AUSTIN PLACE, Edmond Santa Fe
* College: Buffalo
* Sport: Soccer
Austin Place thought he was all set to head north to Western Michigan and play soccer.
Then, the Edmond Santa Fe defender decided to head a little farther north.
When the coach who recruited him at Western Michigan left to take the head coaching job at the University of Buffalo, Place decided to give the program in upstate New York near Lake Ontario a chance. He made a visit a few weeks ago.
“And I absolutely loved it,” Place said. “The day I got back ... I committed immediately.”
Now, he's headed to Buffalo, a city that gets more than 80 inches of snow annually to play soccer.
“I'm not one to be like, ‘I need it hot or I need it cold,'” Place said. “I'll adapt. Whenever I went up there, it wasn't too bad. I brought everything I possibly could ... but it wasn't too bad. I guess I'll survive four years.”
SOPHIA BRAZIL, Deer Creek
*College: Oklahoma Christian
Deer Creek's Sophia Brazil has a great example on what it takes to make it as a college athlete.
Brazil's stepmom is former Oklahoma softball player Sandy Ochoa, who played for the Sooners in the late '80s.
Brazil's talents, though, are on the soccer field. On Wednesday, she signed her letter of intent with Oklahoma Christian.
“She said it's a great way to go through college,” Brazil said. “Being an athlete and getting scholarships, it helps you financially but it's a great experience in general. It prepares you for life working with a team and stuff.”
Brazil, a forward, began playing soccer at the age of 3, and she instantly fell in love with the sport.
Her parents attempted to have her play other sports, but she always returned to soccer.
“At a young age we just tried to teach her the discipline, the dedication, the desire to go above and beyond what everybody else was doing,” Ochoa said.
It was a smart choice.
Brazil was part of last season's Class 5A championship team, which had four players sign to play collegiately.
She was the lone signee this season, though. And she was prepared for it.
*College: Weatherford (Texas) College
Norman North's DJ Gasso has been through a lot during his high school career.
He suffered a torn patellar tendon early last baseball season after developing tendinitis in both knees during the previous football season.
Nearly a year later, though, the pain he went through to get back first on the football field and now on the baseball field seems worth it after he signed Wednesday to play baseball at Weatherford (Texas) College.
“It's a relief,” Gasso, the son of Oklahoma softball coach Patty Gasso, said. “Growing up, you think about wanting to play in college and to get a chance to do that, I'm really excited.”
Gasso wasn't the only Timberwolves player signing with Weatherford. Luke Jones also signed with the Coyotes.
“We've been playing together since we were in fifth grade,” Gasso said. “I'm going with my best friend. It's great that we get to stick together in college.”
*College: Seminole State
Southmoore's Braeden Bradshaw plays quite a few sports.
“Basketball, track, cheer and gymnastics,” Bradshaw said. “I've done just about everything besides golf, tennis and lacrosse.”
But there was little doubt that she was going to be a softball player as well.
“I really don't think I had a choice,” Bradshaw said. “It's a family thing.”
Her father, Chris, played on Oklahoma's 1994 national championship baseball team.
Wednesday, Braeden signed to play softball at Seminole State.
“It's a lot to take in,” she said. “It's a big step but I'm excited for it.”
Bradshaw settled on Seminole State last summer and even though some four-year schools tried to recruit her, she was set on her destination.
“I knew that's where I wanted to be all along,” she said.