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student-athletes at Signing Day 2024
Posted in , on May 9, 2024

Student-athletes look ahead to college

There was much to celebrate at the 2024 National Signing Day event Tuesday for the Arlington ISD, including a significant increase in the number of participating student-athletes. The event honored 112 students from the six traditional high schools, up from 82 in 2023.

student-athletes at Signing Day 2024In all, they earned more than $6.3 million in scholarship dollars from over 70 colleges and universities, ranging from Texas schools like Baylor, SMU and Texas A&M to institutions like USC, Valparaiso and Montana State. Student-athletes were rewarded for their talents in a variety of sports, including football, basketball, baseball, soccer, track, softball, cheer and wrestling.

“This is such a fun celebration,” said Eric White, Arlington ISD athletic director. “And it’s not just about this year for these athletes, it’s about the last 12 years. It’s about their parents, their coaches, their dedication, their talent and their mental toughness.”

According to White, the transfer portal has made it more difficult for high school students to receive scholarships, since college coaches can now easily pursue athletes who have already proven themselves at that level.

“That’s what make this large class of student-athletes extra special,” White said.

Held at the Arlington ISD Athletics Center, the event highlighted the achievements of the student-athletes as they walked across the stage to congratulatory handshakes from coaches and applause from family and friends.

The event also featured a Q&A session with a former Arlington ISD student-athlete and a current Arlington ISD football coach, Emily Slagle and Malik Boynton. In response to questions from student-athletes, the pair dispensed useful advice about college life, including common obstacles like time management, stiffer competition and distractions from home.

Signing Day 2024Boynton, a Sam Houston High School football coach, attended Austin Peay State University and played cornerback in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He spoke about what it took to succeed at the next level.

“For most people who didn’t make it, it wasn’t a capability thing,” he said. “You’ve got to have a willingness to do what’s required. You’ve got to be willing to do the work.”

Slagle, a Martin High School grad who played basketball at Dartmouth and now coaches in Mansfield, stressed the importance of seeking help when facing struggles, especially during freshman year.

“One of the biggest things is building a community and not trying to do it by yourself,” said Slagle. “That can really help you in difficult times. Advocate for yourself early and be proactive about it.”

Slagle was also asked about her best piece of advice for student-athletes.

“Don’t give up. Don’t quit,” Slayton said. “Stay patient and give yourself some grace.”

See all the photos from Signing Day.