By Tony Adams, Sports Editor
Friendships in the classroom. Teammates on the athletic fields. True Belton tradition.
Three Belton Lady Tigers and two Belton Tigers’ football players took to the table as the quintet committed to universities within Texas last Wednesday at the Belton High School Multipurpose Complex.
On the Lady Tigers side, Kaylee Krenek signed with Texas State University to participate in the Track and Field program, Jamie Brown signed with Texas State University for the Soccer program and Courtney Dippel signed onto the Soccer program at West Texas A&M in Canyon.
On the Tigers’ side, Sam Hussey and Tevin Jones verbally committed to the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor Football Program here in Belton.
Krenek had plenty of offers, which included Mississippi State, Incarnate Word, Texas-Arlington and Penn on the Division I level and had a chat with West Texas A&M, where her sister Emily is a first-team All-South Central Region midfielder. She has worked her way back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament as a freshman to being one of the biggest successes in the Belton athletic program, qualifying for the Class 5A State Track meet in the 100-meter hurdles the past two seasons. She will be studying to be a physical therapist in the classroom.
“At the time I got hurt, it was hard for me to picture myself being here,” Krenek said. “But each year, I gained more confidence. I knew my junior year this is where I wanted to be and now I’m thankful that I am. My trainers were excellent and are a big reason that I am here.”
Brown has been solid in the three-plus years on the varsity soccer team as a defender and has helped contribute to three district championships. Choosing Texas State over Houston and Alabama-Birmingham, Brown will be joining her sister Jourdan, a midfielder at TSU. Texas State is also the alma mater of her father, North Belton Middle School principal Joe Brown, who played for the school formerly known as Southwest Texas State University. She will be attending TSU as a Mass Communications/Sports Broadcasting Major.
“I’m really excited because it feels I’ve worked for this forever,” Brown said. “Texas State is close to home. Plus, with Jourdan going to grad school there next year, she’ll get to be there too.”
Dippel has been another key part of the Lady Tigers’ Soccer success, recording a staggering 50 shutouts in her three-plus years in goal, including a school-record 20 shutouts in 2014. She is three shutouts shy of the school record and just a handful of minutes shy for minutes played in goal. She chose WT over Hardin-Simmons, Mary Hardin-Baylor and Angelo State. She will get to play for a year with former Lady Tiger standout Emily Krenek and will study kinesiology.
“What made West Texas A&M stand out from the other soccer programs was their coaching,” Dippel said. “I really like working with their goalkeeper coach. I’m relieved that it’s over. I’m happy about it and now that I’m committed, I don’t to stress about finding a place.”
Hussey and Jones strongly wanted to stay in town to play for the hometown Crusaders, seeing how the pair watched the success together growing up in Belton. Hussey started at center the past two seasons and Jones set the single-season tackles record in 2014 with 163.
“Air Force lost two guys and they made me a last minute offer,” Hussey said. “But I wasn’t too keen about going into the military. I’m excited to play high-quality football for Coach Pete (Fredenburg) at UMHB and be able to stay close to home.”
“Midway through this past season, I had a good feeling I could play college football,” Jones said. “The football facilities stand out to the other schools, and of course I really know the campus well.”
Both players will be studying in UMHB’s new physical therapy program that will start in the Fall of 2015. Two people close to the pair of UMHB commits that are excited are Sam’s mom, Sandy, and Tevin’s father, Mike.
“They say that their heart is here at UMHB, but that Mike and I can bring them dinner,” Sandy Hussey joked. “Mike and I are talking about getting them double refrigerators.”
“I have a ton of respect for Coach Fredenburg and the program,” Mike Jones said. “Watching him build the program from the ground up as we have, it’s exciting to know that we have our kids playing on the field for his program.”
“With seven home games this fall, we’ll get to support UMHB Football and watch our kids play,” Sandy Hussey added.