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With an eye toward space, Nipomo's Eric Ahler chooses UC Santa Cruz
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Senior Spotlight

With an eye toward space, Nipomo's Eric Ahler chooses UC Santa Cruz

Ever since he was a child, Eric Ahler has been gazing into space through a telescope.

"I've always liked learning about stars and space, and how it works," said the Nipomo High School Male Senior Scholar Athlete of the Year.

He will major in astrophysics, and that is one reason Ahler, who carries a 4.83 GPA at Nipomo, decided on UC Santa Cruz as the spot where he will continue his educational career.

"It's a good school for an astrophysics major," said Ahler. "I hope to go into astronomy and look through telescopes to get information about the stars for NASA or an organization like that."

Ahler said he was debating between UCLA and UC Santa Cruz, but he said UC Santa Cruz's astrophysics program won him over.

Besides, "I have done a virtual tour of the campus and it's a beautiful place," said Ahler.

UC Santa Cruz's appearance is a selling point for many although, because of the COVID-19 pandemic-induced school closures nationwide, Ahler has not been able to see the campus in person.

"I did a virtual tour," said Ahler. "I loved just how beautiful the area is. I like the outdoors."

Besides continuing his academic career at UC Santa Cruz, Ahler would also like to try to continue his athletic career there.

Ahler was an All-League volleyball selection in 2019. Nipomo's 2020 season ended with the Titans sitting at 4-2 when the pandemic caused the cancellation of sports nationwide.

Schools statewide closed in March, and spring sports in California shut down at that time as well, because of the pandemic.

The Nipomo Senior Scholar Athlete of the Year stands around 6-feet-7. He is an outside hitter, and Ahler said he hopes to try to walk on to the Banana Slugs' volleyball team as a freshman, "depending on how school is going."

To try to stay in shape during this era of pandemic-induced cancellation of team workouts, "I have been able to work out at home," said Ahler.

"I run and do other workouts I find online."

Ahler also played water polo and basketball at Nipomo, and he was an All-League First Team water polo selection. However, volleyball is his No. 1 sport.

"I've been playing volleyball since I was in middle school," said Ahler.

Ahler said he's stayed in the loop as far as what is going on at UC Santa Cruz at the moment. "I've been looking online, through the student portal," for information, he said.

"The school is going to play it by ear as far as possibly starting up again in the fall. They've talked about maybe going partly lecture halls, partly online," as far as the learning curriculum.

The school announced this week that it will be going "primarily remote" in the fall.

Students statewide have been doing distance learning since the schools closed in March.

"I would rather be in the classroom, but I would still say I've adjusted to online learning," Ahler said. 

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Sports Reporter

Kenny Cress, sportswriter for the Santa Maria Times since September of 2000. BA in political science from Cal Poly Pomona. BA in journalism from Cal State Northridge.

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