WCIA — The St. Thomas More volleyball team has its sights set on winning a state championship this weekend but National Signing Day offered the Sabers a chance to celebrate their three Division I athletes who officially signed their National Letter of Intent on Wednesday. Seniors Caroline Kerr (Tennessee), Colleen Hege (UIC) and Anna McClure (Ohio State) all signed together during a ceremony at the school before they face Freeport Aquin in the Class 1A state semifinals Friday morning at 9 a.m. at Redbird Arena in Normal.
“I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time,” Kerr said. “I think it’s super exciting and just to be able to share the moment with my two friends Anna and Colleen means everything.”
“Yeah honestly ever since I was little watching Big Ten volleyball growing up, it was just always my dream to be able to play at the next level,” McClure said. “It feels so good, I’m so grateful to everyone who has helped me along the way.”
“It feels amazing, it’s just like a weight off my shoulders,” Hege added. “You know I’ve always dreamed of playing Division I volleyball and just signing that paper really put into my perspective that my dream has been fulfilled.”
There are two future Loyola basketball players in the area who made their commitments official on the opening day of the signing period. Tuscola’s Jalen Quinn inked with the Missouri Valley team out of Chicago during an after school ceremony in the gym. The 6-foot-4, three-star guard is the first boys’ basketball player in Tuscola history to earn a Division I scholarship.
“It feels great, just knowing I was committed to the school I loved all along and finally just making it official,” Quinn said. “They showed me the most genuine love throughout the process, I created a really good relationship with Coach Valentine and they were in it for a long time, just the culture they’ve created with Coach Moser and now Coach Valentine, I really believe I can thrive in that program.”
Meanwhile just down the road in Mattoon, Green Wave senior basketball player Mallory Ramage also signed with the Ramblers, picking them ahead of other offers from Eastern Illinois, Indiana State, Wofford, Chattanooga and UNCW. Ramage has averaged 21 points and five rebounds per game in her three seasons on varsity, setting the school single season scoring record as a sophomore with more than 700 points.
“It is emotional for me because I’ve worked really hard to get where I’m at and I’m excited to meet a lot of new people,” Ramage said. “I really liked the environment and I really liked the girls on the team. I’ve wanted to play college basketball for a really long time so I’ve always been working for it to play DI basketball.”
At Maroa-Forsyth, Ethan Willoughby signed a National Letter of Intent to continue his baseball career at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. The four-year varsity starter mainly plays shortstop for the Trojans.