KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Four members of Park Hill High School’s girls soccer program have signed to play at the next level.
The four — Sarah Hibbeler, Shannon Kauffman, MacKenzie Sackuvich and Morgan Young — signed their national letters of intent to their respective college soccer programs at a signing ceremony on Thursday, Feb. 14.
The quartet, who helped the Trojans to Park Hill’s first ever state soccer title last spring, signed across three different college levels. Hibbeler inked with Division I SIU-Edwardsville, while Sackuvich is headed to D-II Emporia State, Shannon Kauffman to NAIA Westminster in Fulton, Mo., and Morgan Young to NAIA University of St. Mary in Leavenworth, Kan.
“I’m lucky that I’ve had them in my program and I’ve be able to build relationships with and get to know them,” Park Hill coach Brandt Bell said. “It’s good to see them succeed on the field and in the classroom, and it’s also cool to see them pursue their dreams and play in college.”
Hibbeler, an attacking midfielder, was excited to sign alongside three of her high school teammates.
“I was very happy to be with my family, friends and especially my teammates here,” she said. “They’ve been with me from the start, so signing with them made me feel very grateful and blessed.”
Hibbeler fielded a variety of offers, including other Division I’s in Colorado State and Northern Colorado to go along with area D-II’s in Central Missouri and Emporia State.
But SIU-Edwardsville was always at the forefront of her mind.
“When I was a sophomore I was looking at D-I colleges and (SIU-Edwardsville) saw me at a Florida showcase and ultimately they kept talking to me and showing up at games,” she said. “I was very interested in the coaching staff whenever I went down for a visit. I loved the campus and their soccer program is really good.”
Hibbeler said that she will be missing a second straight prep season due to a knee injury.
“It’ll still be fun and I’ll be supporting them,” she said. “I’m excited to see us hopefully (win state) again.”
Kauffman added another high school memory on signing day.
“It was fun,” Kauffman said of signing in front of family and friends. “I’m excited to go to Westminister and for the opportunities that I have there. To make it official today was nice.”
Kauffman said she believes that the experience of playing in high-level games and situations has prepared her for the NAIA level.
Said Kauffman: “Having the experience going into these tough games, these state championship games, I feel I have good experience under my belt playing with lots of Division I commits and DII, so I think that’ll help propel me into my college play.”
Kauffman picked Westminister over Wayne State (Neb.) and Culver-Stockton.
“It really just felt like home,” she said. “I loved the team and they’re all really warm.”
Sackuvich had a plethora of area college interest.
Sackuvich ultimately picked Emporia State over closer schools in Rockhurst, Park and Missouri Western.
“After visiting campus and meeting with the girls and coaches, it really just felt like home,” the midfielder/forward said. “I really made that connection with them.”
And to have the recruiting process behind her?
“It’s relieving, very relieving,” Sackuvich said. “It’s exciting and I can’t believe that we made our childhood dream come true.”
But before moving on to play in college, Sackuvich is excited to see what her and her teammates can accomplish in their final season at Park Hill.
“We just want to be able to push and get that state championship again, that’s our main goal,” she said.
Young’s college coach made an appearance at the signing.
“That he took the time to come and watch me sign meant a lot,” Young said of her college coach Justin Seever. “He brought my jersey. The fact that he took the time to come and support me was great.”
Young, an outside back, desired a smaller college, such as the NAIA Spires.
“It has everything I wanted in a college,” Young said. “It has a great nursing program and it’s not too far from home, and of course, soccer. And I love the campus, it’s small and that’s what I’m looking for.”
Just like Sackuvich, Young is looking forward to what her senior season will bring.
“Why stop now? We just need to bring the same mentality that we’ve had the last few seasons,” Young said.