Hundreds of people packed into the Highland Park High School cafeteria this afternoon for a National Signing Day ceremony featuring 10 senior athletes.
Signing national letters of intent with Division I schools were football players Andrew Clyde (Richmond) and Tony Richards (SMU), soccer players Diana Kay Manley (SMU) and Sara Summers (Texas Tech), and tennis player Hunter Holman (Texas Tech).
Distance runner Natalie Rathjen pledged her loyalty to Princeton, which, as an Ivy League school, does not give out athletic scholarships. Soccer player Rachel O’Neal signed with a Division II school, Missouri University of Science and Technology.
Meanwhile, Trinity University in San Antonio drew commitments from three Highland Park soccer players: Jordan Bethea, Dawson French, and Abby Tisdale. As a Division III school, Trinity cannot award athletic scholarships. But the Tigers’ coaches are certainly eager to get these Scots suited up.
“They recruit us, just the same as they do at D1 and D2 schools,” Tisdale said. “We just told them our jersey sizes and our cleat sizes. It’s the same process; we just don’t get athletic aid. But we do get a lot of academic aid, so it’s OK.”
We asked the 10 athletes how they decided where to compete on the next level.
Jordan Bethea, Trinity: “I really like the team’s style of play, and I like that it’s a small school. It’s just a really pretty campus, and all of the girls on the team are super nice. It’s really awesome.”
Andrew Clyde, Richmond: “I wanted a school that provides a great education, and a school that if I had an injury and couldn’t play anymore, it would be a school that I’d want to stay at for four years. So Richmond just fit that bill perfectly.”
Dawson French, Trinity: “Obviously, the academics are great. And the athletic program is incredible as well. But I’d have to say, for me, the most attractive thing about the program was coach Paul McGinlay. He offers this huge feeling of safety and comfort that’s attractive to a player and makes me feel really excited about being there for the next four years.”
Hunter Holman, Texas Tech: “Once I visited Tech, I immediately became really close with the guys on the team and the coach. And I just love the atmosphere over in Lubbock. Everyone there is a die-hard Texas Tech fan, and I just wanted to be a part of that.”
Diana Kay Manley, SMU: “I’ve know the coach for a long time, and we have similar soccer styles, so that was a big key for me. There’s also the academic part. SMU has a really good business school and computer science program.”
Rachel O’Neal, Missouri S&T: “I was looking for a school that was very good academically and had an environmental engineering program, which is what I want to do. They were one of my top choices academically.”
Natalie Rathjen, Princeton: “I went up there for a visit earlier in the fall and just absolutely fell in love with it. I think it’s just a really good fit for me, athletically and academically.”
Tony Richards, SMU: “It’s a home team for me. I’ve been going to their games forever.”
Sara Summers, Texas Tech: “I got there, and I just felt so at home. I mean, the coaches are incredible, and I fell in love with the girls right away. It just felt like home. I was just so comfortable, and I had so much fun on my visits.”
Abby Tisdale, Trinity: “I want to pursue academics, so I wanted a very academically rigorous school, and Trinity has a great soccer program as well. So I’m really excited.”