By Tamas Mondovics

Student-athletes throughout Hillsborough County joined thousands of high school seniors last month as they celebrated their commitment of taking their academic and athletic talents to the next level.

Local high schools taking part in the annual National Letter of Intent signing day included Durant and Bloomingdale featuring athletics such as baseball and softball.

Durant High School was pleased to celebrate the accomplishments of two of its student-athletes. Cougars baseball catcher Jake Sullivan, signed his National Letter of Intent to play baseball at Division 1 Dallas Baptist University, and Madison Farrell who has committed to take her skills to play softball at Florida Atlantic University (FAU).

“I am very relieved and excited on finally signing,” Farrell said. “It finally hit me that I am going to college and going to be moving on to the next part of my life.”

Farrell said she chose FAU not only because the team and coaches treated her like family, but also because the campus is beautiful and minutes away from the beach.

“I have visited the campus a few times and the coaching staff and the team all seem welcoming and always play as a team and it is definitely going to be a major change,” she said, adding, “But a good change.”

While focusing on the current season, Farrell acknowledged that the playing for a new team will be somewhat overwhelming due the completely new environment, but said that with the warm welcoming of the team and coaches she will fit in just fine. 

“I am ready for the next level and all the challenges I will face,” she said.

To her younger teammates Farrell said, “Work hard, be determined and never give up on yourself.”

As for Sullivan, the Cougars coaching staff has every reason to be proud, while saying goodbye to another talented player who will represent his community at the next level.

Bloomingdale High School also sported four talented student-athletes who have enjoyed the recognition for their hard work at the school’s Media Center during signing week.

While Mariah Blackmon committed to play Division II softball with Converse College in South Carolina next fall, Austin James, Chase Lackmann and Alex Miller will play baseball with Florida International University, Rollins College and Marymount University respectively.

“I know where I am going next year and so it is a great burden off my shoulders,” Blackmon said. “Since my last high school season is yet to come I am planning on working hard and finish this season strong.”

For more information about Durant and Bloomingdale, visit www.sdhc. k12.fl.us.