May 12, 2021 is a day that eight North Branch seniors will never forget.

On that day, those eight seniors – Laura Anderson, Paige Bauer, Emma Hurd, Reagan Irons, Chloe Moline, Abigail Schulte, Sophie Smith, and Alexis Torres – signed national letters of intent to continue their sports careers in college.

Afterwards these young ladies talked about the colleges they have chosen to attend, and their emotions on signing day.

Laura Anderson, soccer

School: Crown College.

Parents: Neil and Kelly Anderson.

Why did you choose Crown College? “The main reason I chose Crown College is because Crown is a Christian college. I also chose Crown because they had the programs I needed and, of course, its soccer program. I have been doing PSEO through Crown for the past two years and that is how I found out more about this college and decided to pursue my education there.”

What were your feelings on Signing Day? “The feeling I had while signing my letter of intent was very surreal. Just a few years ago the end of high school seemed so far away, and now here I am signing for college. I felt proud of myself and of my accomplishments that got to this point because playing soccer in college has always been a dream of mine.”

Paige Bauer, track & field

School: Mankato State University.

Parents: Matthew and Lorrie Bauer.

Why did you choose Mankato State? “Since seventh grade I have been attending a meet there. I fell in love with the facility and have heard really good things about the professors/school. The distance away from home isn’t too far either and just feels like home already whenever I visit.”

What were your feelings on Signing Day? “Extremely excited. Everything is falling into place and getting so close. I’m excited to open up a new chapter of my life as a Maverick and see what I can accomplish there now that my high school days are coming to an end.”

Emma Hurd, softball

School: Itasca Community College.

Parents: Elizabeth and Joe Hurd.

Why did you choose Itasca Community College? “I chose ICC because it has an environment just like home. I connected with coach, Kyle Erickson, right away and he made me feel like this is the next best chapter for me. I am very excited to continue my education and softball career at ICC and remaining a Viking is a nice perk!”

What were your feelings on Signing Day? “The emotion on signing day is very bitter sweet. It is exciting to have a new big change and to commit to something that I grew up doing but it is also sad because I’ll be doing it away from home, from friends and family. But those friends and family are all there cheering you on for the next step and in life. It is a nice feeling knowing that I will always have those people to come back home to.”

Reagan Irons, volleyball

School: College of Saint Scholastica.

Parents: Rodney and Diane Irons.

Why did you choose Saint Scholastica? “I chose Saint Scholastica because it has the top nursing program in Minnesota. I picked this school not just for the nursing program; I chose this school because of the volleyball program that they have and the coaching style and program that they have to offer.”

What were your feelings on Signing Day? “I was kind of shocked and excited. I was excited for committing and to start a new volleyball career. I was shocked because my high school career happened so fast.”

Chloe Moline, tennis

School: Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

Parents: Rhonda and Craig Moline.

Why did you choose Wisconsin-Stevens Point? “They have a great campus with amazing people!”

What were your feelings on Signing Day? “I was very excited to start a new chapter and continue the sport that I love.”

Abigail Schulte, track & field

School: Gustavus Adolphus College.

Parents: Brenda and Allen Schulte.

Why did you choose Gustavus Adolphus? “Gustavus has been an interest of mine since I went to a throwing camp over the summer in middle school. I love the campus, and all of the coaches and staff are super kind and welcoming. The religious aspect of Gustavus is super important to me too, as it is an ELCA Lutheran School. I love that it is a smaller school, and that it’s not too far from home.”

What were your feelings on Signing Day? “All I could think about was where I started as a thrower. As an eighth grader I got pulled up to throw on the High School team because there weren’t many girl throwers, and I was super young and didn’t throw that far, at least compared to the older girls I would compete against. I think back to my first meet in eighth grade and how far I threw; I was embarrassed and disappointed and thought that I shouldn’t be on the team. But now I know that that was supposed to happen; I was supposed to start there. I have grown so much over the past few years as a thrower and as a person and I am genuinely proud of who I have become. I am so lucky to have learned from a young age how important personal growth is, and I learned that from the North Branch track and field program. I am super excited to grow and throw farther at Gustavus Adolphus College, and I wouldn’t have ever gotten to this point now without my family, friends, teammates, and wonderful coaches.”

Sophie Smith, softball

School: Iowa Western.

Parents: Kim and Eric Smith.

Why did you choose Iowa Western? “I chose Iowa Western because it has a great softball program. I want to use that opportunity to get better at my game so I can transfer to a four-year college.”

What were your feelings on Signing Day? “I was very excited to take this next step in my softball and education career. It felt surreal to me.”

Alexis Torres, track & field

School: College of St. Benedict.

Parent: Dawn Torres.

Why did you choose St. Benedict? “I was instantly drawn to the ministry program, and the sense of peace and community I felt throughout the whole campus. I admired the Benedictine values and traditions and can’t wait to grow and prosper at this new home.”

What were your feelings on Signing Day? “I was filled with relief and excitement that I will be continuing my track career at my dream college.”

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