Shafen Borah had given up on his dream to run cross country in college.
It became a reality on Thursday morning when Borah put pen to paper, signing a letter of intent to UT Tyler while surrounded by family and well-wishers at Milton's Center for Athletic Advising.
"I honestly did not think I would be going to UT Tyler; I had my plans set to go to TJC because everyone else in my family went there," said Borah, a recent Robert E. Lee graduate who was a standout on the boys cross country team that won district last year.
"But I love to run, so when I got this opportunity to go to UT Tyler, I was super excited."
Despite being a legacy school for the Borah family, Tyler Junior College does not have a cross country or track program. This pushed Borah to make UT Tyler his top choice with the opportunity to not only join a collegiate cross country team, but one that last season achieved its sixth consecutive conference title.
Borah maintained a 3.6 grade point average at Lee, but his ACT scores did not reflect that. Nearing graduation, he resigned himself to forego being a Patriot and enroll at TJC.
"I love to run and I was pretty upset when I learned I couldn't go to UT Tyler because of my scores," Borah said.
Rev. Jerome Milton began MCAA in April after a 25-year career as a coach and advisor at Bishop Gorman.
Milton expects to be very busy in the fall as he works to help athletes receive scholarships during the November signing period and in 2017 on national signing day.
The summer is the aforementioned "dead period" when it comes to college recruiting, but a month or so ago, Milton said he received a phone call from Borah's family.
"He wanted to go to the next level, but he'd got a little sidetracked," Milton said. "He finally decided, ‘I want to do it.'"
The time frame to try and accomplish this was nonexistent, but Milton went to work.
"Scholarships are all gone and admissions-wise was hard to because we had passed their timeline," Milton said.
Milton soon learned that UT Tyler coach Bob Hepler was very interested in Borah.
"Bob Hepler was doing everything he could to try and recruit Shafen, but wasn't sure he wanted to go to the next level," Milton said.
Borah quickly showed Hepler and Milton how committed he was to running cross country in college.
"When I got another chance I was super excited," Borah said. "I worked really hard and (retook the ACT) and got the scores I need."
Added Milton: "UT Tyler was great; we were able to get it done."
Borah became the first athlete to sign a letter of intent at the recently formed MCAA.
He also now joins a Patriots men's cross country team that has owned the American Southwest Conference with nine titles and has competed in the NCAA regionals the past seven years in a row.
At Lee, Borah helped the Red Raiders run away with a district title in October, with Borah finishing third overall in the race. He followed that up in the spring with a third-place finish at the District 11-6A meet in the 1,600-meter run and also qualified for the area meet in the 800-meter dash.
Because of the late decision, Borah will not have to wait long before beginning his collegiate career.
"It's actually a really awesome feeling," Borah said.