Madras High School put on an athletic day signing event May 23, with 10 White Buffalo athletes signing their letter of intent in front of the entire school.
During the high schoolers' lunch, athletes from all different sports committed to playing at the college level in front of their peers, coaches, teammates, family and friends. Athletic Director Evan Brown announced each athlete one at a time, explaining what sport the athlete would be signing for and what college he or she is attending.
The event was put together by physical education teacher and head Madras football coach Kurt Taylor, who has experience on how to coordinate signing days, with the football program putting on a similar signing day for playing football at the high school level.
"This is a signing day for kids who are going to be playing at the next level — an opportunity to sign letters of intent in front of the whole school," Taylor said. "The thought was to try and get every kid in the building to see they have the potential to go out and do something at the next level. We want our kids to go to college or trade school and this is an outlet to do so. It was also a way to honor these kids and their hard work to do what they needed to in order to play at the next level."
"This was pretty special," he said. "Most people came up to me saying they had no idea we had this many kids playing at the next level. It shows and proves to the community we are doing really good things."
Several athletes are still waiting to decide where or if they would like to play sports at the collegiate level, according to coaches and Brown.
The soccer program saw three players commit to playing college soccer. White Buffalos boys soccer players Andres Acuna, Melchor Olivera and Esteban Gomez all committed to playing at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton.
Lady Buffs soccer superstar Erika Olivera signed a letter of intent to play at Linfield College in McMinnville. The Linfield Wildcats participate in the NCAA Division III Northwest Conference.
The softball program had stellar player and multiple time first-team Tri-Valley Conference pitcher Lizzie Steuart commit to Mt. Hood Community College. Steuart and Olivera both played four years at the high school varsity level, in their specific sports.
Alley Dominiak used her athleticism and height to overpower her adversaries on the volleyball court. The senior signed her letter of intent to Chandler Gilbert Community College. The school has multiple locations in Maricopa County, Arizona.
Kobey Jorgensen is taking his talents to Claremont McKenna College, a private liberal arts school in Claremont, California. Jorgensen committed to play football in college and was a leader and captain on the Madras football team.
Another Madras football player signed a letter of intent at the signing event. Kicker Kaegan Prevett has committed to playing football at George Fox University. The future Bruin had a near perfect year for the Buffs, consistently kicking the ball through the uprights.
Madras swimmer Gabi Smith will also be attending George Fox University next year. Smith had trouble swimming early in her career, but with the right mindset and encouragement from her coaches, she made it to state her senior year.
The George Fox swimming and football programs are both newer programs, in existence for fewer than 10 years. They will also be in the NCAA Division III Northwest Conference.
Lady Buffalo basketball player Jackie Zamora-Heath used her unmatched speed to cause a ruckus on the court, both offensively and defensively. Zamora-Heath signed her letter of intent to play at Lassen Community College in Susanville, California.
"This does a couple of things," Taylor said. "It puts a light on athletics and kids are going to be more apt to go out and participate in athletics, which we want kids to do here. We want a very large group of students in athletics. Studies have shown all the good it can do for you."
"The second piece is, it gives all the kids participating in sports an opportunity to believe in themselves," he said. "If Kaegan Prevett can overcome the things he has had to in his life and work his tail off and go play college football, it opens their eyes, while opening doors to believe in themselves. At the end of the day, if we can give them a glimmer of hope or some positive belief in themselves, we are doing something good."