Fall athletes commit to collegiate athletics


David Shutts

Senior and Rice commit Jaivir Pande addresses an audience after signing his National Letter of Intent.

Ian Overman and George Kinder

Hundreds of voices filled the Melcher Gym as students, family and faculty filled the bleachers to witness the fall signings of future collegiate athletes. Senior athletes Jaivir Pande, Cade Duncan, Sydney Smith, Rocky McCauley, Kristin Sims, Lia Bonet and Macy McCallum committed to playing at the collegiate level and sat down at their respective booths as they announced their commitment among friends and family. 

Javir Pande

Pande, who is committed to Rice University for golf, experienced a rollercoaster of emotions as he walked up to the podium to give his commitment speech. 

“I was a bit nervous about standing in front of all my peers and having to give a speech,” Pande said. “The idea of starting college is also very daunting but at the same time exciting.”

Pande has had a love and desire for the game of golf ever since he was young. Playing golf at the next level was certainly a major goal of his, but his love for the game is what drives him to become better every day. 

“I really only started thinking about playing college golf when I was about 12 or 13,” Pande said. “I started playing tournaments when I was six and the thing that drove me at the time was just my love of the game, competing and constantly practicing to be the best player I could be.” 

Macy McCallum 

McCallum is ecstatic about her commitment to play soccer at Lehigh University. She has been fueled to always improve by her desire for competition, and she attributes her love for the game to her competitive nature. 

“I love winning and competing, and you have to be competitive to play soccer,” McCallum said. 

She credits all the coaches and teammates that have helped her along her journey to the next level, saying they inspire and push her to accomplish her goals. 

“I was excited to share with everyone how I got to where I am today and to thank everyone who helped me along the way,” McCallum said.

Rocky McCauley

McCauley, who has been playing lacrosse since she was in the fourth grade, is fulfilling her dream of playing at the college level by committing to Vanderbilt University. She’s known from a very young age that her dream was playing college lacrosse. 

“I knew that I wanted to pursue lacrosse in college very early on,” she said. “I started playing in fourth grade and realized it was what I really wanted to pursue in sixth grade.”

McCauley initially fell in love with the sport to release energy and have fun. She loved the competitive aspect of the game and the bond she created with her teammates.

“I loved competing and getting an opportunity to improve every day,” McCauley said. “I also had amazing teammates who made me look forward to practice.” 

Lia Bonet

Bonet is committed to playing soccer at Houston Christian University and was extremely nervous coming into Melcher Gym the morning of the signings. However, after seeing all of her supporters, she felt right at home. 

“When I went into the gym to set up my table, I felt a pit in my stomach after I saw the podium in the middle of the gym facing the bleachers,” Bonet said. “But once the event started and I saw everyone who came to support, I was super excited.” 

Bonet recounted that her favorite moment playing soccer at Kinkaid came in her freshman year by beating Episcopal in the SPC tournament.

“The game itself was lots of fun because it was my first SPC match, but I would also want to relive it because it was our last game with those seniors and Coach Shotz,” Bonet said. “It was a very bittersweet moment because we were able to beat Episcopal, but that being our last game also meant lots of change and it was sad to see the seniors go,” Bonet said. 

Cade Duncan

Duncan has always dreamed of swimming at the highest level and is committed to Northwestern University. Duncan hopes to swim in the Olympics and knows that college is the next step toward his dream.  

“I grew a dream to become a top-level swimmer, an Olympic gold medalist and a world record holder,” Duncan said. “To pursue this dream, I knew that I would have to swim in college and possibly professionally.”

Duncan loves the friends and relationships he made from swimming. His teammates and work ethic pushed him to succeed and commit to swimming at the next level.

“The connections and friends that I made along with the competition made me love the sport. Making friends with my teammates, coaches, or other athletes at swim meets, and testing how far I could push myself made me love the sport. The desire to be better, the work behind it, the perfection needed; I grew to love it all,” Duncan said.

Sydney Smith

Smith, who is also committed to swimming at Northwestern along with Duncan, was extremely excited to join the Northwestern family and complete one of her biggest dreams. 

“I was really thrilled to sign; I committed over a year ago and couldn’t wait to officially be a part of the Northwestern family,” she said. “My family and friends were all there to support me, and after such a long journey from lower school until now, it felt extremely gratifying and exciting to finally accomplish one of my longtime goals.” 

Smith fell in love with swimming at an early age; she loved the bond created with her teammates and how they pushed her to always compete and do her best. 

“The atmosphere and environment of being surrounded by my teammates every day and getting through a hard practice made me fall in love with swimming,” Smith said. “Even though many of the sets we do are very challenging and I sometimes feel like I’m one wave away from drowning, the friendships and memories that you build with your teammates are just incredible.” 

Kristin Sims 

Sims, who is committed to playing lacrosse at Delaware State University, fell in love with the game the first time she stepped on the field. She loved the competitive nature of the game and knew it was a path she wanted to pursue.

“I knew I wanted to pursue lacrosse when I was in eighth grade,” she said. “I fell in love with lacrosse when I first set foot on the field of my first middle school game.”

She had been waiting her whole life for this moment and was ecstatic when the day of her signing came. She knew that speaking in front of a big crowd would be daunting, but she was excited to share this moment with friends and family. 

“I was both very nervous but very excited,” she said. “It was nerve-wracking to speak in front of a lot of people about something personal, but it was exciting because I was able to share a huge accomplishment.”