention then transferred for his final year of high school to St Thomas More School where he earned himself a rank of 31 in the state and 218 in the country. Tention later committed to Saint Anselm and in 2019-2020 was named as a third team all conference member. Tention is in his Senior year at Saint Anselm and aspires to play pro and later on, get into real estate.


Zander Darby, a 2021 graduate, was a multi-sport athlete for most of his life, playing basketball freshman and sophomore year, water polo all four years, and playing baseball all four years of his high school career. Darby, who played on varsity as a freshman, showed potential ever since he set foot on the field. In his senior year, Darby led the Palo Alto baseball team to a 21-5 record, earning the squad a rank of 20 in the state. The team had high hopes going into CCS but had their run cut short after a devastating loss to Valley Christian in the semi-finals. Nevertheless, Darby is one of the most successful athletes in Paly’s long decorated history and committed to UCSB to further his academic and athletic career where he will continue to do great things.


Jamal Harrison, who played baseball for Palo Alto High School between 1990 and 1994, had a very successful high school career — so much so that Harrison was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 11th round of the 1995 MLB draft. He played four years in the Minor Leagues before shifting his focus and dedication to helping at-risk youth and young developing athletes. Harrison, the current Palo Alto Baseball Head Coach, founded C2S, acronym for Confidence 2 Succeed, and has built his recognized brand that is now home to some of the state’s top athletes.


Grace Thayer, a volleyball player for Palo Alto High School in the class of 2020, had a less stereotypical journey in comparison to the “model” D1 athlete. Thayer wasn’t on the highly competitive varsity team her first two years at Paly, which created a chip on her shoulder going into the Junior season. Paly girls volleyball won league both of Thayer’s years on varsity and she was a huge contributor to both championships. But big success doesn’t always lead to immediate recognition.  With the end of high school looming and dreams of playing in college, Thayer was yet to receive an offer she wanted to pursue. But she stayed focused and motivated and just as the season was coming to a close, picked up offers that finally reflected her hard work. The newly awarded league champion committed to UMiami at the close of her season to add on to her already impressive career.


Carly Martin played on the Paly girls varsity basketball team for all four years of high school and has accomplished many achievements throughout her four years. Martin has always had to overcome adversity and prove herself on the court in order to make a name for herself at the next level. The team made the CCS finals her sophomore and junior year, and won league her freshman, sophomore, and senior year. She was individually named first team all league in both her sophomore and junior year. With these accomplishments in her arsenal, she now plays Division 3 basketball at Whitman College in Washington and will proceed in her basketball career from there.


Aubrey Dawkins played basketball at Paly his junior and senior years after transferring from Saint Francis High school. As a viking, Dawkins averaged 18.8 points and 7 rebounds per game. After taking a post graduate year at New Hampton, Dawkins received a scholarship to the University of Michigan. After playing with Michigan for his freshman year, Dawkins transferred to UCF where he would continue to play basketball. In his final season, Dawkins posted a shocking career-high 36 points and 11 rebounds against Temple, leading his team to the 2019 NCAA Basketball Tournament. In the round of 32, UCF faced off against the number 1 seeded Duke where they would take a tough 77-76 loss ending their season. Dawkins then declared for the 2019 NBA Draft where he would go undrafted. Dawkins now plays with Türk Telekom B.K, a Turkish basketball team, and will pursue his basketball career from there.


Unlike a typical single sport athlete, Allison Whitson, who graduated from Paly in 2009, was a three sport athlete in Volleyball, Track and Field, and Swimming. Whitson played volleyball all four years at Paly, was on the swim team for three years and even did high jump as a junior. Her volleyball team won league both her junior and senior year and even managed to beat Saint Francis for the first time in franchise history in the CCS quarterfinals of her senior year. As a three sport athlete, Whitson gives her advice on how to deal with high school sports given her successful experience as a Paly Athlete.


Mia Gibbs, who graduated from Paly in 2020, has secured many outstanding awards as a Viking. She played on the girls varsity volleyball team all four years of high school and were even league champions every year. As a middle blocker, Gibbs used her advice from her teammates in her first three years and applied it to her senior year where she was named the MVP of the league. Gibbs now plays Division 1 volleyball at Dartmouth University in New Hampshire, where she is currently studying biological sciences and wants to eventually become an orthopedic surgeon.