Seniors sign to play at the collegiate level

Kayla Yi, Photographer

On graduation day, 192 seniors will walk across a stage towards their new futures as adults.  As they leave behind 13 years of tests, long-term assignments and homework, they step onto a new path and go their separate directions. For two seniors, the path leads not only to a college education, but for an opportunity to continue their pursuit of a passion.

Seniors Rachel Evans and Travis Mays have both signed with colleges, agreeing to play sports for at least a year while in college. Sport signings attract the attention of college sports fans across the nation because the students that sign with schools will determine the team for the next year.

Both athletic ability and academics are taken into consideration when a decision is made. The entire process is directed by the student; application, scouting and the actual signing is the result of the student’s dedication to their athletic career.

 

Rachel Evans

Rockhurst University -Softball

Along with studying to become a physical therapist and making new friends at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Mo., senior Rachel Evans will be out on the field playing softball. Evans, who has been playing catcher for 13 years, was selected for the honorable mention at the All-East Kansas League junior year.

“There was a lot of relief and happiness when I finally signed,” Evans said. “I had been stressing about it over the summer and there’s not much time at our age to make a decision.”

This decision is a reflection on both Evan’s accomplishments and the coaches that train with her.

“I was really excited when I heard that Rachel was signing with Rockhurst,” head coach Shari Schaake said. “It’s kind of cool to brag ‘Yeah, I have a kid playing for a college’.”

Such an achievement is not only celebrated by Evans and her coach. An entire team of softball players greeted the news with excitement and enthusiasm.

“Everyone was really encouraging,” Evans said. “A lot of girls are going through the same thing and the younger girls were able to see how to sign. They were all really heartfelt.”

With one signing, the softball coach now has bigger ambitions.

“I really want to have as many kids sign with schools as possible now,” Shaake said. “I played [softball] in college and I loved it. I want other kids to have the same experience that I did.”

Although athletic talent is a large part of signing with a college,  it is not the only factor that goes into consideration.

“The coaches are looking for people who can talk for themselves,” Evans said. “Sometimes a good attitude is more important that talent.”

 

Travis Mays

University of Central Missouri-Golf

For senior Travis Mays, playing for a college was simply the next step on his long career of golf.

“I always knew that I would be playing golf in college,” Mays said. “I’ve been playing since I was five and I just knew it was right.”

Mays visited the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg and later contacted the golf coach about his interest in playing. The process of signing is conducted by the student, high school coaches do not apply for them.

“Golf is different than team sports like basketball or soccer where the coach tries to find you,” Mays said. “You have to go and show yourself off to the coaches.”

Head coach at UCM responded with his interest in signing with Mays. From there, Mays and UCM head golf coach Tim Poe discussed the details of the signing.

With the frenzy of applications over, Mays can now breathe a sigh of relief. With a National Letter of Intent, Mays will be able to play at UCM for at least a year.

“It takes a lot of pressure off [of me],” Mays said. “I know that a lot of seniors will still be looking at schools but I’ll be able to relax a bit.”

Head coach Nate Winslow said Mays was looking at colleges last year, UCM included.

“I figured that he would sign somewhere because he’s a pretty high level golfer,” Winslow said.

Mays now sets his sights on his future at UCM.

“I’ve gained a lot of confidence in myself,” Mays said. “I’ve set my goals and expectations even higher now.”