COLLINSVILLE: Every high school athlete’s dream is to have the opportunity to take their talents to the next level, and four local students will get their chance.

Many family and friends gathered Wednesday morning as four West Lauderdale students signed letters of intent to continue their athletic careers in college.

Maddox Atkinson, Golf: MCC

Golfer Maddox Atkinson will continue his playing career at Meridian Community College and believes the school will be a good fit. 

“It feels great,” Atkinson said. “I'm just thankful to have the opportunity to continue to play the sport that I love, so I'm really looking forward to it.”

After talking with several other coaches, Atkinson said there was an instant connection with the staff and players at MCC.

“After spending some time with the staff and players, I really fell in love with the environment there,” he said. “It was effortless to get along with everyone. During our first meeting, we just hit it off really well, and I believe I can really thrive here just doing what I love.”

Atkinson admitted that golf was not his top priority, but during his sophomore year, he decided to step away from baseball and give it a try. 

“I played golf once or twice in my life, and I enjoyed it. I didn't realize I'd be as good as I am now, but when I started playing a little bit more, I fell in love with it, and I just stuck with it. And fortunately for me, I've gotten good enough to where I can continue playing,” Atkinson added.

Atkinson said his main goal is to focus on his studies and, hopefully, after two years, move on to play golf at a university.

McKinley Maxwell, Softball: MCC

Similar to Atkinson, McKinley Maxwell will look to master her sport at MCC, playing infield for the softball team.

“I'm super excited, and I can't wait to play on the next level,” Maxwell said. “I want to thank my family, my friends, and my coaches for pushing me to be able to make it to the next level.”

When Maxwell was little, playing softball always made her happy, and she’s been locked in ever since.

Maxwell said it was her relationship with the coaches and how they made her feel welcome that made her decision a no-brainer.

Brett Busbea, Baseball: Pearl River CC

The Pearl River Central Blue Devil baseball team and 2022 NJCAA DIV II National Champs will add infielder Brett Busbea to its roster.

“I'm super excited, and I'm ready to get down there,” Busbea said. “I've grown up playing baseball, and my love for the game is just different. I play many other sports, but baseball is the one for me, and I’m really excited about this opportunity.”

Besides being the defending national champions, Busbea said the love for the coaching staff and the atmosphere helped with the decision to sign with Pearl River.

Busbea is set to play third base and pitch for the Blue Devils and has high hopes for starting when he gets there.

Noelle Howell, Tennis: East Central CC

Noelle Howell signed with East Central Community College to further her tennis career.

I'm just thankful and, of course, excited to get back to it this fall,” Howell said. “I got a really good scholarship, and I must give them a lot of credit with my decision because they are really good at recruiting.”

Howell has played tennis since she was a child, and her love has continued to grow. She hopes to pass that love on to the younger generation with her teachings.

“I just love the sport,” she said. “I give lessons to kids, and I just want to help others get involved with tennis.”

Howell hopes to make an immediate impact at East Central, but ultimately she is excited to start working.

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