Nine local athletes signed National Letters of Intent to continue sports after high school
Every year, November is a big month for high school athletes around the country.
Those who plan to play sports in college have the opportunity to sign with the school of their choice during the early signing period — which took place on Nov. 13 for all athletes not playing football (that signing day is Dec. 18).
Park City high school is no exception, as seven athletes signed national letters of intent, including one athlete from the Picabo Street Academy and one from Rowland High School.
For the Miners, lacrosse was the theme of the day as five of the athletes signed Division-one letters of intent for the sport, highlighted by the sibling duo of McKnight and Lauren Pederson.
Lauren, one of three girls from Park City to sing on the day, will be spending her next four years at the University of Virginia of the ACC. Signing with the Cavaliers is not only a life-changing moment for Lauren, it signifies all the years of hard work finally paying off.
“The day has finally come so it feels really good to finally be here,” Lauren said. “It’s so exhilarating almost, you can’t really explain the feeling. But it’s time to keep working keep grinding and get better and better every day.”
The Cavaliers, who finished sixth in the final rankings of the season, lost in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament.
Also signing for lacrosse was Audrey Buchanan, who will be attending the University of Hartford of the America East Conference.
The only soccer player to sign was Kait Esquivel, who will attend Florida Gulf Coast University, a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference.
Esquivel’s decision to attend FGCU, a school nearly 2,500 miles away from Park City, was a combination of academics, athletics and weather.
“I hate the cold, so where it is campus-wise, the dorms on this lake thing and they have wifi on it, basically paradise,” Esquivel said. “I really like how the coaches generally care for their players. They are students before athletes and they’ll do anything for their players academics before athletics.”
Jackson Holman is taking a different route from the other signees by going to a junior college. South Mountain Community College in Phoenix won the 2019 junior college Division II national championship, and has a solid reputation of sending its athletes to Division I colleges.
“It feels good to finally sign somewhere and get it out of the way, after waiting your junior and senior year for this moment,” Holman said. “I’m excited to get down there, play for maybe a year or two, and then transfer to Division-one. … It’s an easier way for me to ease into college golf.”
The Miners will also send a trio of seniors from the gridiron to college, yet they will be playing on a different field than the football one.
Brady Baumann, Dylan Bauer and Pederson all signed NCAA Division I scholarship offers to play lacrosse for the next four years.
“I’ve always had the dream of playing lacrosse at the highest level and this is just a perfect fit for me,” Baumann said. “I feel really accomplished, really excited. It was a lot of hard work and for a lot of the time I was doubted, but I always had this dream and it finally feels good to accomplish that.”
Baumann will be attending Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, while Pederson will be fulfilling his lifelong goal of attending Princeton University.
“It’s my dream come true because I’ve been dreaming about it my whole life, ever since youth when I fell in love with the sport,” Pederson said.
Bauer signed with Johns Hopkins University, a recent participant in the 2019 NCAA men’s lacrosse tournament. Despite showcasing the ability to play football, Bauer has made it known that he’s always been a lacrosse kid first and foremost, watching his dream come true when he put pen to paper.
“Football is just fun,” Bauer said. “I mean, I love it but it’s just the chance for all of us to be together and play together again. It’s always been lacrosse for me.”
Audrey McDonald, an academic All-American who attends the Picabo Street Academy, had a tough recruitment when her dream school of Louisiana State University fell through. Instead, McDonald took a trip to San Diego State University where everything changed for her, and where she has chosen to attend for the next four years of her life.
“My recruiting trip was literally the best 24 hours of my life,” McDonald said. “In my heart, I was born and raised as a west coast girl. I think it was deifntley a msart move, a safe move and I wouldn’t change it for anything else.”
Finally, Rowland Hall senior Jordan Crockett, who lives in Park City, signed to play soccer at the University of Denver. After leading Rowland Hall to its third consecutive state championship, the center back is excited to begin her career at the next level.
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The former world champion and women’s ski jumping pioneer retired in March