Nov. 9—FAIRMONT — A day that brought cheers and applause for the community at East Fairmont High, four senior student-athletes signed their letters of intent to continue playing the sports they love at the college level.
Breanna Waldron, Kierstyn Maxey, Ayla Webster and Kenly Rogers all signed letters in the East Fairmont gymnasium in front of friends, family, teammates and coaches Wednesday afternoon.
"I think this whole school, we all support each other," Waldron said, expressing the feelings of all the athletes on signing day. "Everybody's here to watch me sign and it's amazing. I really feel blessed that I get this opportunity, and I have so many people supporting me."
Athletic Director and head girls basketball coach James Beckman introduced the athletes before they signed and took pictures with those there to support them.
Waldron, a member of the swim team, started the day at East Fairmont. She signed her letter of intent to swim at West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon.
"Whenever I visited, I really thought it was a really good environment, and it really felt like family to me," Waldron said. "All the team came out, and they really felt like they wanted me there, and it's also close to home so I can see my family a lot. I think it was just really the perfect fit for me."
She looked at other schools such as West Virginia University, Penn State University, Fairmont State University and Shepherd University before ultimately choosing West Virginia Wesleyan. She expects to compete in distance swim events for the Bobcats.
Waldron still doesn't know what she plans to major in, but she's narrowed it down to pre-medicine or political science. She also said she will most fondly remember the swim team at East Fairmont and going to football and basketball games.
Maxey, a captain on the soccer team that came a game shy of states this season, signed her letter of intent to play soccer at Slippery Rock University in Slippery Rock, Pa.
"I fell in love with the campus the first time I went to visit," Maxey said. "I just wanted to go on an academic tour because they were recruiting me. So I went, I looked at the campus, and I really enjoyed it. I like the coach that I'm going to be playing for, and they have a really good exercise science program."
She said she wants to become a physical therapist, taking advantage of the High School Fast Track Program at Slippery Rock. She chose SRU over Middle Tennessee University, Fairmont State and Bowling Green State University.
For Eric Wright, the head girls soccer coach at East Fairmont, Maxey provides an example for other members of his team that they can play soccer after high school.
"It means a lot within our program," Wright said. "We have quite a few girls returning that have this potential to sign and play at the next level. I like it so that these players can come here and see another example from Kierstyn [Maxey] what can come from hard work."
Webster, a member of the Bees' cheer team, chose to join the cheer team at Glenville State University in Glenville. She said it took her one visit to decide GSU over WVU and Fairmont State.
While some athletes with cheer backgrounds in high school might go the acrobatics and tumbling route in college, Webster chose to stick with cheer because she saw how much of a bond the cheer team at Glenville State has.
"That is a huge aspect to me when looking at a team," Webster said. "I love being able to be friends with my team."
She plans to major in criminal justice and achieving her dream of working in the criminal justice field. Shows like "Criminal Minds" and "CSI" inspired her to take this route, and Glenville State's program drew her to that school.
Finishing the signing day, Rogers signed her letter of intent to continue her basketball career at West Virginia State University. She'll go from playing for the Bees' girls' basketball team to the Yellow Jackets' women's team.
"[The coaches] have been very consistent with talking to me and getting to know me the last couple of years, so I've grown a great relationship with them," Rogers said. "I want a place that feels like home, and they have a great program down there and a great culture."
Rogers chose WVSU over other Mountain East Conference schools such as West Virginia Wesleyan, Davis & Elkins College, Wheeling University and Glenville State and other schools like Bethany College. She plans on majoring in psychology and hopes to become a neurologist.
Like Maxey for the girls soccer team, Rogers becomes the most recent example of how hard work and dedication creates opportunities to continue playing sports at the next level, according to Beckman.
"That's back-to-back years we've had college signings with Morgan Cochran at Bethany last year and now Kenly Rogers at West Virginia State," Beckman said. "I don't think we're done this season with college signees. It gives our young athletes in this program an idea of what hard work and dreams can do for you."
Reach Colin C. Rhodes at 304-367-2548