Fifteen student athletes signed their national letters of intent to play their respective sports in college during a ceremony held at South Forsyth High School Wednesday morning—the largest November signing period haul in the school’s history, breaking the previous record of 14.
“Our administration here is a sports-centric one,” South softball coach Ronnie Davis said. “We have a lot of people here who have had kids play sports, have been involved in sports themselves and realize how useful it can be toward building character and molding young minds. It's what makes being a high school coach successful—watching that growth.”
South athletes put pen to paper in front of a full auditorium, posed with parents and received praise endorsements from coaches. Of the group, eight will head to compete at the Division I level—including one basketball player, four softball players, a swimmer and two volleyball players.
A couple of pitchers headlined the event. Katherine Huey had been a verbal commit to Purdue but recently changed her plans—on Wednesday she wore Duke apparel as she took the stage, signing with the Blue Devils.
Huey’s commitment switch means the likelihood of her pitching against her long-time catcher Bianca Mora goes way up. That’s because Mora will play at Georgia Tech—both schools are members of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“We've already talked about that,” Huey said. “We look at it more as an opportunity to see each other than the competition part. I'd definitely try to strike her out though.”
Kara Bilodeau, who didn’t take the mound for the War Eagles during the last two seasons because of a hardship waiver issue, signed with Auburn.
Another future Tiger is Shea McNamara, the school’s dominant middle hitter on the volleyball team that advanced to the state semifinals two seasons in a row.
“When Shea started playing varsity for us I sent some of her film over to one of my coaching buddies at Auburn,” South head coach Kelly Wren said. “Within a day I got a call back telling me not to show the film to anyone else for a month, to give Auburn a month to build a relationship with her. It worked out.”
Other Division I signees include basketball star Evan Cole, who will play for a recent NCAA tournament team in UNC-Wilmington, along with softball’s Sarah Womack (Kennesaw State), swimming's Bailey Frierson (Fordham) and volleyball's Erin Yeatman (North Florida).
Five signees will say in state: baseball player Brett Graczyk will go to Young Harris along with softball's Emily Harris, while basketball player Emily Dreslinski signed with Emmanuel College in northeast Georgia and Mora and Womack will call the Atlanta metro home.
The farthest-traveled signee will be Gigi Barrio of the swimming program. She'll head to the University of Sioux Falls in South Dakota.
Volleyball's Amanda Nugent, who won the FCN's Player of the Year award last season, will elect to go the Division II route and play for Montevello in Alabama. That program shares league with many Georgia schools, including West Georgia, Georgia College and Young Harris.