Wayne America

Process fun, but two Wayne seniors happy to sign letters of intent

A long, fun and challenging process ended Wednesday for two Wayne High seniors as they signed letters of intent to participate in college athletics at Wayne State College. At left, Kylie Hammer signs her letter of intent to play college basketball as her parents, Melissa and Scott (seated) look on with Wayne High coach Lindsay McLaughlin and Hammer’s brother, Austin. At right, Andrea Torres signs on to compete in cross country and track while her parents, Holly and Samuel (seated) and coaches Courtney Maas and Christa Dutcher witness. (Photos by Michael Carnes)

The phone calls, text messages and letters never seemed to end.

Juggling homework, practice, social activities and family with all of this correspondence might seem a bit too much, but for two Wayne High Seniors who signed letters of intent earlier this week, the experience was actually more fun than it may seem.

For Kylie Hammer and Andrea Torres, it won’t be much for their family and friends to come see them compete once their playing days are over a few months from now at Wayne High School. Both Blue Devil seniors signed letters of intent on Wednesday to take their talents across town and exchange the Blue Devil blue-and-white for the black-and-gold of Wayne State College. Hammer signed on to play for the Wildcat women’s basketball team, while Torres will take her running talents to compete in cross country and track for the Wildcats.

There were smiles aplenty between the two families and their friends as Hammer and Torres signed their names on the scholarship offers, a sense of relief that decisions have been made and the next steps in their young lives are already determined.

For Torres, the daughter of Samuel and Holly Torres, it was pretty simple — she had her heart set on Wayne State from the start.

Andrea Torres was a three-time state qualifier for Wayne in cross country and earned a medal in her senior season last month at the state meet in Kearney. (Photo by Michael Carnes)

“I had a few schools contact me, but I never really called them back,” she said. “I didn’t even go on any other visits. I wanted to go to Wayne State from the start.”

Torres plans to major in Spanish education with a minor in English education, and getting to compete in cross country and track is something she is excited to have the opportunity to continue with once her high school career is over.

“I’m pretty excited to be a Wildcat. It’s going to be a lot of fun,” she said. “I just like running a lot and I’m excited that I’ll be able to keep running competitively at Wayne State.”

Her mom, Holly, said that her daughter did the bulk of the work as far as communicating with Wayne State and the other colleges that sent letters.

“She had a few letters and phone calls, but none that she was actively looking at,” she said. “She was really focused on Wayne State the whole time, and it’s great that we’ll be able to go and see her compete more now.”

For Hammer, the process was a little different, as she had two colleges showing significant interest in her, and in two different sports.

The daughter of Scott and Melissa Hammer was not only being recruited by the hometown Wildcats, but was also being looked at by Nebraska for track, where she has had success in the past with a couple of medals at the state track meet during her career.

Ultimately, being close to home was big for her, which tilted in favor of Wayne State.

“It was very exciting,” she said of the process. “It’s something I’ve been working my whole life to get to this point, and to be committed to a place that I love is just great. It’s close to home and the program just felt like home to me.”

Kylie Hammer was an all-state selection for the Blue Devil girls basketball team last year, joining the 1,000-point club and getting within distance of the school’s all-time career record. (Photo by Michael Carnes)

Hammer said she received a steady stream of correspondence from Wayne State, Nebraska and a number of other colleges, which made the recruiting process a little overbearing at times.

“I started getting letters for track my freshman and sophomore year, and basketball letters started coming last year,” she said. “It was very hard, but eventually I just got used to it and just loved the process.”

Her dad said she finally came to a decision the Sunday night before Wednesday’s signing, which was a big relief for her.

“I was excited for her and excited to have it done, because I know it took a toll on her with all the coaches calling and sending e-mails and texts,” he said. “Our only input was that she needed to do something and she knew that, but I know it was a tough call between wanting to run and wanting to play basketball, because she loves to do both.”

Hammer plans on majoring in elementary education at Wayne State, but by singing now before the start of her senior season in basketball, it takes a big load off of her mind.

“(Signing) was a big worry of mine, but now that I have it off my chest and everything’s settled I can play without any worries,” she said.

And like the Torres family, Hammer’s dad is looking forward to the new road destinations that will replace the closer trips to towns like Wisner, Pierce and Norfolk.

“A lot of the road trips in the Northern Sun aren’t too far away, and I’m anxious to watch them beat both the Sioux Falls teams (Augustana and University of Sioux Falls),” he said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

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