Six athletes sign at East Lake
The auditorium at East Lake was at near capacity Wednesday morning as football coach Bob Hudson ushered in the crowd and started the signing ceremony.
Hudson coached three of the six athletes who signed, Julian Santos, Gabe Holmes and Jake Hansen. Additionally, soccer players Emily Cady, Brenden Weigley and Cole McKinney signed.
Hudson segued into a multimedia presentation that highlighted the prep careers of the six athletes before bringing up each athlete and letting them address the audience.
"Only a small percentage of student-athletes get to sign letters of intent," Hudson said. "You have to have the mindset that you're going to out work everyone else; you'll need to be ready when you get there."
The football players got their moments behind the podium first. The Eagles made back-to-back state semifinals in 2013 and 2014. They also rebounded from early losses to make the 2015 playoffs. Each of the three athletes on the stage were part of that success.
Santos signed his LOI to attend Duke University. Hudson recalled Santos coming out for a football meeting as a freshman and sending an assistant over to see what he needed because Hudson thought Santos was a parent.
"I could not be more proud as a coach; this is why we get out of bed every day," Hudson said.
Santos, after entertaining 29 offers, picked Duke after visiting the campus and meeting with coaches.
"I definitely liked the academic setting and wanted to set myself up for the future, make the best decision for me and my family," Santos said.
Teammate Jake Hansen pulled on his University of Illinois cap. Hudson said that Hansen was told he would be competing for a spot right away on the Fighting Illini, members of the Big Ten. Hudson complimented linebacker Hansen's ability and willingness to do most anything, including stepping in at wide receiver when the team needed him. Hansen spoke of the long-lasting relationships he's made at the school and in the football program.
"College football has always been a dream of mine but I'll always be an East Lake Eagle," he said.
The final football signee was Gabe Holmes, signing with Campbell University.
"This is awesome, (Santos and Holmes) are some of my best friends I've spent the last four years with and I'm happy for them," Holmes said.
Holmes called the East Lake football team his second family. Holmes had plenty of praise for his first family, too.
"Mom, you are my backbone, you prepared me for this time in my life," Holmes said.
Cady signed her LOI to play for FAU. The Eagles are coming off a district title and are headed to Melbourne to play in the state semifinals on Friday.
"It's a different mentality from my freshman year (heading to state final four)," Cady said. "I know what to expect now but what' special is being able to share the experience with my team one more time."
McKinney will attend Xavier University and Weigley signed to play at Furman. Both athletes played sparingly for East Lake as the were club players for the Clearwater Chargers.