15 sign from Longview High
Feb. 7, 2018 at 9:11 p.m.
National Signing Day is one of celebration, a culmination of the hard work it takes to continue any student-athlete's playing career.
For 15 Longview High School student-athletes, Wednesday was a day of laughs, photographs and congratulations.
"It's a very big day, I'm excited and ready for the future," Brooke Goynes, who signed with Kilgore College softball, said. "It's kind of bittersweet too.
"I'm going to miss all of them but I'm proud of them."
Now, the hard work continues.
"You've just got to keep grinding every day," JC Blakemore, who will continue his football career at Howard Payne University, said. "It's a constant, non-stop grind.
"If you really want it, it's out there."
Five sports were represented in the Longview High School Turf Room for Wednesday's ceremony.
"It's a big day, it always is," Longview athletic director John King said. "This is the largest number we've had in a single signing in a while.
"Five different sports are represented by tremendous student athletes, great young men and women with high character that were also great teammates."
Blakemore was one of eight Lobo football players heading to the next level, joining Chris Kessler (Texas State), A'Darius Carter (Southeastern Oklahoma University), Jaylin Brown (Kilgore College), Kendle Johnson (Howard Payne University), D'Marjai Dearion (East Texas Baptist University) as well as Davotrick and Javotrick Dotrey, the identical twin defensive back duo that will join Southwestern Oklahoma State University.
"I think we'll have a few more sign before it's all over with too," King said. "They all chose different routes but they're all just outstanding young men that were great teammates, great leaders and I'm not surprised that colleges and universities came after them and recruited them.
"I look forward to great things out of all of them."
Kessler, who earned a Division I scholarship as a kicker, a not-so-easy task, was quick to credit those around him.
"The football guys, those are my brothers," Kessler said. "Those are the guys that put me in this position and all of the credit goes to them.
"It's humbling for me to see all of the hard work that we've all put in to be here."
While their futures are locked in, the rest of Wednesday's contingent still have work to do.
Jason Bush, who signed with Tyler Junior College, is leading the Lobo basketball team in a tight playoff race.
Following the ceremony, Yazmin Rodriguez (Lyon College), Celeste Nunez (Northeast Texas CC) and Carrie Gilliland (UT Tyler) were gearing up to hit the soccer field for the Lady Lobos.
In the coming days, Goynes and Madalyn Alexander (University of Memphis) will hit the field for the Lady Lobo softball team, who enter the season after reaching the postseason a year ago.
"It's going to be a work in progress but we're ready," Goynes said. "We've got to keep working."
Likewise, Jacob Fidler (Murray State College) will lead the charge on the diamond for the Lobos.
No matter the destination, the work will continue.
"It's not over after today," King said. "They're freshman all over again and they're going to have to work to earn their stripes all over again.
"They're going to have to be ready to step on a campus, work and earn the respect of their coaches and teammates.
"We're proud and confident that it will happen."
(Follow Hayden Henry on Twitter: @hayden_h)