Tyler Nichol stood on the stage inside Grain Valley High School's auditorium and felt a bit like a proud father.
That's because the Eagles boys soccer coach was watching his first athlete sign a letter of intent to play college soccer – and it was at his alma mater, Avila University in Kansas City.
Jake Desselle joined Alex Smith and Jordan Morrison in a Wednesday morning signing session that packed the auditorium stage with family, classmates and teammates.
“This is a pretty special day,” said Nichol, who led the Eagles to a 16-4 record last fall. “Jake is going to my alma mater and playing for my coach, Chris Clements.
“He wanted to know about Jake's character and his ability out on the field, and I told him he couldn't recruit a better athlete or individual.”
Desselle was the first to sign his letter, and he took his time signing the important document.
“They told me to take a lot of time signing so everyone could get pictures, so I did,” Desselle said, “It's probably the best signature of my life. You can read every letter.”
Desselle said he is thrilled to be going to Avila, where he will play right back.
“A dream came true for me today,” Desselle said. “I wanted to play for a quality program, and I wanted to stay close to home so my family and friends could come watch me play. This is the perfect place for me.”
The University of Alabama-Hunstville turns out to be the perfect place for Morrison, one of the standout volleyball players in Eagles history and a Class 3 All-Kansas City/Northwest Region pick her senior season.
“I don't think this is real because it hasn't hit me yet,” said Morrison, a right-side hitter. “I visited the university and fell in love with it. The coaches and girls were great, the university is beautiful, they have a wonderful volleyball program and have the engineering degree I was looking for. I couldn't be happier.”
Eagles coach Keri Peterson believes Morrison will be a solid addition to Alabama-Hunstville, an NCAA Division II school.
“She's a good fit for the program, and I think she's going to have a great college career,” Peterson said.
Smith will pitch for one of the top junior college programs in the Midwest at Coffeyville Community College in Coffeyville, Kan.
“Alex is going to get stronger and stronger and over the next two years – anything can happen,” Eagles baseball coach Mark Lyford said. “I think the junior college rout is the best for Alex.”
Smith said he looks at the next two years as a path to an NCAA Division I program.
“Coffeyville has such a great reputation,” the right-handed pitcher said. “I can get stronger and work on my game and see what happens in two years. I'm really excited about this opportunity.”