Story by Destiny White and Trey Martin, photo by Caleb Hanna
On Feb. 1, over a dozen Dutch Fork athletes participated in National Signing Day, formally committing to play sports at the collegiate level and beginning the next chapter of their athletic careers.
“[I committed because] Coach Elliott is a great guy, he’s a motivator, and he is going to make you a better person and player. I can go far academically also, so my family felt like it was the best fit for me,” Georgia State commit Malik Sumter said.
Athletes all believed the recruiting process was a stressful one, requiring the athlete to find the right fit between athletics and academics.
“I committed because I thought it was a good fit for me, and I hope to develop my game more and hopefully get to the next level,” Spartanburg Methodist commit Ward Hacklen said.
The athletic recruiting process is similar to that of an academic college search, requiring the student to get on campus and see what it is like themselves.
“The recruiting process was really stressful. I guess my favorite part was taking the official visits, those were really fun, ” Wofford commit Lauren Joch said.
According to senior Meghan Murphy, who signed with Emory University in Atlanta, visiting out of state campuses is a unique way to experience new things.
“The ability to go and travel and visit campuses and get what it was going to feel like to be on campus. It was just fun to go around and be a part of things and be in different places than Columbia,” Meghan said.
Committing to play college sports is a huge feat in the live of these athletes, and each has set personal goals for what they expect out of college athletics.
“I want to go around and play against the players in our league and see how it is. Hopefully it will make my game better and maybe one day I will play professionally,” Ward said.
Not only do seniors commit to play sports, but also commit to work towards their academic degree.
“Softball at Emory, we definitely want to try and win a national championship. They finished eighth last year at the World Series, so I think that’s definitely on their schedule. But also, I want to do what I have to do academically at Emory to get my degree,” Meghan said.
The athletes were all thankful for the lessons teachers and coaches at Dutch fork have taught them.
“The work ethic [is one thing I’m thankful for]. They push you to the limit, they get whatever they can out of you, and the next level coaches all say that we are prepared, so I thank all of my coaches for that,” Malik said.
As the athletes sign their letter of intent, they look back on what they’ve learned in high school that has prepared them for the next level.
“Patience and working with others, especially on a team, it builds good relationships with your teammates,” Lauren said. “[It] makes sure you can get along with everyone, and with patience, in the sport of tennis you need go patience.”