By Clay Whittington
Belton Journal

Allie Angell did not see any reason to wait.

Still in the midst of her senior season, the Lady Tigers standout soccer player participated in a group signing ceremony Monday after committing to play collegiately at Mary Hardin-Baylor.

With the possibility of a fifth consecutive district championship and a deep playoff run still looming, Angell could have waited to see if her play during the upcoming weeks generated any additional offers, but there was no need.

“I just knew UMHB was the place for me,” the senior backline defender said, “and I didn’t want to wait, so I did it. It just felt right.

“Now, the pressure is off as far as finding a college, but we still want to get a lot of things done as a team this season. That is fun pressure, though.”

Angell was surrounded by supporters inside Belton’s field house as she acknowledged her decision, which was made official Feb. 1 – National Signing Day – but inclement weather forced school to close, postponing the ceremony.

Tigers football players Zachary Erickson and Slade LeBlanc also announced their decisions during the event.

Erickson, a center and deeper snapper, committed to Southern Arkansas, while utility player LeBlanc will play for Arkansas-Monticello.

The programs are longtime rivals residing in the Great American Conference, ensuring the teammates will reunite at least once per season, but Erickson had additional reasons for his choice.

“I didn’t receive an offer from Southern Arkansas until not too long ago,” he said, “but once I went to visit, that just really solidified everything for me. It made me realize that was where I needed to be.

“The coaches were like mentors that I could look up to, ask questions to and always go and talk to if I needed to.”

While with the Tigers, Erickson and LeBlanc were responsible for helping elevate the program to its greatest height in recent history, winning the first outright district title since 1999 before ending a five-year drought without a playoff win.

With Erickson anchoring the offensive line, LeBlanc filled a variety of offensive roles during his tenure, accounting for over 1,000 total yards and 14 touchdowns while playing quarterback, running back and receiver at various times along with punting duties.

Although his time with the Tigers is complete, LeBlanc will always take pride in his accomplishments at Belton.

“It has been really cool to be a part of this revival process here,” he said. “We helped take a big step forward for this program, and it is because everyone was surrounded by other good people.”