Five Waxahachie student-athletes signed national letters of intent Tuesday to continue their academic and playing careers at the collegiate level.
One of the four soccer athletes made a little history as soon as the pen hit the paper, too.
Xavier Jones, a 6-foot-1, 280-pound offensive lineman, was the lone Waxahachie football player to sign in front of friends and family inside the lecture hall on the high school campus.
Jones will attend Hardin-Simmons University in the fall.
In one way or another, Cameron Clark, Michael McKay, Ryan Hay and TJ Lacey all helped the Indians soccer team reach the postseason in each of the past four seasons, including a first-ever 6A berth this year.
“There are a lot of wins between these guys," Waxahachie head boys' soccer coach Seth Riley said. "We had a three-year starter in Michael McCay, and then TJ and Ryan having a couple of years under their belts. These guys have all had huge roles for us, especially the last few years. The successes that we have had over the past four years, they are a huge chunk of that.”
He added, "It’s also good for our young guys to see and to have something to aspire to.”
The Indians finished the season with a 12-7-4 record after bowing out of the 6A bi-district playoffs.
Clark, a midfielder, will join his football counterpart, Jones, at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene.
McKay and Lacey are both headed to the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton after stellar Waxahachie careers.
McKay was a three-year letterman for the Indians, while Lacey made quite the impact for the Tribe this season.
Lacey finished second on the team with 10 goals and 23 points (3 assists). He trailed only Ryan Hay in the goals (13) and points (27) department.
It was also Hay who made program history Tuesday.
The senior standout did not necessarily need to play for the Indians this season, or any season for that matter. His collegiate future was already set.
However, much in the same light as Texas A&M-bound Demani Richardson who didn't need to take the court for the Runnin' Indians, Hay took to pitch out of pride for the hometown program.
Hay returned to the Indians roster for his senior season after he spent his junior year in the development academy program for Solar Chelsea. Academy programs, which require a contract to be signed, bar a student-athlete from competing for his or her high school team. As a sophomore for the Indians, Hay scored two goals and provided six assists as an outside back for the Indians, who won their first district championship in program history that season.
Hay then appeared in 22 matches, starting 16, for Solar during the 2017-18 season. He has played in just six matches (five starts) since.
Hay initially had a verbal commitment with Colgate University, located in Hamilton, New York. He noted that —because of the lack of options at football-rich Texas universities — most of his offers spurred from academy soccer came from east coast programs.
Hay expressed that he is "very happy" to attend St. Joseph’s University, a Division I institution located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the fall.
And that DI part is the history that was made Tuesday — Hay is the first Waxahachie boys' soccer senior to ink an NLI with a Division I program.
Riley noted that, as a coach, it is always special to see student-athletes sign to play at the next level, but a Division I NLI is just a little sweeter.
"It is always a huge accomplishment. Now that he’s signed to go play DI, he’ll get to go do it way up there in Philadelphia in the ‘City of Brotherly Love,” said Riley with a smile as Hay walked up to join the conversation, “so we’ll see how much brotherly love he gets up there. I’m sure they are going to enjoy his ability on the field and it is exciting to see a player sign DI period, in any sport, just like Demani going to Texas A&M and Audrey (Nalls) going to TCU. It’s good for Waxahachie.”
Hay agreed, which is why he returned to the program for his senior season.
“It is definitely very special,” said Hay of becoming the first-ever Indians soccer player to sign a Division I letter of intent. He joins his sister, Sarah (Hay) Nugent, who starred as a goalkeeper for the University of South Alabama, as one of just a handful of Waxahachie soccer players to continue at the Division-I level.
“I’ve loved playing with each and every one of teammates that I’ve had throughout my years here," Hay continued. "I’ve enjoyed every bit of it. It was totally enjoyable and I loved every minute of it.”
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith