COPPERAS COVE — Phillip Baptiste rewrote Copperas Cove’s record book. Now, he is ready to make history in college.
The Bulldawgs standout, who became the program’s most prolific receiver by catching 113 passes for 1,556 yards and 17 touchdowns en route to being named an all-state first team selection as a senior, signed a letter of intent to play for Trinity Valley Community College on Wednesday morning in a ceremony at the Copperas Cove gymnasium.
For Baptiste, it was the culmination of a high-school career spent striving for excellence.
“Nothing is impossible,” he said. “Hard work pays off, and I knew if I put in the work, then it was going to pay off. Now, I’ve got to keep doing what I’ve been doing — keep working hard and always try to work harder than the person next to me.”
Baptiste was not alone, as two teammates and pair of players from the Lady Bulldawgs girls soccer team also made their commitments official Wednesday.
Defensive back J.D. Post signed with Texas Lutheran, and receiver Hunter McVeigh committed to Mary Hardin-Baylor, while Shelbie Letzer and Lauren Heck inked letters with Incarnate Word and Bacone College (Okla.), respectively.
While the recruiting process was admittedly easy for Baptiste, some of his classmates found it much more hectic.
“It has been pretty stressful but exciting at the same time,” said Post, who in addition to being the team’s top kickoff returner with a 29-yard average, recorded 55 total tackles and three interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns, as a senior. “At first, I was happy to see college coaches calling me, but eventually, it was college coach after college coach after college coach. So it is nice to have it over with.”
McVeigh echoed the sentiments, but has no doubt he made the right decision. “When I went on my visit, I walked in and all the coaches were alive and excited, and it looked like that is where they wanted to be,” he said. “I thought if they are that excited off the field, then on the field, it is going to be a great experience.”
McVeigh brings a versatile set of skills to the Crusaders after finishing the 2013 season as the Bulldawgs’ second-best receiver (53-748, 10 TDs), while playing tight end, carrying the ball, punting and returning kicks.
“Unselfishness, that is what Hunter was for us,” Bulldawgs offensive coordinator Tracy Welch said.
Much like the football team, the Lady Bulldawgs witnessed one of the most talented players in program history sign as Letzer, who announced her intentions in July, made the decision official.
A three-time all-district and all-area first team selection, Letzer currently ranks first all-time in school history in career assists (42) and second in career goals (48), while becoming the first Lady Bulldawgs soccer player to sign a Division I scholarship in nearly two decades.
“I am so excited,” Letzer said. “I’ve been waiting for this day since I was about 10 years old. To be able to actually sign the papers, it just felt amazing.”
While signing day signifies an opportunity to move on for many athletes, it was a chance for Heck to return home.
“I always wanted to go to college in Oklahoma because that is where my family lives,” she said. “So I got excited when I got a scholarship offer from the college that is right down the road from my family.”
Copperas Cove athletic director Jack Welch said he never tires of seeing his athletes extend their careers. But he said the true rewards of signing day have nothing to do with sports.
“This is all about helping people get an education,” he said. “We get caught up sometimes in playing the sport, but these are tools that they can use to get an education and get them further along in life.”