For many students fielding athletic scholarship offers, the National Letter of Intent (NLI) Signing Day, which took place this year on Nov. 13, is a monumental event. Though the students would have already verbally committed to their schools, signing the NLI makes it official. From Kaiser, Lady Cougar varsity soccer players Madison Mora and Alyssa Leong signed to Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and Concordia University respectively. They were among over 60 student-athletes from Hawaii who signed NLI’s.
Mora, who plays as a goalie, had previously been looking to Division 2 schools, but scholarship pickings were slim, so she decided to instead look to Division 3. That was when a coach from Saint Mary’s reached out to her with a near full-tuition scholarship offer. “The next day after we talked, I bought a ticket [to Minnesota]…and I verbally committed there,” Mora said. She liked the school’s connection with the Mayo Clinic due to her aspirations in the medical field, and how playing on a Division 3 team would allow her to focus more on her academics. Mora is looking to get her undergraduate at Saint Mary’s before continuing on her Physician’s Assistant (PA) path at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
Leong was recruited by Concordia University as a Division 2 athlete. She also received a nearly full-ride scholarship offer. They recruited her to play defense, though she had played offense more frequently, evidence of the transferability of her talents. Like Mora, she also has aspirations in the medical field and plans to major in nursing. The school itself is also only about an hour’s drive away from her sister’s school, so she will be able to remain close to family despite being hundreds of miles away from Hawaii. Leong says she is looking forward to Oregon’s vibrant greenery, “the food… and meeting new people,” at Concordia.
The NLI may just be a signature on a piece of paper, but for student-athletes like Leong and Mora, it is their future. “I am so blessed to have the opportunity to further my soccer career at the collegiate level. I couldn’t have done it without my coaches, teammates, friends, and family,” Leong said.
By Haley Lenander