Mother Nature couldn’t delay the inevitable any longer.
After a heavy snowstorm that dumped several inches of powder over the area a week ago suspended National Signing Day at Joplin High School, five student-athletes realized their dream of having a future in collegiate athletics after signing their letters of intent on Wednesday.
The Joplin football program had four players sign — quarterback Blake Tash with Evangel University, defensive end James Boyd and placekicker Garrett Landis with Missouri Southern and offensive lineman Logan Myers with William Penn University.
Joplin baseball was also represented as Cade Carlson committed to play for Columbia College.
“I’ve loved my time here at Joplin and I cherish every single moment,” Myers said. “I have no regrets. I am so proud of all of my teammates, how far they have come and how we’ve all bonded together. We created some memories that will last all of our lives.”
For Landis and Boyd, the opportunity to play for the university they grew up watching was too good of an opportunity to pass up. Landis, who set the MSHSAA career record for PATs made with 211 and is third all-time for points by a kicker with 226 points, is particularly excited about being able to continue playing close to his support staff.
“It is really great knowing that a program has all the confidence in the world in you,” Landis said of Southern. “The community, as well as my family and friends, has always been important to us. It’s great to have the same support system follow me to the collegiate level.”
Boyd’s senior year ended prematurely due to a season-ending injury. Of course, that didn’t waver the trust Missouri Southern and head coach Jeff Sims had in the talent and ability of Boyd, which meant a lot to him.
“I think it is great to get a chance to play for Coach Sims,” Boyd said. “I know a lot of coaches and programs would have written me off after the injury. I have seen plenty of high school athletes around here deal with that. Just knowing Southern has that kind of faith in me makes me want to work that much harder for them.”
Tash, who set the national mark for career completion percentage (73.6 percent) as a three-year starter, found everything he needed at Evangel.
“When I went on my visit to Evangel, I felt like that was the place God wanted me,” Tash said. “I felt like I was wanted there. The coaching staff made me feel so welcomed after just four hours of my first visit. They compete at an extremely high level and want to be a successful program, and I can’t wait to get there and help them.”
Being an offensive lineman isn’t easy. You are in the trenches taking heavy contact every play you are on the field, and you hardly get the recognition you deserve. The lack of recognition sometimes makes it difficult for college coaches to notice you, and that is why Myers is incredibly thankful for the opportunity to play at William Penn.
“I am so excited,” Myers, who will be playing at center and guard, said with a smile. “I’ve wanted to play college football since I was 6 years old. I worked all four years for this moment, and to have football pay for my education is an awesome feeling.”
For Carlson, an infielder, having a future in baseball was always a dream for him. Earning the chance to play for Columbia College is just the first step in his plan to be around the game as much as possible.
“This is something I have always dreamed of doing, and I am really grateful for the opportunity,” Carlson said. “I have to thank my parents, who have always supported me in any direction I went, and all of the coaches I have had from Little League to high school.
“My life has been focused around baseball since I was 7 years old. I can’t even imagine my life without baseball, so my plan is to get two degrees: one in sports management and one in business administration. My plan is to try and find a job in a front office somewhere in baseball.”