BULLARD — The Bullard Brook Hill upcoming graduating senior class has 40 students.
After a three-way signing of national letters of intent on Wednesday at the Kyle Lake Sports Complex, ten of those 40 graduates will now be playing athletics at the next level.
Guard pitcher Quinton Pile signed a Division I scholarship to throw in South Carolina for the Wofford College Terriers of the Southern Conference.
Jacksonville native and four-year varsity performer in five sports, Alyssa Eden will trek to Longview and play volleyball for LeTourneau University.
Sterling College in Kansas also picked up running back/punter T.J. Dunks for the NAIA football program.
ALYSSA EDEN (LeTOURNEAU UNIVERSITY, VOLLEYBALL)
When Eden started attending Brook Hill in the seventh grade, little did she know at that time the success she would achieve in athletics, the classroom and in the fine arts as an all-state vocalist and actor.
Playing volleyball, basketball, track, softball and also soccer somehow worked into the hectic schedule and was rewarded with the offer to play for the Division III American Southwest Conference Yellow Jackets in Longview.
An all-district performer in all five sports she participated speaks for itself. According to her volleyball coach, Ricky Clements, the LeTourneau coach saw the potential.
"When they called me about Alyssa they had looked at the tapes sent in and the coach had no problem with the athletic ability," Clements said. "The question I got back was what kind of kid was she. Did she have a good work ethic and what was her strong point?
"I easily summed it up in one word — character."
The awards are so numerous in athletics alone it makes one wonder where she found the time to study. Add on her academic all-state status in all the sports, and all-state singing and drama, Eden will be missed next year moving on to LeTourneau.
"Alyssa since the seventh grade has always been involved in everything possible and is the classic role model for what a Brook Hill student-athlete is all about," Brook Hill athletic director Wally Dawkins said.
A four-year varsity player in volleyball, basketball and softball, she also played three years of track and field and one year of soccer, and a state championship along with that.
"I'm really excited to get to play at the next level and Brook Hill was a great experience for me from the first day I stepped on the campus," Eden said. "I really like the coach and players that I met when we went over for my visit and the school has a great academic program."
Alyssa follows the footsteps of her older sister, Erica, a former Lon Morris volleyball player and former Brook Hill standout.
QUINTON PILE (WOFFORD COLLEGE, BASEBALL)
Although not the biggest player on the field, his arm speaks louder than words and Wofford College, in Spartanburg, S.C., knows it. Wofford College signed the Guard flame-thrower and Pile is now all smiles.
Ask any of the TAPPS schools at the state tournament the past two seasons and they will attest that size doesn't matter when it comes to throwing a baseball.
Having been a part of back-to-back state title winners on the diamond, the senior signee has one more project on his agenda before he treks off to the Southern Conference, playing the likes of Appalachian State, The Citadel, Elon, Davidson and Charleston in league play and Auburn to start off the year next season for the Terriers.
Wofford went 22-32 last season and currently stand at 15-24 with 17 games left on the season.
Turning many recruiters' and scouts' heads playing this past summer for the D-Bat Mustangs out of Dallas, Pile made the most of the exposure to the Metro Scouts League where Wofford made the move to sign Pile to pitch for the Division I school.
After an outstanding summer, Pile received interest from the likes of Baylor, TCU, Iowa, Stephen F. Austin, Abilene Christian, Navy, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Dartmouth. Numerous other small colleges and junior college powerhouses made calls too, including Howard College.
"I've really been blessed to play with some really good players and for some great coaches," Pile said. "We have been taking it slow coming back from an earlier injury and the coaches were great at not pushing it and looking out for my future.
"Coach (Travis) Chick taught me so much the two years he was here and really tweaked some of the little things that have really paid off for me. Coach (Terry) Pirtle was a good coach, but made the game fun and coach Reed does so much for us both in baseball and in the classroom. I'm gonna miss playing with them not on the bench."
Upon Pile's recent return to the lineup, Brook Hill is marching through district play having rested both Pile and TJC-signee pitcher Drew Robertson now ready for duty down the stretch for the TAPPS Division III team as it vies for the return trip to Red Murff Stadium in Belton.
"It's been great to be a four-year starter and now all we need to do is close out the year with a third state ring and that would be unbelievable," Pile said. "There are not too many that get to be a part of winning three state titles in a row and that would be awesome."
T.J. DUNKS (STERLING COLLEGE, FOOTBALL)
Dunks transferred to Brook Hill as a sophomore and immediately found out that there was no easy pass in class and Brook Hill had more to offer than just a high school education.
Dunks bid his time, sometimes having to watch his teammates from the sidelines, but due to incredible work ethic in recovery, Dunks proved his worth to catch the eye of the NAIA power, Sterling and got a great offer as well.
Dunks also received letters of interest or walk-on invites from Henderson State, McMurry University, Colorado State University-Pueblo, Seton Hall University, Liberty University, Midwestern State, Wayland Baptist, Western State College, Ouachita Baptist and others.
Sterling posted a 3-7 record last season and a 3-6 conference record in the Kansas Christian Athletic Conference.
Dunks is penciled in at running back and will also vie for punting duties.
Sitting out of sports as a junior to hit the books, Dunks' awards all came this year in football and soccer. Dunks was an all-district running back and linebacker and was all-district in soccer this past season.
When looking to single out a mentor of significance, Dunks had many that came to mind.
"I would say a lot of credit for my success shouldn't go to a single person, but those that believed in me, pushed me," Dunks said. "Those people were great teachers and role models and were great to me and they all should know who they are."
Planning to major in exercise science, Dunks is looking ahead to the future yet proud to have been a part of Brook Hill athletics.
"It was an honor to be a part of the Brook Hill program and to be around those before and after me and those in my class," Dunks said. "It always feels good to be on a winning team and even though we moved up this last year, it didn't crush our drive to never give up."
Looking back at the senior year of highlights Dunks could not single out any one particular standout.
"I would say my biggest highlights at Brook Hill were probably just any big plays that I made," Dunks said. "The newspaper-worthy plays, those are the best kind."