Even behind a mask, McKinney North senior Amaria Fields couldn’t hide her excitement as she gazed out from atop the stage in the high school’s cafeteria Wednesday evening.
A crowd that included teammates, coaches, friends and family members was in attendance, with Fields and her family grateful for the support shown to the Lady Bulldogs’ star guard.
“It’s very humbling to see everyone come out and support. It means everything to me,” Fields said.
Fields’ feelings were shared by many a student-athlete around the country on Wednesday — the first day of the early signing period. All day long, students put pen to paper and signed letters of intent to further their athletic careers into college. All sports except football were eligible to sign on Wednesday.
For Fields, who’s in her fourth year leading the North girls basketball team, she’ll head northeast for the next chapter in her career on the hardwood — making a pledge to play at Boston College official. Fields committed to the program back in April with competing interests from schools like Wake Forest, Virginia Tech and University of Texas at El Paso.
“Just the coaching staff and the education,” Fields said. “I want to major in neuroscience and they have a really good science department. Coach (Joanna Bernabei-McNamee) is amazing — the best coaching staff in the country. … They’re so meticulous and were very detailed about how I would fit into their system. They had everything I was looking for.”
Fields has developed into one of the top players in the Metroplex — averaging more than 20 points per game her sophomore and junior seasons. A two-time Star Local Media all-area selection, Fields earned offensive MVP honors last season for a North team that qualified for the playoffs for the 11th straight year.
“I want to be a good teammate and get better at creating for others. I want to help make my teammates better,” Fields said as she begins her senior season. “We’re a young team and we have some freshmen who are already playing critical minutes.”
Fields was one of nine North student-athletes who put pen to paper on Wednesday. The Bulldogs had five members of their baseball program sign, including seniors Cameron Bonds (Regis), Cade Kennan (Hardin-Simmons), Dylan Rogers (Air Force), Dylan Stowe (Lyon College) and Casey Workman (Hill College). North captured a district title in 2019 and was off to an 8-3 start during its abbreviated 2020 campaign.
North senior Nylah Encalade, a standout middle hitter on the Lady Bulldogs’ district runner-up volleyball team, will continue her career into college at McNeese State, while fellow Lady Bulldogs Natasha Soto (Angelo State) and Cambori Watson (East Central) are headed to play college soccer following their senior campaigns.
Baseball trio stays intact
McKinney celebrated a six-person signing class on Wednesday, including three baseball players who will remain teammates even after their high school careers conclude. Seniors Seth Cox, Bryce Johnson and Landon Kerkmaz all finalized commitments to attend Northeast Texas Community College.
Senior Trinity White, meanwhile, will author the next chapter of her basketball career in the midwest, finalizing a pledge to play for Butler. White was a key cog in the Lionettes’ run to the Class 6A state semifinals last season, earning all-district first-team honors.
Senior Madison Lane signed to continue her soccer career into college at Palm Beach Atlantic, while senior tennis standout Jordan Oberbillig will remain in state after committing to East Texas Baptist.
Boyd stick-and-ball stars sign
There was plenty of star power on the diamond present at McKinney Boyd’s fall signing ceremony as well, including two players who have carved out prominent roles on varsity since they were freshmen.
Senior Kinsey Kackley, who struck out a staggering 497 batters as a sophomore, finalized a commitment to play softball at Louisiana-Monroe. Kackley missed her junior year with an ACL injury but was released in April and able to pitch on the club circuit during the fall.
“I got to see the academic side of everything and that put everything in perspective of [ULM] is where I need to be,” Kackley said to The McKinney Courier-Gazette in August. “I was also able to communicate with the coaches over the summer and absolutely loved what they were offering.”
Collins, meanwhile, will head a few hours north to play for Oklahoma State. A multi-time all-district superlative winner, Collins helped lead the Broncos' baseball team to their first-ever state semifinal appearance during his sophomore season.
Senior John Poe also signed to continue his baseball career into college, committing to Fort Scott Community. The Broncos also recognized cross country standout senior Paige Maple, who recently helped Boyd win a district title and is committed to Dallas Baptist, as well as senior golfers Brooke Morales (Houston) and Elliee Rippee (North Georgia), plus the girls soccer trio of Mikayla Smith (East Central), Morgan Westbury (Texas A&M-Corpus Christi) and Olivia Witte (East Central).