Neosho senior Brooklynn Hughes, who played a key role on the Lady Wildcats’ first-ever district championship team two seasons ago, became the latest player from that group to continue her academic and athletic career at the next level when she signed her letter of intent Wednesday with NCAA Division II Missouri Southern.

Neosho head coach Steve Schnackenberg talked about Hughes and the strong first impression she made on the coach during her freshman season.

“I know this has been a goal of Brooklynn’s for a long time,” Schnackenberg said. “She’s definitely made it clear that this is where she wants to go in her soccer career and I’m proud of her for doing this. Her coming out moment was immediately. She showed up her freshman year. We kinda had to entice her to come out. She hadn’t played soccer in a few years and she was a little nervous about it. On the first day of practice, she showed us how hard she’s going to work. Getting more reps than most of the people on the field just because she’s working so hard.

“We had a position come open and so Coach (Matt Hixson) and I, it was our first choice to go to Brooklynn to see if she could play that. Immediately, she showed us that she was capable of playing that outside back. She just said ‘Coach, What do I need to work on?’ Day after day, there was Brooklynn working on those things.

“Next thing you know, she turned into an all-district player her freshman year and that followed through in her sophomore and junior year playing outside mid, playing outside forward. Always coming in to say, ‘What do I need to do to play those positions and get better to help the team?’ I know that will carry over in college and so she’s going to be successful there. I’m proud of you.”

The Lady Lions finished 7-8-3 overall and 3-6-2 in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association this past fall under head coach Chris McNaughton.

“He’s a great coach, it’s a great school, and it’s a great environment,” Hughes said. “It’s one of the best schools for my major. It’s amazing. It’s a dream come true.

“Yeah, I think it really was (a relief), because there’s a lot of anxiousness and a lot of anticipation. Once you sign, you feel a lot better. I wasn’t for sure, but I definitely wanted to (play college sports).”

The Lady Wildcats open their 2019 season March 19 at home against Hillcrest.