By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (February 1, 2017) — Across America athletes, their high schools and their college athletic programs of choice celebrated national signing day Wednesday, the first day football and men’s and women’s soccer commits could sign their national letters of intent.
The signing day excitement made its annual stop at Stephenville High School, where the foyer was packed with teammates, family, coaches, administrators and teachers to watch three SHS seniors make their college choices official.
Savannah Alford and Kalee Wright of the 4A No. 5 Stephenville girls soccer program each signed letters with Midwestern State, a Lone Star Conference and NCAA Division II member in Wichita Falls. Jacob Lopez, a Yellow Jacket defensive line standout, signed his football letter with Colorado School of Mines, a member of Division II and the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference in beautiful Golden, Colorado.
“I couldn’t be more proud of these kids, first of all because of what they have done academically to even have this opportunity, and second of all for what they have done athletically to help ensure themselves a bright future at good universities,” said Stephenville athletic director Mike Copeland. “Colorado Mines and Midwestern are getting three very special student-athletes, and I believe these kids will do a tremendous job in representing the Yellow Jackets, the Honeybees and the community of Stephenville in a first class manner.”
Alford and Wright, best friends, are excited to continue as teammates. They will have another friend along for the journey, too, as SHS student Tatum Sharp, who plays club soccer but does not play for the Bees, is also headed to MSU.
“We grew up playing together and now we get to play together in college,” said Alford, to which Wright added, “Savannah and I, obviously, are really close and I know we will grow even closer together through the next four years.”
Alford, a versatile sweeper who Stephenville head coach Casey Weil says could play anywhere on the field for the Bees, was sold on MSU after attending a camp there.
“It’s an awesome school. I went to a camp there for a week and had a blast, just loved it,” Alford said. “It’s not too big of a campus where I won’t know the people around me, and it’s definitely nice being close to home because I’m a big family girl.”
Wright said getting to know head coach Damian Clarke, third year head coach at MSU, sealed her commitment.
“I love the coach, he’s so easy to get along with,” said Wright. “He makes me love the sport all over again.”
Wright and said Alford agreed it was special celebrating signing day with so many who have been there for them throughout their prep careers.
“I don’t even know how to describe this. It’s exhilarating, everyone is watching and seeing us achieve our goals,” Wright said. “I don’t know how this day could be any better.”
How about by including a third signee.
Lopez says it was the elite engineering program that drew him to Colorado Mines.
“The education side is really big for me because I want to be an engineer,” he said. “My grandfather was an engineer, so it seemed like the perfect choice.”
Like Wright and Alford, Lopez knew immediately he wanted to attend Mines.
“The campus and everything is so beautiful, and it’s 20 minutes from everything – Denver, fishing, rock climbing, hiking, everything,” he said. “For me, it’s just been a waiting game because I was ready to sign as soon as I saw the campus.”
All three have words of advice for younger athletes, such as the “Freshman 9” on the girls’ varsity soccer club and the bevy of sophomores who began their varsity football careers last fall.
“Keep doing what you’re doing, and every year when you move up, keep pushing the girls younger than you,” Alford said. “Always set higher goals to reach for.”
Wright added, “Work hard, bust your butt and give 110 percent and don’t take anything for granted.”
Lopez echoed Wright, saying, “Just work hard, show dedication in everything you do both on the field and in the classroom and be as great as you can be.”