• July 31, 2014

Lampasas athletes head to Okla., UMHB

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Posted: Thursday, February 6, 2014 12:00 am

LAMPASAS — Signing their letters of intent was special, but doing so together made it memorable.

A trio of Lampasas athletes took part in the annual National Signing Day festivities Wednesday afternoon, securing their athletic futures during a joint ceremony in the school’s lecture hall.

Steven Jazdyk committed to Oklahoma as a decathlete, while football players Gary Spencer and Bobby Joe Nielsen signed to play at Texas A&M-Commerce and Mary Hardin-Baylor, respectively.

Although each had individual reasons to be excited, their collective bond made sharing the moment an unforgettable experience for Nielsen.

“These friendships that we’ve made through high school football will last through college and beyond,” the long snapper said. “These are the people that I’ll call on the day of my wedding. We’ve built friendships through things that we love together, such as football. It is definitely a unification process, and I think the two guys I’m here with today, they are some of the best friends I’ll make throughout my life.”

Jazdyk, who also played football with the Badgers, landing on the 8-3A all-district first team as a senior, agreed.

“It was enjoyable,” he said. “Just to know that they are going to chase their dream at the collegiate level of athletics is great.”

While their connections are strong, all three know it is time to forge their own paths.

For Spencer, direct honesty caused him to head northeast.

“I visited a lot of places and they weren’t straight up,” he said. “They would beat around the bush, but when I went to visit Texas A&M-Commerce, they were spot on and told it like it is. They really won me over.”

One of only two players in the district to top 1,000 rushing yards last season, Spencer’s senior season ended prematurely when a leg injury sidelined him for the Badgers’ final four games. In the months since, however, he made a full recovery and intends to pick up where he left off.

“I’m going to try and make a name for myself at the next level,” Spencer said.

Jazdyk has equally high expectations for himself after placing fifth in the pole vault at last year’s UIL State Track and Field Championships and helping the Badgers earn their first track and field district championship in 22 years as a junior.

“I’ve looked at the scores in the Big 12 Championships, and my goal in my freshman year of college is to be an all-American,” he said. “I have so much I can improve on, and I’m excited to see what happens.”

Nielsen, who began long snapping as a dare, received other offers, but it was clear UMHB was where he belonged.

“I stepped onto Division I campuses, I stepped on at SMU, and it didn’t feel like home,” he said. “But when I stepped into the Crusader Stadium and onto the UMHB campus, it just felt right. It was like I could spend four years there without even playing football.”

Regardless of where they are going, Lampasas athletic director and head football coach Brian Emerson’s message was the same.

“Be dedicated, be disciplined, be as committed as you have in the past and you are going to be OK,” he told the group. “Fight through the homesickness and the tough times, fight through the studying and everything else, and always know that not only do you have family in Lampasas, you have family at this school.”

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