Student-athletes across a range of sports signed their National Letters of Intent during ceremonies Wednesday, Feb. 5.
For local student-athletes Wednesday, Feb. 5, was a day of celebration and relief as many around the area signed their National Letters of Intent with the colleges of their choice.
Over at the gym on the campus of Ocoee High School, the Knights’ football program celebrated as three of its own — Esdras Feneluc (Culver-Stockton College), Kelton Law (Bethune-Cookman University) and Nick Wright (Heidelberg University) — sat at a table placed in front of family and friends.
For Wright the moment was an achievement he had been looking forward to since he first checked out his future home up in Ohio. He recalled the homeyness of campus, and how he enjoyed the colder weather offered by the Midwest.
“I feel really good that somebody took a chance to invite me into their home, and (that they’d) feel like I’d be a good piece of the puzzle that they’re missing,” Wright said. “I just want to be the best player that I can be.”
Law and Feneluc both agreed with Wright on just how much stress had been lifted from their shoulders with the afternoon’s event. It’s a grueling process, and for the most part it’s not fun, Law said.
And a lot went into each player’s school choice, though for Law it was all about the opportunity to play at a college that felt familiar to him.
“I felt like it was family,” Law said. “Plus it’s closer to home, so my mom can see me play, but the first time I visited it just felt like home.”
Finding a place to play at the next level is one thing, but it’s only the beginning, said Knights head football coach Aaron Sheppard during his short speech.
Excelling at the collegiate level is not easy work, and it takes effort — something that Feneluc, Law and Wright all understand.
“I’m just excited to learn new things — the major I’ll be majoring in, the football experience and my first college game,” Feneluc said. “I just have to stay in the books, stay in the film room and work in the weight room — just dominate every time.”
At Olympia High School — two hours after Ocoee’s signing event — attendance dean Cody Jarrett introduced the school’s eight signees, as athletic director Kevin McElveen handed over his mic duties to enjoy the event as a parent. McElveen’s daughter, Emma, signed her Letter of Intent to play volleyball at the University of South Carolina Upstate.
Over the last four years at Olympia, Emma McElveen has broken records — including surpassing the 2,000 assist mark this season — and established herself as a top talent. Still, though, the feeling she had on signing day left her almost speechless.
“I am so grateful — it’s such a surreal feeling,” Emma McElveen said. “I’ve been working at this since seventh or eighth grade, and my dream was to always play Division I in college and now it’s happening — I just can’t believe it.”
While Emma McElveen travels up to South Carolina, Christina Jeffers will be heading a bit further north as she looks to make a splash on the women’s soccer team at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky.
The school — which is a private liberal arts college — only has around 1,400 students total, but that was a big part of what made Jeffers realize it’s where she wanted to be.
“For me, the biggest thing was how the campus is small, and how the class sizes are small and it makes it a lot easier to get to know everyone on campus, whether they're an athlete or not,” she said. “And in the classroom you get to know your professor more, because it’s a small class size.”
Of the school’s eight signees, only kicker Colby Kintner represented the football program, as he signed with The Citadel.
Located in Charleston, South Carolina, the school is well known for its tradition and structure as a military college, and it’s exactly what Kintner was looking for, he said.
“They do plan on bringing me in as a freshman starter, so I’m really looking forward to going into a program like that,” Kintner said. “Just being able to play with that team, and learning a lot of the core values that that school has (will be great).”
NSD 2020 SIGNEES
Daveon Reynolds — Garden City Community College (football)
Carolina Davis – Emerson College (volleyball)
Jacquez Jones-Lane College (football)
Isaiah Givens-Lane College (football)
Nivon Holland-Charleston Southern (football)
Riley Stephens – University of Central Florida (football)
Shi Gaskin – Georgia Military College (football)
Tevin Griffey– Florida A&M University (football)
Grant Hildago– Stetson University (football)
Jackson Hodor– Stetson University (football)
Shemar Williams-Davenport University (football)
Nikkem Reynolds – Mars Hill (football)
Dante Johnson – Davenport University (football)
Brandon Fields – University of South Carolina (baseball & football)
Ivan Vanberverhoudt – Anderson University (baseball)
Henry Austad — Delta State University (football)
Seth Daniels — United State Military Academy (football)
Maria Kime — Asbury University (cheer)
Michael Lemieux-Bott — Florida Tech (football)
Karleigh Curtis — St. Petersburg College (softball)
Esdras Feneluc — Culver-Stockton College (football)
Kelton Law — Bethune-Cookman University (football)
Nick Wright — Heidelberg University (football)
Emma Colyer — Mount Aloysus College (volleyball)
Mitch Harding — Florida Institute of Technology (baseball)
Christina Jeffers — Centre College (soccer)
Colby Kintner — The Citadel (football)
Richey Lakes — University of South Florida (baseball)
Emma McElveen — University of South Carolina Upstate (volleyball)
Meghana Shivraman — Johnson and Wales University (soccer)
Ali Wagner — La Salle University (water polo)
Lake Ellis — Bryant University (football)
Michael McFayden — University of West Florida (football)
Robert Smith — University of West Florida (football)
Nemea Hall — Jones Community College (football)