It was a bittersweet moment for Sarah Stolley.
Since taking over the program in 2015, Ellison’s head volleyball coach witnessed the team thrive under standouts Semira Fields, Jakarta Hope and sister Jaraysia Hope.
Wednesday afternoon, however, Stolley said goodbye to the trio.
During a National Signing Day ceremony inside the Ellison High School gymnasium, the three players made their collegiate commitments official with Fields signing with Grambling University, while the Hope twins inked letter of intent to Prairie View A&M.
Although Stolley is excited for the players’ respective futures, she cannot mask the disappointment of knowing they are leaving.
“These are some of the most dynamic volleyball players to ever walk the halls at Ellison,” Stolley said, “and they were a huge part of our historic 30-win season this year.
“I can’t think of a better way for these girls to celebrate than to sign together, even if I’m having a hard time getting through it.”
Along with helping the Lady Eagles reach a new plateau for single-season victories and guiding the team into the playoffs, the Ellison signees had plenty of individual success as seniors.
Jaraysia Hope was named all-district defensive player of the year, Jakarta Hope was named all-district co-setter of the year, and Fields was placed on the all-district first team.
Several other Ellison coaches were in similar positions as a total of eight players signed.
Three Eagles football players also made their commitments as outside linebacker Angel Clemente signed with Southern Nazarene University, running back/receiver Tye Hill signed with Mary Hardin-Baylor, and cornerback/safety Rian McKinley signed with Angelo State. Hill and McKinley were each all-district first team members.
Additionally, in cross country, Isabella Van Meter inked a letter to run for Georgia Military College, while Keegan Stewart signed to play soccer at Texas Lutheran.
Regardless of where the athletes are heading, Ellison head football coach and athletic coordinator Todd Wright knows each has earned the opportunity.
“Getting recruited is hard,” he said. “It’s not just about how well they play on one night; it’s about doing it for years.
“To get to this point, they have to have done a pretty good job for their entire life, because recruiters are extremely thorough.”