PICTURED ABOVE: Sporting their respective future college’s sweatshirts, six of the eight Hockaday athletes planning on signing their National Letter of Intent on Feb. 26 pose in Metzger Plaza. The pictured athletes include (from left to right): Adoette Vaughn, University of Arkansas, Cross Country; Parker Hawk, Washington and Lee University, Cross Country; Felicity Diamond, Columbia University, Crew; Swiler Boyd, Acadia University, Soccer; Reid Cohen, Pitzer College, Lacrosse; Jojo Gum, Yale University, Lacrosse. Not pictured are Aryianna Easter, Southwestern University, Lacrosse and Sophie Rubarts, Hendrix College, Field Hockey.
They’ve put in the hours, they’ve contacted the coaches, they’ve met with the team, but it is with one stroke of a pen that they are destined to spend the next four years competing at a collegiate level.
National Signing Day on Feb. 6, 2019 marks the start of the signing period student-athletes have to sign their National Letter of Intent (NLI), which makes their athletic commitment to their chosen university official.
Senior Swiler Boyd is signing as a soccer goalkeeper to Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada. Boyd recognizes this day as a milestone for all student athletes alike.
“I feel like signing day will really launch me and my fellow athletes into the college athletic world, and it will make it feel as if it is really official,” Boyd said.
Senior Felicity Diamond, who is committing to Columbia University for rowing, feels that for many athletes, Signing Day also represents the culmination of all of the effort they put into their sport.
“Signing Day is really important to me because it solidifies everything I have worked towards and everything I will continue to work towards in the future with regards to rowing,” Diamond stated.
The NLI is not directly affiliated with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), so not every school uses the NLI to legitimize the athlete’s commitment to the university. Instead, the NLI was made by the Collegiate Commissioners Association in order to protect both the student and the college from the possibility of either party backing out.
Although many schools host signing day on the National Signing Day, Hockaday is hosting their signing day on Feb. 26.
“The reason we aren’t planning to do it on the National Signing Day was because we were worried not all of the athletes would be committed to a college by that day. We tried to find a date which everybody would know where they were signing so it would be a big, school-wide event,” Athletic Board Chair Meredith Jones said.
Athletic Director Deb Surgi explained that when deciding on a date to host Signing Day, they take into account the NCAA signing periods which range from Feb. 6 to Aug. 1 and Hockaday’s school and athletic schedules. Surgi collaborated with the Athletic Administration, the College Counseling team and the Athletic Board to plan the signing day planning team decided that the ceremony is to be hosted in the Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Theater in attempt to make it a more school-wide, inclusive event. They also plan to provide university flags and pennants for each girl signing.
“In years past, each girl has been in charge of bringing their college pennant and flags. How- ever, Coach Surgi is trying to make the ceremony all the more official and uniform by having each girl represent their college in the same manner,” Jones said.
The team also plans for there to be a cake,a photographer and a step-and-repeat banner—a publicity backdrop that is printed with repeating emblems (Hockaday is using the “split H” as its emblem) used for photographs—for the athletes.
“While I was not here in the past years to actually comment on the differences between this year and past years, I suspect that athletics is taking a larger role in the planning and orchestration of the event so as to alleviate any responsibility to families,” Surgi said.
According to Surgi, the signing ceremony will include time for Surgi herself, Head of School Dr. Karen Warren Coleman, both school and club coaches and the girls who are signing to speak. A large reception for friends and family will then follow the ceremony.
“I think it’s really great that my club coach, who has been with me since almost the beginning of my soccer career, has the chance to celebrate this achievement with me,” Boyd said.
Similarly, Bishop Lynch—another private school in Dallas—also has coaches speak about the students signing. However, as senior Lucy McGarry from Bishop Lynch—who is signing for volleyball to Susquehanna University—stated, instead of having one signing day, they have three to four throughout the year.
“Each signing day has about six athletes, a little more or a little less depending on which date it is. The signing ceremonies happen before school with cake and balloons, and each athlete has his or her friends make posters for them,” McGarry said.
Hockaday also differs with the Episcopal School of Dallas with regards to how they proceed with Signing Day dates. Senior Bryce Miltenberger is signing for rowing at Hobart and William Smith College and explained that ESD has multiple Signing Days.
“Our school just has a discrete Signing Day on specific dates throughout the year, then at the end of the year there is a signing ceremony to honor all of the athletes all together,” Miltenberger said.
Despite the slight differences between each school, younger onlookers look forward to Signing Day and look up to the girls signing.
“Since sophomore year, I have been going to signing days for my teammates. It has always been something I have looked forward to, and it gave me a goal to get to, especially when I was a sophomore, as well as opening my eyes to how cool the signing process is,” Diamond said.
Surgi hopes this year’s Signing Day will inspire underclassmen similarly to how Diamond was inspired by her teammates to pursue playing at a collegiate level.
“Coach Surgi is trying to make the ceremony a much more public event to show that Hockaday students can go play athletics at a collegiate level. I think this is important because often times Hockaday students don’t realize that they have the opportunity to play in college, especially because they have all the academic pressure placed on them,” Jones said.
Overall, the signing ceremony gives special recognition to Hockaday athletics and the athletes who have dedicated extra time to their sports.
“I feel as if Signing Day really commemorates these girls for all of the work they have done both academically and athletically, because the only other time these athletes do get recognized is at the athletic banquet at the end of the year, and those are just other athletes applauding them for their hard work, not the entire school,” Jones stated.
Story by Ashlye Dullye, Business Manager
Photo by Kate Woodhouse