Originally Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012, 10:43 pm
Last Updated: Nov. 15, 2012, 11:45 pm

Back to the grindstone for local signees

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By Steve Tappa, stappa@qconline.com

Photo: Nicholas Holstein
Alleman High School's Cody Sedlock pitches in Friday's Class 2A semifinal of the IHSA State Tournament in Peoria against Herscher High School.
Photo: Mike Bradley
Moline's Jordon de los Reyes swings during the State Semifinal against Bartlett High School in East Peoria on Friday, June 8th, 2012. Bartlett defeated Moline 7-3 to advance to the state final on Saturday.
More photos from this shoot
Photo: Paul Colletti
Moline's Matt Brill rounds third base before scoring for the Maroons against Normal Community in Moline on Monday, April 2, 2012.

The pomp and circumstance of national signing day again included balloons sporting the high school's colors, attire from the college securing the talent, and popping flashbulbs from proud parents.

However, after National Letters of Intent were ceremoniously signed Wednesday and the local media and well-wishers were long gone, a local trio of college-bound diamond stars celebrated the big day by doing what got them there in the first place.

"I'm changing to go work out in the gym after this,'' Alleman's Cody Sedlock said, moments after putting pen to paper to accept a baseball scholarship to the University of Illinois.

Same thing across town for workout buddy Matt Brill, who is headed to another Division I baseball school, Appalachian State.

At least Brill's Moline classmate, Jordan de los Reyes, had a post-basketball practice party with her fellow hoopsters, sharing a cookie cake her mom bought for the signing ceremony at Wharton Field House.

"This is a great day, and a dream come true,'' de los Reyes said after joining three other Moline products in the Illinois State softball program. "But getting a scholarship doesn't mean the work is over. Instead, it's only starting.''

Such torch-passing moments are an annual part of any NCAA signing period, with this one offering athletes from every sport, except football and soccer, a week-long opportunity to announce their college choices.

Another conundrum? Signing relieves the pressures of the recruiting process, but in turn ignites greater expectations for those inking.

"You don't have to worry anymore which recruiter is watching, and if you're doing what they came to see,'' said Sedlock, who turned down offers from Notre Dame and Bradley to join Moline's Thomas Lindauer and Assumption's Willie Argo as the third local prep signed by the Illini in four seasons.

"But people are still watching -- pro scouts, your teammates, your coaches, your family -- and now they look for you to do more, be a better leader, work a little harder, carry yourself a little better.''

It's the Spider-Man motto: With great power comes great responsibility.

"There are going to be people in the stands and from other teams that go, `Oh, that kid's going D-1?' Let's see what he's got,'' said Brill, who committed to Appalachian State in late September, two weeks after an official visit, and a month after the school first saw him at the Legion World Series.

"But what I have to do is block everything out and just play my game as relaxed as possible. I can't focus on what people think of me. I just need to stay even-keeled and do what I do.''

Indeed, that's the daily challenge of the game they've chosen. Unlike most every other sport, taking the intensity level up a notch more often than not leads to disappointment on the diamond.

"You have to be patient and let the game come to you,'' said de los Reyes, an all-state slugger who also received recruiting interest from Illinois, Bradley and Eastern Illinois."You can't get anxious when you're up to bat. You need to relax. If you're always worried about messing up, you're probably going to mess up.

"(Signing) does add pressure, but you have to get away from the idea you need to show that you're a Division I athlete, especially on every pitch. Even good hitters make mistakes. You have to allow yourself to fail, as long as you're going to learn from it.''

De los Reyes dealt with that pressure last spring, committing to the Redbirds before the season. Sedlock and Brill said they are ready for that same challenge when the baseball season rolls around this spring.

"Baseball's the only game where you fail seven out of 10 times and make it to the Hall of Fame,'' said Sedlock, an all-stater who was discovered by his beloved Illini after pitching in last spring's state semifinals for the second-place Pioneers."In this game, you have to learn to deal with successes and failures. You learn how to respond to both.''

The final irony in all of this? The response is the same to both. Back to work. Just like Wednesday.
Know of a local athlete committing to play sports in college? Share the good news with us at tappa@qconline.com.

Where they're going

-- Athletes from area schools and conferences signing with colleges this school term:

@ Brinn Bell, Rock Island (Illinois St.)
Matt Brill, Moline (Appalaichan St.)
Derek Burkamper, Muscatine (Nebraska)
@ Seth Fuller, Moline (Northern Illinois)
x-Jake Scudder, Rock Island (Iowa Western)
Cody Sedlock, Alleman (Illinois)

Megan Butler, Muscatine (Upper Iowa (D-2))
Jordan de los Reyes, Moline (Illinois St.)
Kaitlyn Finneran, Morrison (Drake)
Chloe Miller, Pleasant Valley (Wisconsin)
Hope Scheffert, Dav. North (Iowa St.)

Billy Daniel, Assumption (Truman State)
Leti Lerma, Muscatine (Bradley)
Kaycee Kallenberger, Pleasant Valley (Eastern Illinois)

Kyle Springer, Assumption (Indiana)

Haden Calegan, Muscatine (Pittsburgh)
Travis Greenwald, Muscatine (Denver)
Keanu Interone, Sterling (Utah)
Gabby Stecker, Pleasant Valley (Illinois)

Anna Cullinan, Pleasant Valley (Western Illinois)

Jennifer Rahn, Sterling (Iowa)

x-Derrick Willies, Rock Island (Iowa)

*-Junior college transfer from Black Hawk; @-Transfer from another college; x-Note: 2012-13 verbal commitments; #-Note: 2013-14 verbal commitments.