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A long time coming
Ciara Bryan signs letter of intent to play softball for UGA
Ciara puts on her official UGA hat after signing her letter of intent. From left to right (bottom to top): Miguel Bryan, Ciara Bryan, Naomi Bryan, Sydney Bryan. Tracey Curtis (AD), John Ellenberg (principal), Nikkita Warfield (Porterdale principal), Ashley Coles (NHS head coach), Greg Cowan (former Newton coach).

Friends and family of Ciara Bryan packed the Newton auditorium to celebrate Bryan’s softball signing with the University of Georgia. Before the ink hit the paper, some of Bryan’s friends went on stage with loving words for the Newton senior, forcing tears of joy to fall from Bryan’s face. The highlight of the ceremony followed as Bryan signed her letter of intent, making it official that she would be a softball player for UGA beginning in Fall 2016.

“It’s been a long time coming. All the hard work she’s put in has finally paid off. Today’s the day,” Miguel Bryan, Ciara’s father, said before the ceremony.

Ciara told everyone in attendance that she wanted them to come and watch her play in school. The crowd responded with a collective uproar that likely meant of course they will. The support was overwhelming, so much so that Bryan teared up.

“I was really sad because this is my last year of high school. I’m not gonna see all of these people probably ever again and it just made me happy to know that I ended on a good note,” Ciara said.

“I’m filled with joy and happiness because it’s really been four long years. It was freshman year and now it’s senior year and I can finally sign the papers saying that I can be a collegiate athlete at the University of Georgia so I’m really happy and excited,” she added.

Ashley Coles, Newton softball head coach, has watched Ciara over the years and she’s amazed at the player/person Ciara has become.

“It’s incredible to watch her grow. I actually saw her when she was a freshman. I’ve been with her all four years, but just to watch her grow and change on the ball field, but also in life. Becoming a young woman, making good decisions, doing the right things on and off the field. It’s exciting to watch,” Coles said.

“Athletically obviously she’s gotten stronger, faster, more sure of herself, and played more ball. All those things are very important, but really it’s just the leadership qualities she’s exhibited and doing so well in the classroom, growing to be a young woman.”

Although anybody who has watched Ciara play would tell you this, Coles says Bryan’s best on-the-field attribute is her speed and competitiveness.

That competitiveness shined through the happiness after Ciara’s signing as she declared that her first goal in her freshman year at UGA is to start. Bryan communicated that desire to her coaches over the phone Wednesday night.
“They’re really excited and they hope that I can prove to them that I will have an opportunity to start as a freshman,” Ciara said. “They have some players who start and are leaving to graduate so that’s an open spot, but I still gotta work hard and prove myself that I can start.”

“My first goal is to earn a position to start. I don’t wanna get redshirted. I wanna start and show everyone how good I am, but I know I gotta work hard. I gotta do it during the day, the night if I have to,” she said. “I want to get a lot of stolen bases. I know it’s going to be difficult, but I wanna do it.”

Ciara added that she also wants to get a good number of RBI and possibly a few home runs.

Bryan has been playing softball for years. Her father got her into it at a young age and Ciara took the sport, but her journey wasn’t easy.

“My journey was rough. It was really hard. It was rough. I wasn’t where I was at then compared to where I’m at now, but that’s because I worked really hard,” Bryan said. “It was a struggle hitting because I wasn’t always left-handed I was a right-handed batter so coming up left-handed I had to really focus on paying attention and hitting off the tee. Just focusing off the tee because the tee was a really good drill for me, but now I think the journey was worth it.”