At the ceremony on Nov. 14, Jacob Hasty committed to Louisiana State University to play baseball, Bella Hughes signed with St. Mary’s University in San Antonio to play basketball, Bailey Lewis committed with Coastal Carolina University to play basketball, Ella Marr signed with Colorado Christian University to play volleyball, Gabby McBride signed with Iowa State University to play basketball, Payton Oltrogge signed with The University of Texas at Tyler to play basketball, Kolsen Powers committed to Midland College to play baseball, and Hayden Winter signed with Cornell University to play baseball.
Jacob Hasty came to Liberty Christian in the fall of this year, and he believes the programs at Liberty are helping him become physically and academically stronger in preparing for LSU.
“I spend every moment thinking about baseball, and I have worked my whole life for this opportunity,” Jacob said. “It is an honor to be able to play for one of the best teams in the nation in the SEC conference.”
In his dream of playing baseball in college, Jacob has earned impressive honors: winning second with his team in TAPPS state, earning TAPPS 1st District Baseball, and participating in the New York Mets and Texas Rangers scout teams.
At the age of 12 in Cooperstown, N.Y., he individually won the Golden Arm Award and his team won the entire tournament, beating teams from all over the U.S. and Canada.
In addition to awards in math and art, Jacob collected 60 hours of community service and traveled on a mission trip to New York City to help the homeless.
In the future, Jacob hopes to perpetuate his love for baseball by becoming a scout or coach.
Bella Hughes said that she feels that her fervent dedication to basketball has truly paid off in her commitment to play at the college level. She thanked Liberty for teaching her the discipline required to succeed, and she cannot wait to further her success at St. Mary’s University.
“I have been playing basketball for as long as I can remember,” she said. “My dad coached me my whole life, and we share the same passion for the game.”
Bella has won the Warrior Heart Award, Most Valuable Player, 1st Team All-District, and 2nd Team All-State. During her freshman year at Liberty, she also traveled on a mission trip and was baptized there.
She wants to major in criminology and minor in psychology to become a forensic specialist.
“The Liberty family has played such a major role in making me who I am today and defining my goals for the future,” she said. “I look forward to the next chapter of my life at St. Mary’s!”
Bailey Lewis said she has worked toward and dreamt about this moment since she started playing basketball in 3rd grade.
“I am excited and grateful both for this athletic and academic opportunity,” she said. “I have had great coaches who have encouraged me to do my best.”
In addition to her involvement in basketball, volleyball, and track, Bailey is a member of the National Honor Society, Pre-Med Club, Key Club, International MIX Club, and Spanish Club.
She plans to pursue a degree in the medical field and eventually become a surgeon.
Bailey said, “Liberty Christian’s Advanced Placement classes are challenging, and they have prepared me for college-level work.” Her favorite courses include AP Statistics, Anatomy, Spanish, and Ceramics.
“I’d like to thank my parents, sisters, grandparents, friends, and teachers for their support and advice through the years,” she said. “I also want to thank my coaches for being great role models to me.”
Ella Marr said she feels a major sense of accomplishment to sign to play volleyball at the college level.
“From a very young age, I watched my sister play volleyball, and it was always something I wanted to do,” she said. “I have been playing since 2nd grade, and I cannot imagine what my life would be like without it.
“My love and dedication for the game kept me going.”
Ella has traveled with club teams since 8th grade and found many rewarding times with her teams. A member of the Village Church, Ella said traveling on a mission trip to Guatemala with Liberty on a mission trip forever changed her life.
She has won 1st Team All-District, 2nd Team All-State, and Offensive Player of the Year.
At Colorado Christian, she wants to pursue a degree in nursing.
She said that Liberty academics have helped her manage her time, and the athletics have taught her how to turn her love for the sport into hours of dedication and perseverance.
“I want to give a huge thank you to Coach Grizzle and Coach Carver for making me work hard in the sport,” Ella said. “I also thank my parents for always being there for me and supporting me through it all.”
