Three commitments were made official Wednesday afternoon inside Pioneer Fieldhouse.
A trio of Stillwater High seniors who all held long commitments to universities signed National Letters of Intent to kick off the National Signing Day early period. They did so in front of friends and family as the first three SHS students to do so this year.
The athletes signing were Braedyn Sommer (University of Central Arkansas), McKenzie Vilade (Oklahoma Baptist University) and Lauren Phillips (Wichita State University).
A three-year starter for the Stillwater baseball team, Sommer had been committed to Central Arkansas for nearly three months before he could officially sign with the Bears.
“I’ve dreamed about it for a long time,” Sommer said. “I’m super glad and excited that the coaches believed in me and that it’s actually here.”
Central Arkansas started recruiting Sommer in the summer, he said. It instantly became the place where he wanted to continue his baseball career.
“Just the coaches and the community itself,” Sommer said. “Everyone was super welcoming. The coaches were super hands on, and you really don’t get that at another D1 school. The community and the campus itself was absolutely gorgeous, so I couldn’t pass that up.”
Sommer plans to study exercise science at UCA. He’s looking forward to the opportunity to return to Stillwater and play Oklahoma State in the upcoming years at the soon-to-be open O’Brate Stadium.
“I believe this year through maybe 2024 we have a series with OSU,” Sommer said. “I think OSU is going to Conway this year and then next year we’ll be at the new OSU stadium. I’m super excited for that opportunity.”
It was about a month after last year’s SHS volleyball run to the state championship match that Vilade announced her commitment to Oklahoma Baptist in Shawnee. She came back as one of two starters from that squad and played for a new coach this fall, but she made her dream come true Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s exciting and I’ve definitely been waiting since I verbally committed,” Vilade said. “It’s nice for it to be official. I can’t wait to be a member of the team at OBU and a part of the program.”
One of her main reasons for signing with OBU is coach Anna Howle. Vilade is likely to play setter for the Bison, but she said she is willing to play wherever she’s needed.
“Mainly the coach,” Vilade said. “She is such an incredible coach and I’ve seen her coach before. She is just someone I want to coach me for the next four years. She believes in the program and she believes in building, so I’m super excited to see how I can develop under her wings.”
At this time, she is undecided on a major.
One of two setters – along with Vilade – on the Lady Pioneers’ team, Phillips was also one of two SHS athletes to sign with an NCAA Div. 1 school, along with Sommer.
Phillips will be heading north into Kansas to play at Wichita State, ending her long commitment.
“It’s really exciting,” Phillips said. “It’s been a long nine years of playing volleyball, so to have it pay off and know I’m going to college for it is just great.”
Her choice came down to being closer to extended family and the WSU campus.
“I have family up there, so there was that tie,” Phillips said. “Also when I got on campus, it was an instant connection of this is where I’m supposed to be.”
Like Vilade, Phillips was also recruited to be a setter at the next level. She is planning on studying exercise science.