WEBB CITY, Mo. — With friends, family, teammates and coaches looking on, seven Webb City High School seniors made their college decisions official at a signing ceremony on Wednesday inside the Cardinal Dome.
Aubree Brouwer signed to swim at North Carolina State, while Makenzie Storm inked to join the women’s rowing team at Kansas State.
Sisters Peyton Hawkins (softball) and Riley Hawkins (track/cross country) both signed with Missouri Southern, while Emma Welch will play softball at Labette Community College.
Soccer standouts Anea Bemo and Tristan Barroeta both put pen to paper to attend William Jewell.
An elite swimmer who had many NCAA Division I offers, Brouwer is taking her talents to NC State.
“I have been working towards this for a long time, so it feels good to finally make it official,” Brouwer said. “I loved the atmosphere at NC State. It feels like a family. I had great conversations with the coaches and felt valued. The athletes on the team are extremely hard-working, but also a very fun group. Being able to swim at one of the fastest college programs in the nation is truly an honor. I can’t wait for the high level of competition that it will bring. I also love the city, Raleigh, and all of the things available there.”
Representing the Springfield Aquatics club team, Brouwer competed in the women’s 100-meter breaststroke and the 200-meter breaststroke at the U.S. Olympic Trials last summer.
Brouwer, who has trained year-round, has aspirations of competing at the Olympic Trials in the future.
“I’m thankful for my time with Springfield Aquatics these past couple of years and the opportunities it has given me,” she said. “I have grown so much from training with my teammates and my coach, Thomas Baumann.”
Brouwer has been swimming competitively since she was 6-years-old, getting her start with the Webb City-based Berzerker Swimming club team.
After competing in volleyball and swimming during her prep career, Storm will be joining K-State’s rowing program.
“I’m so excited that I get to go to such an amazing school and compete at a high level,” Storm said. “The new opportunity and challenge this presented was too good not to pursue. I went on an official visit and I felt like I fit in with the team very well and connected with the coaches. I am honored to be given this opportunity to try a new sport at this level and excited to see where I can go.”
Women’s rowing has been an NCAA Division I sport at Kansas State since the 1996-97 school year.
An all-state shortstop who played a key role in the Webb City softball program’s recent success, Peyton Hawkins is staying close to home to suit up for the Lions.
“I’ve had the goal of playing college softball for as long as I can remember,” Hawkins said. “Being able to play at the next level is big, but getting to be a Lion is even bigger.”
Hawkins noted she chose MSSU because it’s close to home and she felt a connection to the coaching staff and team members.
“Playing college softball has been a dream of mine since I started playing,” Hawkins said. “To be able to make that dream come true is a huge accomplishment. I had coaches and players push me everyday, so to see my hard work pay off is such a good feeling.”
In 2021, Hawkins hit .413 with team-highs of 45 hits, 34 runs scored and eight home runs to go with 32 RBI.
Just days after finishing eighth at the Class 4 state cross country meet, standout distance runner Riley Hawkins inked with MSSU.
“It really means a lot to be able to sign with Missouri Southern,” Hawkins said. “I’ve always dreamed of competing at the college level, so I’m glad to be able to have this opportunity, especially to be able to sign at the same school as my twin sister.
“I knew from the start I wanted to stay pretty close to home, but my main deciding factor was the team,” Hawkins added. “I met the girls and knew immediately that MSSU would be a great fit for me.”
Hawkins, who finished fourth at the conference and district meets as a senior, thanked her coaches and teammates for helping her progress into the runner she is today.
“I’ve had the privilege to be coached by Coach (Dustin) Miller, who has really helped shape me into the runner I am today,” she said. “I’ve also been blessed with amazing teammates who helped me along the way.”
Like Peyton Hawkins, Welch is an all-state performer who played a key role as the Webb City softball team earned a state runner-up finish last year and a district championship this season.
An outfielder, Welch is heading to Parsons, Kansas, to play for the Labette Cardinals.
“It is a dream come true,” Welch said of playing at the next level. “Everything felt just right at LCC. I have worked for this since little league and all the hard work is paying off. The girls were very welcoming (at LCC) and fun to be around. It felt like home.”
Welch noted playing for a successful program like Webb City was definitely beneficial.
“My time in high school put my goals into perspective, helped me grow and helped me achieve my goals,” she said. “Playing softball here shaped my work ethic and my love for the sport. I loved being a Cardinal so much I had to be a Cardinal for another two years.”
Welch, a center fielder who missed part of her senior season due to injury, hit .292 with 14 runs scored and 10 RBI this past fall.
A standout forward who scored 26 goals and had 10 assists last spring, Bemo played a big role as Webb City advanced to the quarterfinals of the state tourney for the first time in program history.
And ahead of her senior season, Bemo made her decision to attend William Jewell official.
“It’s really exciting to be able to play a sport that I love while making it official,” Bemo said. “I had some teammates that committed to this school and they really wanted me to check out the school. I went on a visit and really loved the campus. Ultimately, it was the head coach that was the deciding factor for me because he made me feel like I belonged there.”
Bemo, who has garnered multiple postseason accolades, including all-state recognition, noted she’s looking forward to the challenge of college soccer. She added her time in high school has helped her develop as a student-athlete.
“I’ve been able to develop grit, determination, time management and many other attributes that will help me in college,” she said.
Like Bemo, Barroeta is a soccer standout who decided on signing with William Jewell.
Barroeta, a midfielder and winger, said signing a letter of intent was a good feeling.
“I feel like everything I have done up to this point has been worth it,” he said. “I’m happy to make my family, especially my parents, proud. It’s only the first step in my college journey and I can’t wait for the opportunities that await. I just want to thank my parents, my sister, God and everyone that has helped me get to where I am today. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
William Jewell just felt right, Barroeta added.
“The coaching staff was amazing and the energy at practices and games was high,” he said, adding he was attracted to the campus setting as well. “All the guys were motivating and wanted me to be the best player I can be.”
Barroeta scored 29 goals and dished out 10 assists as a senior for Nick Harmon’s Cardinals. Barroeta added signing to play at the next level has been a longtime goal.
“It’s hard to explain with words what it means to me,” he said. “All the hard work I’ve put in has paid off and gotten me here. I know that God has a plan for me and I’m looking forward to this path I’m on. Being part of Webb City Soccer taught me a lot. It showed me how to work hard and be patient. It taught me about values and work ethic. Webb City isn’t a big soccer town, but I have learned that it doesn’t matter what you have, it matters what you do with what you have.”