"It feels great seeing kids play at the next level because it means we're developing them the right way," Alvarez said. "They don't have to go to a four-year school directly. I've sent girls to junior colleges and that's perfectly fine. A four-year program is just something extra. I'm really proud of Mia for going through with this."
Alvarez said one of Santana's best traits is her ability to punch above her weight. She's about 5-feet tall, yet she can hold her own against bigger players.
"She's a very smart player and she uses her speed really well," Alvarez said of Santana. "She's not a player who goes after contact, but she likes to touch the ball and move the ball up quickly. She can read the game and that's an advantage. She can compete at this level. Who knows if she'll start right away, but she'll definitely compete and earn herself a spot there."
Alvarez said Santana taking on this challenge can show the younger players that they can follow a similar path.
"What I like about Mia, because of her size people underestimate her a lot," Alvarez said. "I had her in club since day one and something I've always had confidence in was her willingness to never give up. I've always been able to depend on her on the field. Seeing her grow to this point and seeing her get this scholarship is an example of hard work paying off. It also teaches the freshmen of what is possible. She's set the bar pretty high."
After Santana signed with San Diego Christian, the Saints played a Friday night home game against Nipomo and won 3-1 on penalty kicks. The match was tied 1-1 in regular time.