Everything changed for West Forsyth’s Bailley Concatto when she verbally committed to play softball for Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville in February of her sophomore year. There was still, after all, two years until she could officially sign an athletic scholarship, plenty of time for any number of variables to disrupt her plans.
But the moment flipped a switch for Concatto. She devoted more time and greater effort in the weight room. She did the same for her school work.
“I just found this new motivation for the things I did,” Concatto said.
That motivation sustained Concatto for those two years until this past Wednesday, when she finally signed her national letter of intent to play Division I softball in a ceremony in West’s cafeteria in front of administrators, classmates, coaches, family and friends.
West’s seven other signees Wednesday likely had their own motivations, but they all got to celebrate the same accomplishment. Concatto was joined by softball teammates Lauren Crowe (Young Harris) and Alana Frye (Kennesaw State); boys lacrosse players Jimmy Martelli (Young Harris) and Caleb Schmidt (Jacksonville); golfer Connor Pollman (Lee University); tennis player Patrick Sklenka (Air Force); and baseball player Jay Thompson (Florida SouthWestern).
All were acknowledged in front of what West athletic director Brett Phipps called the largest crowd for an early signing period ceremony at the school.
“To have a crowd like this, wow,” Phipps said.
Concatto, Crowe and Frye’s signings put a fitting period on their high school careers. Each were four-year varsity players who helped West softball to its best season in school history this past season, defeating rival South Forsyth for the first time in three years and winning a state playoff series for the first time in program history.
“This season I’m going to remember for the rest of my life,” Concatto said. “…I just can’t think of another group of seniors to do this with.”
The rest of West’s signees Wednesday still have one more season left in their careers as Wolverines – a good sign, according to Phipps.
“That tells you we might be decent in a lot of [sports] come spring,” Phipps said with a grin.