Christmas came early for ten student athletes at the Jewell Athletic and Wellness Center in the Hall of Fame room on the campus of BGA Wednesday morning.
Cornerback Briston Bennett signed with the Charlotte 49ers and will be playing under head coach Will Healy, formerly of Austin Peay.
“The culture and city is beautiful and has everything that I need,” said Bennett. “Playing college football is a blessing and a really big deal. I am blessed to play the game that I love.”
Piper Dambach will continue her softball career at Leigh University under the head coaching of Fran Troyan.
“It means a lot to play (college softball),” said Dambach. “It is such a wonderful experience. I love the team and coaches.”
Garnett Hollis Jr will take his defensive back skills to Big 10 country to play for the Northwestern Wildcats under the head coaching of Pat Fitzgerald.
“It was a multitude of things that solid me on Northwestern, but one of the biggest things is that they are in the Big 10 conference,” said Hollis Jr. “The school is amazing, and I feel like I can go to the next level in my athletics and academics. It has always been a dream for me to play (power 5) football, so the fact that it is finally coming true is one of my biggest accomplishments.”
Aidan McLay will continue his baseball career at Rhodes College under the head coaching of Jeff Cleanthes.
“This is a dream come true for me,” said McLay. “I worked really hard and could not have done it without all the coaches that helped me along the way. My mom went here, and I had been visiting Rhodes since I was three years old. I fell in love with the place immediately.”
Mitch Petzelt will continue his baseball career under the head coaching of Jeff Sziksai at Lincoln Memorial University.
Quarterback Nick Semptimphelter will continue his football career at Bucknell University.
Semptimphelter leaves as the passing yards and passing touchdowns record holder for BGA.
“I had a really good relationship with the coaching staff, and Coach Cecchini played football with my dad,” said Semptimphelter. “I went up there on three visits and had a great time. I am happy to call that place home for the next few years.”
Scout Speer will continue her soccer career at Columbia State University under the head coaching of Colton Bryant.
“It is a big moment in my life,” said Speer. “It is a big step that I am taking, signing with my hometown. I have been playing soccer since I was eight years old, and it has been a part of my life forever.”
Antonio Stevens will continue his football career at Purdue University under the head coaching of Jeff Brohm and will now be conference rivals with Hollis Jr.
“The culture and atmosphere up at Purdue is something special,” said Stevens. “After a couple of visits, I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of. It is a dream come true to play football. Ever since I was five, I have always dreamed of playing at the highest level of collegiate sports.
"I am just thankful to do it at Purdue University. I am excited to compete against Garnett for the next three or four years. I wanted to play with him but, it did not work out. I am happy he found the right place for him.”
Duke Waldrop will play golf at Berry College.
“I am looking forward to the opportunity to be able to continue my golf career,” said Waldrop. “I had four concussions by the age of 15 playing football and basketball, so doctors did not want me to continue playing contact sports. I picked up golf and have been playing ever since.”
Jordan Warzynski will continue her softball career at Eastern Illinois University after making a comeback from injury in high school.
“It means a lot because I worked really hard,” said Warzynski. “After a month of being on crutches, I got up and went to pitching lessons and worked as hard as I could to get back. It means a lot to go to college and play the sport that I love.”