Four Republic athletes will take their skills to the next level after committing to universities during a signing ceremony last week. Jonathan O’Connell will wrestle at Drury, Jade Kirby will play basketball at Evangel, and Megan Weis and Katie Anderson will join the softball team at Williams Baptist University.
Katie Anderson settled on Williams Baptist after a visit to the campus in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas. “I actually personally knew the coach, then I went down there for a camp and I toured the campus a couple times, and it felt like home,” she said.
The small size of the school was a draw for Anderson, also. “I know the professors will have … one-on-one time, and it felt right when I was there walking the campus.”
She’s excited to be joined by Weis. “I can actually related to someone down there and … I think it will help me transition better,” she said.
About the chance to play at the college level, she said “I’m looking forward to more competition and I obviously want to get better. I want to exceed how I did in high school, so I think it will be exciting.”
Jade Kirby initially thought she might like to go away to college instead of following in her parents’ footsteps by attending Evangel University.
“But my dad was like, ‘Let’s just schedule some visits and see.’ My goal was a Christian University, so I was like, ‘Okay, let’s try it out because I’ve looked at other places.’ And when I went there, I absolutely fell in love with it. It surprised me how much I fell in love with it.”
A big part of that connection was to the coaches and players. “The coaches and all the girls are so sweet and so nice,” she said, “if makes me feel really good because I know that I’ll be going to a good place where I can count on people.”
Kirby said she’s looking forward to college basketball because it will provide an opportunity to “push myself even harder… being able to further my skills and work harder throughout the next four years. I think it’s going to be really fun.”
Jonathan O’Connell is excited to extend his wrestling career at Drury University, but as much as that, he’s excited about what the school offers him off the mat.
“They’re a great school really great professors. They’re not there for the paycheck; they’re there because they love the subject that they’re teaching,” he said.
“I’ve always wanted to wrestle at the college level, and it works out perfect,” he continued. “It pays for … a really good college. And I’ve met the wrestlers. They’re really cool and they had the same goal in mind.”
For Megan Weis, seeing the interaction between coaches and team at Williams Baptist University was enough to sell her. “I’ve really gotten to know the coach a lot. She’s so fun and outgoing,” Weis said. “So when I went and visited and saw the whole team – how they interacted, and their goofiness, but seriousness at the same time – I just knew it was right because it’s such a great atmosphere.”
Weis will join teammate Anderson in Walnut Ridge and said she expects “it’s going to be a fun time.”
She’s also looking forward to stepping up to play college softball next year: “Just seeing how different it is. High school ball was cool…but it will be great to see a bunch of players that you haven’t seen before and see new teams.”