East athletes make it official with Winter Signing Day

Senior Tre Jones signs his National Letter of Intent to play football at the Naval Academy. “Playing for a school like Navy isn’t just a four-year commitment, it’s a forty-year commitment,” Jones said. Photo courtesy of Pratik Chittanoori.

Sixteen Oswego East student-athletes signed their letters of intent to play college athletics this Wednesday, February 1.

Nationally, only five percent of all student athletes sign to play at the collegiate level. The Winter Signing Day is one of three where athletes make their transition to collegiate athletics official in front of family, friends, and coaches.

Senior Morgan Hoffman, who is playing women’s soccer for University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, said that she would regret not going forward with the sport she loves most.

“I’ve been doing this since I was a little kid,” Hoffman said. “There was no way I could imagine a life without playing soccer and training every day.”

Part of the recruiting, committing, and signing process is finding a school that feels like home to the athlete.

For senior Kenzie Gatz, she said the moment she stepped onto the diamond at St. Mary’s University, she knew she belonged. 

“A big part of my decision was the relationship I formed with my coaches,” Gatz said. “The campus was beautiful, and I liked the location, but it was meeting everyone involved with the team that sealed the deal for me.”

Senior Cody Haynes, who committed to Black Hawk College to play baseball, said that he feels appreciative about being part of this exclusive five percent club.

“Since I was young, I really wanted to pursue baseball to the highest level, and going to college, I have the opportunity to do that now,” Haynes said. “It’s definitely a big accomplishment. It feels good to know all the hard work I’ve put in has paid off.” 

Signing Day is also a way for athletes to pledge their commitment to the time, energy, money, and training in order to play at their school.

Senior Tre Jones, who committed to play football at the Naval Academy, said that traits like discipline and respect will not be hard to re-learn, thanks to the education from his parents and coaches.

“Values that Navy holds high are ones that I’ve been taught my entire life,” Jones said. “My family, both on and off the field, expect me to put my best foot forward every day. Going to the Naval Academy will just strengthen that.”

Head football coach Tyson LeBlanc said that Jones’ adaptability and tenacity will make the Naval Academy a great fit.

“[Jones] is a guy who is able to find his niche anywhere,” LeBlanc said. “He’s the kind of person that others will want to follow, and take advice from, which is something I think the Naval Academy will appreciate about him.”

After putting pen to paper, senior Riley Doggett, who committed to play basketball for Aurora University, said that she’s excited about her future, and relieved the hardest part is over.

“Recruiting was very long for me. Sometimes it felt dragged out and complicated,” Doggett said. “But I’m very happy with the outcome, and I’m glad I know I get to play basketball for four more years.”

The third and final National Signing Day for the class of 2023 is May 1. 

Kelsey Gara is a staff editor for Oswego East’s online news magazine The Howl.

Leave a Reply