Sports Update > National Signing Day
Nine West: Lady Wolves sending massive group to play collegiate soccer
While they may not have competed with the Plano West football players in terms of stature, the girls soccer players had the advantage in size Wednesday morning as nine inked scholarships on National Signing Day.
The contingent from the defending Class 5A State Champions included Brooke Ramsier and Casie Ramsier (Auburn), Sparky Fischer (Arkansas), Taylor Jackson and Taylor Barg (SMU), Claire Wheatley (Illinois), Bailey Sabei (Delta State), Gabby Hadley (Hardin-Simmons) and Hannah Nicholson (UTEP).
The singular ceremony was a rarity considering West has held separate club and varsity soccer signings four of the past five years.
"Yeah, we didn't need that this year," said Carley Phillips, West head coach. "It's an exciting day and a big step for the girls."
Phillips is just eight years removed from signing to play college soccer at SMU.
Perhaps because of that, two of Phillips' players signed with the Lady Mustangs.
"I'm still connected with SMU," she said with a sly smile before adding, "so I might have talked to the Taylors."
It was actually Barg and Jackson that approached Phillips about SMU.
"We pulled coach Phillips aside and asked for her point of view on the school," Barg said.
"And it was a good talk," Jackson added. "She was real honest and told us stuff you wouldn't normally hear from coaches, like about dorm life and the communal bathroom situation."
Barg and Jackson didn't need convincing about going to school together
"I think having [Jackson] there will make things a lot easier," Barg said. "We've been playing together since we were 4, so we're pretty connected."
"Eh, I don't really like [Barg] that much," Jackson interjected before grabbing her in a headlock.
Barg and Jackson described their bond as "Taylor Telepathy," a force they joked may be the strongest on the team. That assertion was quickly challenged by the Ramsiers.
"I don't know," Casie said with a smile, "the twin bond is pretty strong too."
That bond quickly dismissed any notion of the sisters going to different colleges.
"We thought about it for a moment and then said, 'no way,'" Brooke said.
"We've been living together for 18 years," Casie added, "so it would be weird without her now."
Brooke (midfielder) and Casie (forward) made it clear they were a package deal.
"Luckily Auburn wanted both of us anyway," Brooke said. "And I think part of that is because we play so well together."
There were plenty of suitors for the Ramsiers, but passion set Auburn apart.
"That whole state, you are either for Auburn or Alabama," Casie said. "And that was obvious when we are on campus; there is just so much school spirit and then the coach was really genuine too, so it was a great fit."
A fit the twins will share.
"I'm kind of nervous about being so far away from home," Brooke said as she looked over at Casie, "but the best part is I get to bring some of home with me."
"That's so sweet," Casie responded as they hugged.
The Ramsiers will encounter a current teammate in the SEC as Fischer signed with Arkansas.
But that wasn't always the plan for Fischer, who pledged to TCU as a sophomore.
"Then TCU had a coaching change and the new coach wanted a fresh start and his own players," Fischer said. "It was hard for a period of time, but my motto has always been that when one door closes, another one opens."
Fischer re-opened her recruiting and found a new set of suitors.
"When you are doing this a second time, it's not necessarily the same colleges that approach you again," Fischer said. "Luckily, I was able to find a school I thought would be a great fit for me."
But don't look for a Sparky Fischer on the Arkansas roster next year as the defender will drop the nickname and go by Alex ... kind of.
"I'm sure I'll always be known as Sparky in soccer circles," she said.
Close to the Ramsiers and Fischer will be Sabei, who inked with Delta State. The Cleveland, Miss.-based campus is close to much of Sabei's family on her mother's side.
"I hadn't heard of them at first," Sabei said. "But I really liked the campus and the small town feel; and when you add in all the nearby family, that's really where I wanted to be."
The emotions were obvious for Sabei.
"I've been waiting for this moment for so long," she said. "It's just ... surreal."
Multiple Lady Wolves, most of which have been verbally committed since their sophomore or junior years, shared those sentiments. That group included Wheatley, who is Illinois bound.
"I'm so glad this day is finally here," she said.
After waiting years to sign her letter of intent, the West goalkeeper made her parents wait a little bit longer Wednesday morning.
"I might've been a few minutes late," she said with a laugh, "but I made it, didn't I?"
Wheatley's appearance allowed the girls to sign and indulge in the college-based cupcakes made for them.
"It's so amazing that I get to share this day with girls I've been playing with since I was 6 or 7," Wheatley said. "We're like a big family."
That word was used repeatedly by the Lady Wolves.
"They are like my family," Fischer said. "I've played with all these girls for at least four years and most of them since I was a little kid."
"These girls are like a second family to me," Sabei added. "And it is such a privilege to sign with them."