By CORY WOODROOF
The hard work and athletic ability of five Battle Ground Academy seniors paid off Wednesday, as the group signed their letters of intent on National Signing Day.
BGA football players Jack Jewell, Ollie Reese, Connor Mitchell and Drew Martin, and volleyball player Holland Mooney, will all compete at the collegiate level come fall.
Friends, family, coaches and school officials gathered in the Jewell Athletic and Wellness Center to celebrate the signings.
“This is really the first big decision they have to make in their lives,” BGA athletic director Fred Eaves said of the decisions the athletes have made. “I know it’s tough for them. I know it’s tough for families. But, in the end, I know it’s also a very important, special day, and we hope to honor that today.”
Jewell committed to Holy Cross, Reese committed to Valparaiso, Mitchell committed to Rhodes College, Martin committed to Tennessee Tech and Mooney committed to Cumberland.
“I’ve always dreamed of this as a kid, just from playing football in the backyard, [and] flag football,” Reese said. “I always dreamed about playing at the next level; Division I college. Valparaiso was the first D1 offer that I got.”
Reese said it was important to have the coaches being vocal about their interest with him, from all the way back in the fall.
“I was just excited,” Reese said of joining Valparaiso. “I’ve been waiting for this day for a really long time.”
For Holland, it’s an opportunity to receive help with her education come tuition time.
“I’m just excited to go to college,” Holland said with a laugh. “Especially with the money – just getting a scholarship, it helps my family a lot.”
She says she’s excited to find out what role she’ll be playing with their volleyball program once she gets up to Cumberland.
For Martin, the Wildcats’ former captain and starting quarterback, it’s been a day long in the making.
“It means everything, just to me and my family, and just the BGA community,” Martin said. “This has been a goal of mine ever since I was a little kid, and so, this is just a big day. It’s been a long time coming. I’ve been looking forward to it, so I’m excited.”
Martin will be competing with a group of other quarterbacks for the Golden Eagles’ quarterback roles. He credits BGA as a major contributor in his accomplishment.
“BGA, from an academic perspective, has been awesome because there’s no one better at getting kids ready for college than BGA, so I definitely feel like I’m prepared from that standpoint,” Martin said.
“And then, also, from an athletic standpoint, just the offense I’ve been in the last couple years, and the coaches I’ve had, really prepared me, just grooming me as a quarterback, and my football IQ and everything’s really improved over the past couple of years just because of these coaches, so it definitely prepared me for where I’m headed.”