It was all smiles and a few tears in the Conifer High School gymnasium on Feb. 7 as seven athletes symbolically signed their National Letters of Intent to continue their sports careers at the college level.
From lacrosse to softball and track to women’s ice hockey, the athletes were lauded for their tenacity and drive to excel in their sports at CHS, and friends, family and coaches wished them well during the signing ceremony.
“This is one of my favorite days,” Athletic Director Eric Kragel told the athletes, each wearing a shirt from their new colleges while sitting at tables sporting balloons of the new team colors and other college swag. “You have put in hours of work, not just on the athletic field but in the classroom as well. You will take those skills to college, and we will get to watch you have such success.”
Sarah Morisset, Ice hockey, Lawrence University, Wisconsin
After Sarah’s dad, Jeff, talked about her career in ice hockey, starting when she was 6, Sarah called her journey a long one. She thanked her coaches who brought her to the next level.
She plans to major in athletic training/physical therapy or sports management at Lawrence University.
“I’m excited for the next four years and what they bring me,” she said.
Aiden Elliott, Lacrosse, Benedictine University, Illinois
Conifer lacrosse coach Tom Grover said Elliott won the Hard Hat Award from the team for being a great team player and hard-working, calling him a leader on and off the field with an amazing lacrosse IQ.
Elliott, who plans to major in business at Benedictine University, said he has been playing lacrosse since he was in first grade, and it was his first sports love. He thanked his parents for their support.
Isaac vanWestrienen, Track, Midland University, Nebraska
Conifer track coach Brian Stotts called Isaac one of the most successful track athletes in CHS history.
“To be successful, we need kids who set the bar higher,” Stotts said, calling vanWestrienen someone who does that.
VanWestrienen thanked Stotts and his teammates for pushing him to achieve more and for his parents who got him hooked on running in the first place.
Story Talbert, Baseball, Hastings College, Nebraska
Conifer baseball coach Spencer Hamilton called Talbert rare because of his work ethic, maturity and constant smile.
Talbert kept his comments simple, saying to those who thought he was too small to play college baseball: “Yet here I am.”
Anastasia Satchell, Soccer, Pfeiffer University, North Carolina
Mom Dawn Satchell said Anastasia began playing soccer competitively in third grade, and she worked hard to excel in the sport.
“She’s so tenacious and does her best every time she’s out there,” Dawn said. “I’m excited for the next four years for her.”
Anastasia said she first kicked a soccer ball at age 3, she is happy to continue playing in college.
Cheyenne Prieto, Softball, Metro State University of Denver
Conifer softball coach Carrie Oletski said she believe Prieto joined the Conifer team because Oletski could push her to be a better player.
Prieto thanked her friends and family for their support, noting they could come to Denver to watch her play.
Jack Bedortha, Lacrosse, Adams State University, Alamosa
Lacrosse coach Tom Grover said Bedortha was nicknamed “Jack Sparrow” from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie series because before a game, the players were putting on eye black, and someone put a moustache and sideburns on Bedortha. Then in that game, he scored the game-winning goal.
“Somehow Sparrow is always in the right spot,” Grover said.
Bedortha thanked Grover for pushing him to be better, his mom for being his biggest fan and his dad who coached him to get him where he is today.