For every kid that grows up playing sports, he or she likely has a dream of playing in college.
In the auditorium at Creek Wood High School on Thursday, four Red Hawk seniors turned those dreams into reality.
Zach Bone, Stone Collins, Mitch Duke and Sam Batey all signed to continue their athletic careers at the next level.
Amid the flashing lights, all four grinned while seated behind a navy blue table. Each player’s jersey- cherry red with white numerals for football, white with “Red Hawks” emblazoned for baseball- was spread out in front of his National Letter of Intent.
Bone, a Red Hawk offensive lineman, inked his future with Morehead (Ky.) State for football, while Collins will shift positions on the defense at Wilmington College in Ohio.
Duke and Batey, meanwhile, will remain teammates, as both are headed for the baseball diamonds of Memphis at Southwest Community College.
The original signings were set to take place last week, but due to illness-induced school closings, the ceremony was moved to this week.
Despite the time shift, family members, friends, students and teammates packed the front of Creek Wood’s auditorium, inching closer and sprinting toward the stage when summoned for a picture.
“I think it’s a testament to the type of men that they are,” said Red Hawks football coach Houston Thiel. “Easy to like those four guys, for sure.”
No matter the delay, Bone, Collins, Duke and Batey each sighed and smiled after finally putting pen to paper.
“It’s a really big relief,” Bone said. “You think about it constantly for months and months on end, and just to know where you want to go and what you want to do, it’s a big relief.”
“It’s very exciting,” added Collins. “All the hard work you put in the last four years, it’s finally paying off.”
When discussing Morehead State, Bone stated that the Eagles’ coaches have told him he’ll likely play “guard/tackle- preferably tackle.”
“That way, I’m still comfortable where I’m at,” he said.
For Collins, a position change could be in the near future, as he primarily worked on the Red Hawks’ defensive line in high school.
“I think they’re going to kind of move me around at defensive end-hybrid-linebacker, but I’m just going to go up there and see what I can do,” Collins said.
For Duke and Batey, they will remain teammates, but they’ll also be roommates in Memphis.
“It’ll be fun,” Duke said. “We’ve been playing together since t-ball, so it’ll be fun getting to the next level together, too.”
Added Batey: “I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to sign somewhere. Just super happy I’m able to. (Southwest) seemed like a good home to go to.”
When asked how far he’d like to take the game of baseball, Duke didn’t mince words:
“As far as I can,” he said. “Just keep going.”
No matter the final stop for each player, though, Thiel reiterated his pride for each of the four athletes that made their commitments official.
“Certainly proud of all four of these guys,” he said. “I’ve seen all four of them grow up. Anytime one of our students inks a letter of intent to go play somewhere else, it’s a big deal for us. We’re super proud of these guys and think they all represent Creek Wood High School very well.
“They’re going to be very successful in their future.”