GATESVILLE — Kyle Cooper knew he was hosting a National Signing Day ceremony, but it was also a demonstration.
Moments after seven Gatesville athletes secured their athletic futures in front of an auditorium full of friends, family members and fellow students, the Hornets head football coach and athletic director praised the group for their accomplishments.
Then, he reminded the younger athletes in attendance they were witnessing more than a shining moment — it was an example.
“I promise all these kids have put in the time and effort,” said Cooper, closing the ceremony. “This is something to strive for, because they all set their standards high.
“It’s about taking care of you business in the classroom, in the community and then, on the athletic field, and the opportunities will come.”
For three Hornets, including a pair of teammates, their path led to Mary Hardin-Baylor.
The on-court duo of Allaira Jones, who is the 2017 all-district most valuable player, and six-time school record holder Rebekah Nolte will continue their partnership at the collegiate level as part of the Lady Crusaders’ program.
Additionally, Derrick Bayer will join the Crusaders’ national powerhouse football program.
Three of Bayer’s teammates also made their decisions official, including quarterback Jett Truss.
The dual threat, who spent three years at the varsity level, will play for Western State Colorado, while tackle Austin Lee and linebacker Will Carroll signed with Trinity Valley Community College and South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, respectively.
“If anything can best describe these four guys and wrap them up into one package,” Cooper said, “it is that they are competitors.
“Guys like that are a joy to practice, because you never have to get them going.”
Ryan Stovall rounded out the Hornets’ group of signees, committing to play baseball for Ecclesia College (AR).
For Gatesville head coach David Truss, there was no doubt Stovall would be in this position.
“To be successful in anything you do,” Truss said, “there has to be passion.
“There was never any question about his favorite sport or what he was passionate about, and that’s why he is successful.”