GALLERY: Three seniors sign to play at the next level

Macy Waddle

Yesterday afternoon, three seniors signed their Letter of Intent on National Signing Day. Jewell Fentress (12, HSU) signed first; she will continue her softball career at Lincoln Memorial University. Field hockey player Amelia Frey (12, J&C) signed to play at Wake Forest University, while her teammate Emma Hulsmeyer (12, HSU) signed to play at Lindenwood University. 

By signing their National Letter of Intent, these athletes made their verbal commitments to their schools official. Athletes can sign any day throughout the signing period, although National Signing day marks the first day of that period. There will be another signing day in the spring for other athletes who have committed to play at the next level. 

All three athletes accredit Manual to helping their success, either in the classroom or on the field. “It’s academically prepared me for rigorous college courses, granted me connections with lots of diverse people,” Hulsmeyer said.

Both Frey and Fentress also acknowledged academic opportunities, but also the athletic ones. “Manual may be challenging, but you are surrounded with plenty of resources and opportunities to excel,” Fentress said.

These signees had to overcome some unusual challenges when it came to recruiting because of COVID-19. “The height of my recruiting process aligned almost perfectly with the height of the pandemic,” Frey said. 

In spring 2020, the Division 1 council created an in-person recruiting dead period. This prohibited visits and face to face coach communication. However, this worked to Frey’s advantage. “This was a huge challenge at the time, but ended up being part of the reason I was able to receive an offer from Wake despite a late decision to pursue the Division 1 level,” she said.

Fentress agrees, explaining that the pandemic can not only affect her recruiting but also her as a person. “This pandemic was a major setback for me as my entire junior year was swept away in an instant and it really discouraged me and my grades reflected that,” she said. However, she notes, ”I learned that just because resources were limited to me it didn’t mean I had to give up on my dream to play college softball. I pushed harder, getting my grades up and reaching out to more schools.”

Hulsmeyer has also experienced a different kind of setback through injury. Early in the season, she was diagnosed with Compartment Syndrome in one of her legs. Despite this, she still played this season. However, after her surgery on October 29, Emma is looking forward to “bouncing back” in college. 

“I’m going to start physical therapy again to gain more strength in my leg and going to focus on working on my skills on the field so I’m ready when I get to Lindenwood,” she said. 

The athletes all gave speeches of thanks after signing, but RedEye asked each athlete who their biggest inspiration and support was. Here’s what each athlete said: 


Jewell Fentress: “My brother passed away a little over a year ago when the pandemic started. There were days I told him I didn’t even know if I wanted to go to college, days where softball got so physically and mentally tiring that I didn’t want to play. He told me ‘you go to college, you play, and you graduate because I have never seen someone so passionate about a sport they love than I do when I watch you play.’ He was there for me and still is watching every accomplishment I have achieved.”


Amelia Frey: “My biggest inspirations are my former teammates, who have been excellent role models of character, as well as my parents, coaches, and other mentors in my life who have always believed in my ability to play and study at a high level.” 


Emma Hulsmeyer:  “My biggest inspiration is my mom because she has always been my motivator, gets my stuff ready for all my games, and is always on the sidelines supporting me with signs and cheers.”


Frey and Hulsmeyer will continue to train through club sports until their college seasons begin and Fentress is continuing to prepare for both her senior and college seasons.

“I’ve been so ready for this moment for years and now that it’s coming true I can’t even begin to believe it. I’m just so glad I can finally say I made it,” Fentress said.