Van Buren had two student-athletes sign letters of of intent and commit to playing college sports during a brief ceremony Wednesday at the Clair Bates Arena.
Jourdan Mendez committed to play soccer for Eccleisa College while Andy McKee signed to play basketball for Oklahoma Wesleyan University. Ecclesia is located in Springdale and Oklahoma Wesleyan is in Bartlesville. Both are NAIA schools.
Mendez is a four-year starter for the Lady Pointers soccer team. She had played goalie as a freshman and sophomore, but was moved to forward her last two years of high school.
"She’s a great player, good athlete lots of speed and a good teammate," said soccer coach Nathan Almond. "She has been a big part of the improvement of the team."
Mendez led the team with eight goals scored and the Lady Pointers finished 7-11 overall, with the most wins by the Van Buren program in women’s soccer. The Lady Pointers fought Siloam Springs to a 2-2 tie until the Lady Panthers pulled away with a penalty kick for the win. Siloam Springs is playing for the Class 6A state title this weekend.
"We may not produce a lot of wins, but we do have quite a few girls and guys that have signed to play college," said coach Nathan Almond. "We’re still a young program, so that speaks volumes for us."
Mendez, who grew up playing soccer, didn’t think scholarship when she first hit the field as the team’s goalie when she was a freshman.
"Once I started playing at that level, I did start to think that there might be a possibility, that I might be good enough to play at the college level," Mendez said. "It was something I hoped for, now I got it."
McKee had his sights fixated on playing college basketball at an early age.
"I’m very excited," McKee said. "The coach said that I need to work hard this summer and get myself prepared. When I start practices with the team, he’s going to make the decision as to which team (varsity or junior varsity) I’ll play."
"Andy is one of those guys that put extra time in the gym," said Van Buren basketball coach Randy Loyd. "He’s a hard worker and is here every day. He was a very dependable player for us."
Both also have their sights set on attending medical school as well.
"One of the pre-med professors at Oklahoma Wesleyan has had a student not get into medical school," said McKee. "It’s one of the best pre-med programs and its basketball program is pretty good too."
Mendez’s focus will be general studies as she prepares for medical school and McKee aims to become a dentist.