By Monty Campbell
Killeen Daily Herald
COPPERAS COVE – The Copperas Cove athletic program continues to pump out athletes at an astounding, and just recently, an historic rate as seven Lady Dawgs from five different sports committed to universities and colleges around the state.
Volleyball star Chani Wilson and tennis phenoms Amber Long and Jenna Pergande set a precedent for the female athletes that follow in their footsteps as they were the first in their respective sports to go on to play sports in college.
Stephanie Pinkney and Lauren Flood (basketball), Tiffanie Benoit (soccer) and Samaura Jacquot (track) comprised the other Lady Dawgs to sign letters of intent to play sports at the next level.
"We are all proud of these young ladies in what they have accomplished and their teams' success," Copperas Cove athletic director Jack Welch said as he praised each of the Lady Dawgs and reminded each of them to not forget where they came from. "You should all be proud and remember that you are not only representing you and your family but also representing Copperas Cove."
Pinkney inked her name to a letter of intent from Lon Morris College in Jacksonville. She joins a young Rosalyn Floyd Lady Bearcat squad that finished last year with a 15-17 record and lost only three players.
Despite Lon Morris returning several players, Pinkney feels that she made the right decision in choosing the Lady Bearcats.
"I choose Lon Morris because I heard that they had a good basketball program," Pinkney said. "Also, many of their top players move on to great universities."
Pinkney joined fellow Lady Dawg Lauren Flood, who signed to play basketball for the University of Dallas Crusaders on May 5.
Wilson led the Lady Dawgs to one of their finer finishes in recent history this past season as she was the captain of their squad that finished the season with 14 wins.
She parlayed that success into getting an offer to play for one of the best junior college volleyball teams in the nation, Vernon College in North Texas.
"Being the first volleyball player to sign to play in college means a lot to me because it shows other players that you can play beyond high school," Wilson explained, as she continued to speak on why she chose Vernon College. "They (VC) have gone to nationals twice before and have an excellent opportunity at going back to nationals."
Benoit became the second athlete in the family to sign a letter of intent in as many years, older sister Elyssa signed to play softball at Lon Morris last year. That was one of the determining factors in deciding that she should attend Navarro Junior College.
"While I was at Lon Morris visiting my sister, I was juggling a ball and was approached by their (Lon Morris) coach," Benoit said. "We started talking and I asked who their biggest rival was and she said that is was Navarro, so I decided to go there."
Long and Pergande were often recognized for their stellar play on the tennis court together as the No. 1 girls doubles team for Cove but now they will be forever linked as the first girls to ever sign with a university from the tennis program. Both netters signed to continue playing their career close to home at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton.
While the two are uncertain whether or not the pair will ever play together in college, they both decided on the university because it was close to home and the tennis program was one of the stronger programs in NCAA Division III tennis.
Both players should not have any problem trying to keep themselves busy when they are not on the courts as Pergande is studying Nursing and plans on being a Pre-med major while Long is majoring in Biology with a minor in Chemistry on her way to becoming an optometrist.
Jacquot, who played several sports at Cove, committed to Texas Lutheran University in Seguin. She will compete in the long and the triple jump, the latter of which she finished in eighth place at the UIL Region II Track and Field Meet.
The future registered nurse chose to attend the Division III school because it was close to family in the Houston area and they were willing to help her reach her goals both athletically and academically.
The list of Lady Dawg signees is expected to grow by at least one more athlete as 5A Texas State High Jump Champion Valerie Hancock chooses one of the many schools that are offering her scholarships.
Contact Monty Campbell at email@example.com