Gabby McBride said playing basketball for Iowa State means that her hard work must continue to be the best she can be.
“I have played basketball my whole life, but it wasn’t until Middle School when I really fell in love with it,” she said. “I have put in so much time and effort, from 5 a.m. practices to shooting after practices.”
In addition to her participation in the Entrepreneurship Club, she was also named an Adidas All-American.
At Iowa State, she wants to pursue a degree in kinesiology.
She said, “Liberty has helped me develop better study habits and made me comfortable talking with teachers.”
She added, “Go Cyclones!”
Payton Oltrogge said she is so grateful to all of the coaches and trainers who have believed in her and invested their time and energy into her development over the years.
“Being able to play college basketball at the next level is a huge honor that has shown me all things are possible with hard work, determination, a strong faith in God, and the support of family and friends,” she said.
Her love for basketball grew in elementary school, saying her dad’s family all played the sport.
“My grandmother was an All-State guard in Iowa, and she shared her passion for the game with all of us,” she said.
Payton added that it was very special to her to sign with teammates Bailey Lewis and Gabby McBride, as all three of them have been friends since they began playing basketball together in the 5th grade.
With nearly 40 awards to her credit, Payton was a finalist for Christian Athlete of the Year and won 1st Team All-State, 1st Team All-District, and Offensive Player of the Year.
Payton plans to pursue biology/pre-med in college.
“The rigorous academics at Liberty have helped prepare me for college and the demands on a student athlete,” she said. “The teachers, counselors, and coaches have always been so supportive, pushing me to expect more of myself and to strive for excellence.”
Payton said that Coach Burroughs has been the ultimate example of a Christian coach as an amazing mentor and friend.
“Coach Burroughs and Coach Katie have been true blessings to me,” she said.
She also thanked Coach Mosher for the opportunity to be a part of her vision as the new coach at The University of Texas at Tyler. In addition, she thanked the coaches and trainers who have influenced her the most: Ken Burroughs, Cliff Warren, Earl Allen, Walsh Jordan, Kessler “Snap” Shepherd, Adrian Mercado, Carlos Ratliff, Wayne Watts, and Max Reese.
Kolsen Powers feels that his commitment to Midland College is a representation of God’s perfect plan for one’s life despite difficulties. He is incredibly thankful for his time at Liberty, saying that the school has taught him better time management and encouraged him to push himself to his full potential both on and off the field.
“From numerous states over thousands of miles and through surgery, I have gained a love for all parts of baseball,” said Kolsen. “I have especially learned that favor is gained through hard work and a genuine love of the sport.”
As a National Honor Society member, Kolsen has received awards in All-District Athletics and All-District Academics. He was also selected as a Preseason Perfect Game Honorable All-American Honoree.
Kolsen plans to study kinesiology and pursue a master’s in nutrition and/or an MBA.
“Liberty has taught me better time management skills, encouraged me to enhance my academic ability, and pushed me to my fullest potential in the class, on the field, and in God’s Word,” he said.
He thanked his parents, sister, and all of his family for sticking by his side during all of the ups and downs.
Citing Jeremiah 29:11, he said, “I also want to thank my coaches for pushing me to be my best on and off the field.”
Playing college baseball is a childhood dream come true for Hayden Winter. He expressed that signing was the recognition of the work he put into achieving his goals and the expectation that he will continue to excel in the future. He thanked Liberty for teaching him to balance his classwork with baseball.
Hayden was especially thankful for the mentors and coaches who supported him through the trial and error process of becoming a skilled baseball player.
“I had to learn to work consistently, and not focus on the results but rather on the process, which made the game lovable,” he said.
Hayden has accumulated a number of honors that have shaped him individually on and off the baseball field, including National Honor Society, serving with his classmates in the Dominican Republic on a Liberty mission trip, and being a part of the 2018 Warrior Baseball State Champion team.
Ultimately, Hayden wants to pursue a career in financial services/business at Cornell University.