Girls just wanna have fun: Five Lady Wolves receive scholarships
Most participants in Wednesday's Signing Day ceremony at Plano West had already completed or not yet begun their senior season.
Devri Owens, however, has just started her final varsity season.
Perhaps that's why the entire girls basketball team was in attendance to cheer on Owens as she signed with Utah.
"This team is so awesome," Owens said. "Everyone is so supportive of each other and it's great to have them here today; they're like my second family."
Owens, who was named District 8-5A Co-MVP last season and has helped West to a fast start and top 10 ranking this season, had been interested in Providence, SMU, Oklahoma State and Colorado, but Utah stood out thanks to a conversation Owens had with Utes head coach Anthony Levrets.
"Coach saw me play over the summer and we got a chance to talk on the phone," Owens said. "It was a long, really entertaining conversation and I could just tell he was a genuine person."
A visit to the Utah campus essentially sealed the deal.
"It is so beautiful," Owens said. "The entire campus is surrounded by mountains; it's amazing."
Owens feels she can improve aspects of her game that go beyond her outside shot to make an impact at the collegiate level, but she is interested in making those improvements sooner rather than later as the guard still has big plans for this season.
"We want to win state," Owens said, "and I think we can do it."
Owens was the lone West basketball representative to sign Wednesday, but the remainder of the girls in attendance formed the biggest single sport contingent as four inked volleyball scholarships. Add one more if including Prestonwood Christian Academy senior Katie Staiger (Baylor), who was in attendance.
"We've all known each other since we were 10," said Brooke Coleman, "so this is a big day for us."
"This is the day where everything pays off," added Abigail Curry.
But while Coleman (Ohio), Curry (North Carolina), Shane Peters (TCU) and Katie Stebbins (Colgate) have known each other and played together for many years, they took different paths to Wednesday's ceremony.
Peters went to a camp at TCU after eighth grade at the insistence of her mom.
That was the right decision as TCU offered Peters a scholarship as a freshman and gave her a year to think about it. While Peters considered LSU, Florida, Colorado and UNLV, the year didn't change her first choice as she committed to TCU as a sophomore.
"The year was good to give me time to think about everything," she said. "But at the end, I just liked the TCU coaches and campus so much."
Coleman and Curry's paths were more complicated.
Coleman wanted to go to Georgetown, but her SAT scores at the time weren't enough to gain her a scholarship. Instead of being disappointed, Georgetown head coach Arlisa Williams passed Coleman's tape and information to Ohio. That program came away impressed and Coleman was too as she chose Ohio over Arkansas and Miami (Ohio).
"It's a great atmosphere up there," Coleman said, "such a cool town."
Fellow setter Curry had her heart set on North Carolina since before her sophomore season.
"They were my No. 1 for a really long time," she said.
But Curry contacted the Tar Heels after her sophomore season and they didn't need a setter.
"I was really bummed about that," she said.
Curry tried to move on, taking an interest in schools like TCU, Utah State and Dartmouth, but couldn't get past North Carolina. She eventually placed another call to the school and found the Tar Heels had some roster changes that necessitated a setter. Curry, who plans on majoring in bio-medical engineering, was happy to oblige and will wear No. 17, which was previously sported by North Carolina assistant Eve Rackham.
The only volleyball player not available for a conversation Wednesday was Stebbins, who had to get back to class. That stands to reason considering what her teammates said about her.
"Katie is very focused on academics," Curry said.
"Yeah, she visited like 20 different schools and went to the volleyball camps too," Peters added, "so it was a crazy summer for her."
Stebbins originally sought out an Ivy League school, but also wanted a chance at an athletic scholarship (why Ivy schools don't award) so she found a happy medium in Colgate. The Raiders may have sealed the deal by sending Stebbins, who wants to be a veterinarian, an email with a picture of dog that read, "My puppy wants you to come to Colgate."
"Whenever I think of Katie's school, I still think of toothpaste," Peters said.
That was one of several playful comments the girls made during the ceremony with Peters even mock-chastising Curry for choosing North Carolina over TCU.
"I really thought we were going to the same school," she said, "and then she messed it up."
"Yeah, that would've been awesome because this has been my life for the past 10 years," Curry responded before giving Peters a hug.
That sense of emotion was a tone for the day.
"It's going to be weird being apart from these girls," Coleman said, "and getting out of my comfort zone."
"We still have the rest of our senior year, so this isn't the end just yet," Peters added. "But that day we all have to say goodbye ... it's going to be so sad."