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Record number of CCHS student-athletes sign to colleges

Cove Leader-Press

Ryan Hicks grinned and posed for pictures as he signed a symbolic contract to attend Northumbria University in England to play soccer. He looks forward to the experience despite being so far from home.

“In England, they have a much bigger soccer program,” said Hicks. “It’s really big and I thought it would be a great opportunity…I’m just really excited to get started. It’ll be a brand-new experience with the way they practice and play.”

Copperas Cove High School athletes participated in the annual Athletics Signing Day in the main CCHS gym Wednesday afternoon where they symbolically signed a contract dedicating themselves to their chosen colleges. This year’s signing day was CCISD’s largest in at least two decades.

“This is the largest signing we’ve had in the 18 years I’ve been here,” said Coach Cari Lowery, athletic director. “24 young people representing 8 different sports, going to 9 different states and 2 countries.”

She said that many of those athletes played multiple sports and they all performed well academically.

“We are all about leadership, being great students first, being great role models first, being great representatives in our community and giving back to our community first, and then we get to participate and excel in the sport we love,” said Coach Lowery. “It’s an exceptional picture of Copperas Cove ISD.

Coach Lowery said that it’s very important that their athletes are also great students. She said that most of the colleges that contact them ask about what kind of students the athletes are and what kind of person they are. She said that there are about 8 million high school athletes in the nation and only 2-7% of them get to continue to play college athletics.

This year, three female volleyball students, Jakhi Smith, Leila Cooks, and Aaliyah Butler all signed for the same college, Rock Valley College in Rockford, IL.

Jakhi Smith said that she was glad to be attending Rock Valley College alongside her two teammates. She said she’s really going to miss her family, but it’ll be nice to have people there that she already knows since she estimates that she’ll be about 16 hours away from home.

Smith said that she likes volleyball and team sports in general because, “You meet new people, form new bonds, and it’s a competitive sport which I really like.”

Smith is a member of the National Honor Society, served as captain of the volleyball team, and regularly volunteered at the elementary school reading to the children and even helping coach with the Spring League. She said she loved working with the children. She said that she hopes to get her college degree in psychology and hopes to pursue a career as a mental health therapist.

While attending CCHS, Smith managed to achieve Academic All-District all four years and will graduate with a 3.6 GPA. Smith said that doing well academically is very important to her.

“You have to be a student before you’re an athlete,” said Smith.

For men’s volleyball, Trey Fosset signed for Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, IA.

For wrestling, both Jayden Copeland and Janel Golderos signed for Schreiner University in Kerrville, TX.

For golf, Coleton Sizemore signed for Oklahoma Wesleyan University in Bartlesville, OK.

For basketball, Henry Sanchez is currently undecided but has received several offers.

For powerlifting, Dayne Holden signed for The University of Texas at San Antonio.

For soccer, Tanner Meloon signed for Southwestern Christian University in Bethany, OK, Ryan Hicks signed for Northumbria University in Newcastle, UK, and Justin Carrion Hernandez signed for University of Dallas in Dallas, TX. Kendric Steward, Jeremiah Davis, and Gabriel Davis all signed for Shreiner University in Kerrville, TX.

For softball, Anissa Amaro signed for Hill College in Hillsboro, TX.

For baseball, Caden Harris signed for Hocking Community College in Nelsonville, OH, Blaine Butler signed for Norwich University in Northfield, VT, Zach Wilson signed for Lyon College in Batesville, AR, Braxton Ramsey signed for Principia College in Elsah, IL, and Manual Chaco signed for Luna Community College in Las Vegas, NM.

For football, Chris Garcia signed for Tyler Junior College in Tyler, TX, Jesse Salazar signed for Sterling College in Sterling, KS, Kevin Pontious signed for The University of Texas at San Antonio, and JaCoby Frazier singed for Sul Ross State University in Alpine, TX.

“The four gentlemen I have up here are some of the best I’ve had,” said football coach Tony Johnson. He praised all of the athletes for their hard work and dedication. Coach Johnson gave extra praise to Pontius saying, “Kevin Pontius might be the finest football player I’ve ever coached. He is a testament to hard work.”

Pontius said that he’s been playing football for CCISD since middle school. He said that he’s enjoyed getting to play and working alongside his fellow athletes and his coaches. He said that he’s always felt welcome playing here.

“It’s kind of bittersweet. I was getting a little sad. I’ve been here since middle school and I’ve worked really hard,” said Pontius about graduating. “I’ve gotten to bond with a lot of good friends. I’ve met most of my friends through football.”

Pontius said that he’s always pushing himself to be better and better trying to reach his next goal.

“You can accomplish anything if you work hard,” said Pontius about why he pushes himself so hard. “It builds a bond with friends when you are all working together towards a common goal.”


Copperas Cove Leader Press

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