Signing Tigers

Belton’s Abigail Kendall (far left), Brey York (second from left), Savannah Henry and Trent Stafford all announced their college plans at a ceremony at the Belton Athletic Complex on Wednesday. Kendall will play tennis for Hardin-Simmons, York signed her NLI to play volleyball for Texas Southern, Henry is heading to Southern Illinois on a swimming scholarship and Stafford will play baseball for Temple College.

BELTON — Brey York had always dreamed of playing Division I college volleyball. On Wednesday the Belton senior made her dream a reality when she signed a National Letter of Intent to attend and play at Texas Southern.

“It feels really awesome and it’s kind of like a dream come true,” said York, who was a three-year varsity player for the Lady Tigers and was a first-team all-district setter her junior and senior seasons. “I always had that hope and goal but I never thought it would actually happen. So it feels really good. I’m really excited about my future. It’s awesome because I feel like I’ve been waiting for this day forever. I feel like all my hard work has paid off. It means a lot being able to get this opportunity.”

York was one of four Belton athletes who announced their college plans at a ceremony at the Belton Athletic Complex.

York said the team’s family atmosphere and the opportunity to live in Houston are what drew her to Texas Southern.

“When I went to visit, the team really made me feel welcome,” she said. “The coaches take care of their athletes. They’re a successful program, so I’m excited to join that and hopefully earn a starting spot. I really like Houston and the coaches are really awesome, so I’m excited about that.”

Savannah Henry, who set school records in the 200-meter individual medley and the 100 backstroke and was part of the school record-setting 200 medley and 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams, accepted a swimming scholarship to Southern Illinois.

“It means I get four more years of doing what I’m really passionate about doing and what I spend so much time doing,” Henry said of signing with the Salukis. “I have some family ties there but also it’s a great school with a great team that’s on the rise and working hard and it’s something I wanted to be a part of.”

Henry said she hopes she has set a precedent for other Belton swimmers.

“I hope that I showed all the middle-schoolers and all the underclassmen that with hard work and dedication and commitment, you can do anything,” she said. “You can swim Division I in college if you want to.”

Trent Stafford will stay close to home, choosing to play baseball for Temple College.

“It means a lot to me because I know my parents and my family can come watch me play instead of being way out there and hoping they can make a game every once in a while,” Stafford said. “They’ll be here for the majority of the games, so that’s exciting.”

Along with the opportunity to continue playing in front of his loved ones, Stafford was also excited about playing for TC coach Craig McMurtry.

“Coach McMurtry is a great pitching coach,” Stafford said. “I feel like he can give me all the coaching that I need to follow my dream and keep moving up the ladder. I think Temple College is just the right fit for me.”

While Stafford is eager to play for the Leopards next year, he still has some business to attend to during his senior season at Belton.

“It means a lot, but my business here is not done,” said Stafford, who has been a part of two district championship teams and is hoping for a third this season. “Our business as a team, as Belton Tigers, is not done yet. We still have the rest of the season to try and make something else happen and I think we will. I’ll think we’ll do great the rest of the season.”

After earning all-district honors all four of her years at Belton, Abigail Kendall will take her tennis skills to Division III Hardin-Simmons. Kendall is a two-time regional qualifier and was a first-team all-district selection this year.