There was a time when James Island Charter School’s Makyla Stanley wanted to quit track and field.
The long hours of training and the sacrifices away from her friends and family were almost too much for her to handle as a seventh-grader.
But Stanley was determined to finish what she had started and eventually gritted her teeth and stuck with it. Her hard work eventually paid off as she earned an athletic scholarship in track and field to the University of South Carolina.
Stanley was among hundreds of high school athletes across the state to officially sign with the colleges of their choice Wednesday. While most of the attention on National Signing Day is focused on football, athletes from more than a dozen other sports also signed national letters of intent.
“When I was in the seventh grade I thought about quitting a few times, but I stuck with it because in the long run I knew it would eventually pay off for me,” said Stanley, who along with 50 other student-athletes from Charleston County was honored Wednesday at a ceremony held at the Charleston County School District’s office. “It’s a dream come true to for me and the culmination of a lot of hard work. I’ve wanted to go to USC since the seventh grade and it’s finally happening for me. It feels great. I wasn’t sure this day would come, but it did.
“Going to USC will be like going into a new world for me. I think the hardest part for me this year will be keeping my focus and finishing my senior year strong. I want to win another state championship, but I’d really liked to be ranked nationally at the end of the season.”
Stanley said she expects to concentrate on the 100 meters, long jump and being a part of the Gamecocks 400-meter relay team.
“I think those are my strongest events,” she said.
Wando baseball star Kep Brown, who verbally committed to South Carolina as a sophomore, signed with Miami on Wednesday.
“I think this is one of those moments that I’ll remember the rest of my life,” Brown said. “For as long as I can remember me and my best friends have dreamed of getting a scholarship and playing college baseball and continuing our careers. To be able to celebrate it with all my friends and family is a great.”
Brown is considered the top baseball prospect in South Carolina. He is the only player from South Carolina — high school or collegiate — listed among Baseball America’s Top 50 Prospects for the 2015 Major League Draft.
Brown said playing for the Hurricanes was an easy decision. “Miami made me an amazing offer, one I couldn’t turn down,” Brown said. “The coaching staff, the campus was incredible. For me, I don’t think I’ll get homesick. As long as I get an opportunity to play baseball I’ll be fine.”
Wando’s Raymara Barreto, a member of the two-time defending state championship girls soccer team, signed with the College of Charleston.
“She’s a very special player,” Wando girls soccer coach Shannon Champ said. “In 20 years of coaching on the high school and college level, I can tell you, she is a rare breed.”
Wando boys soccer produced four signees from its 2014 state championship team: Tucker Heffron (College of Charleston), Nat Edwards (Millsaps College), Josh Masten (UNC Greensboro) and Jon Milligan (UNC Greensboro).
Frankie Mansfield contributed to this report