By Johnny Sanders, Sports Editor
SPRINGVILLE – It has been a big week for the Springville Tigers in many phases. Football went to the playoffs for the first time in a very long time, boys and girls basketball both got started up and the Tigers also had some athletes sign to play sports at the next level.
On Monday, November 13, six young ladies signed their letters to play college softball (5) and basketball (1) and they added another signee, a young man, on Thursday from the Cross-Country team.
Isabella Bullington, a two-sport athlete (softball and basketball) signed to play softball at Mobile University. “Mobile felt like home the first time I visited there. It’s nice knowing I don’t have to worry about recruitment because that is over now, but there is pressure to win this coming season. To the underclassmen coming behind me, I would say to push through the recruiting process. It’s not a lot of fun, but it is worth it.”
Kiley Christopher signed to play softball as a catcher at Montevallo. “The coaches and players really made it feel like home. I am looking forward to getting to play with the girls this year. We have a lot to prove and I think we are ready for it. To the underclassmen, I would tell them to keep working hard, contact coaches and don’t get down on yourself if it doesn’t go the way you want it to at first. It will eventually come if you work hard and do what it takes.”
Abby Byrd signed to play basketball at Huntingdon College. “The atmosphere and the girls there make it like no other. I look forward to winning area. We don’t have a county tournament anymore so we need to focus on winning the area tournament. Underclassmen, show the girls younger that yall that you can do what we are doing too. Just keep the momentum going.
Emmy Leopard signed to play softball at Northwest Soals Community College as a utility player. “I loved the environment when I went for my visit there. The school itself felt very homey like a small town and I liked that. I’ve known and loved the coach there forever and some of my friends play there. This year my goal is to leave an impression on the younger players and tell them that the hard work is worth it and one of the most important things. I want to leave a good example for them.”
Lanie Otwell signed to play softball at Marion Military Institute as a first-base/outfielder. “I really fell in love with Marion because of the coach, Jeff Benson. I met him and he was really funny and welcoming and comforting. I loved how it felt. Then I went on my visit and it was amazing and felt like home. I am having shoulder surgery this year, so I won’t get to play, but I am really excited to be on the sidelines cheering my fellow teammates on. To the underclassmen, I would say just to continue to work hard. I know they all work hard and I would say just continue what you are doing and you will get where you want to be.”
Layla Bradshaw signed with Shelton State Community College to play softball. “I chose Shelton State because it felt like home instantly. I am most excited to see how well my team and I have grown together and to see what we can accomplish this year. I would say to underclassmen to never give up and always trust in one another and don’t take time for granted because it flies by.”
Softball coach JP Taruc said the following about the girls who signed, “I am extremely proud of these young ladies for pursuing their dreams of playing at the next level. This is an awesome day for Springville High School Girls’ Athletic Program to have five student-athletes accepting softball scholarships and one student-athlete accepting a basketball scholarship. Each of these girls is a great representative for Springville High School. They work hard on and off of the field and they are always willing to help when needed. It has been a blessing getting to coach all six of them.”
Elliot Denard signed to run cross-country at Wallace State Community College. “I chose Wallace because it is a great option. To not have to pay for my first two years of college and they are also
very competitive in cross-country. So, to be able to run with other good runners was part of it. I love just having teammates to work with in cross-country. I would like to thank coach Watson and Ford and Mahaffey for helping me and making me a better runner. To underclassmen, just work toward running, you can do anything. What you put in is what you are going to get.”
Former cross-country coach Watson, who coached Denard for 5 years, spoke of Elliot and his signing. “His work ethic is what got him here. He developed from a average runner to a very good runner and he pushed himself. He also had some older kids to help push and drive him. He is driven and doesn’t like to get beat. That’s why he has this opportunity. I hope to see him grow in his preparation and training. He tends to want to over-do it sometimes. He wants to push himself. He’s a great kid and a great runner and I am very proud of him.”
Coach Jonathan Ford, who took over for coach Nelson and has served as a cross-country assistant for the past three years, said the following about Denard, “His inner drive got him to this point. He’s quiet, reserved and you don’t hear much from him, but you see his work ethic and how hard he practices and you see the results. He also has some guys older than him who have had success and he saw that and made it a challenge for himself.”