Spring ISD’s Dekaney High School hosted a special spring celebration this month for a group of six student athletes who recently signed letters of intent to attend their schools of choice and participate in collegiate athletics.
Held inside of the school’s gymnasium in front of a small audience of family members, supporters and coaches, the ceremony now brings the campus’ senior athletes who committed to collegiate athletic programs to 15, after nine students signed letters in February.
Among the group of six new commits were three football players, a basketball player, and – for the first time in Dekaney history – two softball players.
“Having two of my girls signing today is a big deal,” said Dekaney softball coach Charlene Bradley on her students Jennifer and Melissa Gress. “I hope this sets the tone for my program and it encourages more girls to play softball at Dekaney.”
Both sisters will be playing softball at Kilgore College in the fall. Jennifer explained that going to the same college wasn’t their intention, but they couldn’t refuse the offer when it was given to them. “I’m looking forward to bettering myself, not only academically, but as an athlete,” she said. “There are going to be a multitude of opportunities for us and we’re ready for them.”
Coach Bradley says the Gress sisters not only excelled on the softball field, but also in the classroom. “I’m a coach that believes in academics,” she said. “I teach all of my girls that if you can’t excel in the classroom, there’s no way you can excel on the field.”
Parents, grandparents, siblings and coaches were also filled with emotions as they expressed how proud they were of their students. “It’s not easy being a student athlete,” said Dekaney’s head football coach, Anthony Williams. “Each one of these athletes has done everything that has been asked of them and I couldn’t be prouder.”
Dekaney graduate and former football player Johnny Rivas came out to support his younger brother Gabriel Rivas, who signed to play football at Houston Baptist University in the fall. Johnny said seeing his brother accomplish their shared dream is an outstanding feeling.
“It’s a feeling that I’ll never forget,” said Rivas. “The impact that the Dekaney coaches had with me was also shared with him and it’s a tremendous honor,” he said. “From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank the coaches because I know firsthand that they pour their heart and soul into everything that they do.”
Senior Aaliyah Hill, who will be playing basketball at Champions College in the fall, emphasized that none of it would have been possible without her support system at Dekaney. “I just want to thank everyone who helped me get to where I am,” she said.
- Jontrell Casimere, football scholarship at Kentucky Wesleyan College
- Jennifer Gress, softball scholarship at Kilgore College
- Melissa Gress, softball scholarship at Kilgore College
- Aaliyah Hill, basketball scholarship at Champions College
- Gabriel Rivas, football scholarship at Houston Baptist University
- Karman Turner, football scholarship at Howard Payne University