Courtesy of Sedalia School District 200 With her parents, Kim and Rob Toops watching, Smith-Cotton senior Megan Toops signs a letter of intent to play soccer for State Fair Community College. Many S-C athletes are continuing their athletic careers at SFCC.

In recent years, numerous Smith-Cotton athletes have followed the footsteps of the ones before them when it comes to choosing a college, opting to stay home at State Fair Community College. Many factors go into their decisions.

According to SFCC Athletic Director Darren Pannier, State Fair stands out to S-C athletes due to the opportunities that it can create.

“SFCC is a great two-year college for those who want to start building their academics and continue playing sports. Playing at SFCC, the student athlete has a chance to play in front of their parents, grandparents, family, and friends,” he said.

Pannier also believes many SFCC programs emphasize home-grown talent,

“We have the priority to recruit locally; the more local athletes you can attain, sometimes the smoother the transition for the team. The local student athletes know the layout of the land,” he said.

S-C Class of 2019 graduate Carin Whittal is a member of the women's soccer team at SFCC. Different factors went into her decision,

“College soccer has always been my dream and I was finally going to be able to achieve that, SFCC offered me a scholarship, and A+ also played a factor. Money is a huge factor when choosing a college,” Whittal said.

S-C senior girls soccer player Megan Toops also plans to continue her academic and athletic career at SFCC.

“I chose SFCC because I feel like it was the best fit for me,” she said. A+ also played a role in Toops’s decision. “Although I do have a scholarship, A+ covers me for two years, completely free; I wanted to go to SFCC for two years, use my A+ and save my money,” Toops said.

SFCC sophomore and former S-C Tiger Brice Pannier continued his baseball career and education at SFCC, and had many different factors that went into him selecting a school.

“I chose SFCC because it was the right fit for me personally. I knew I had a good chance of coming in and starting, and that was the biggest factor for me. I wanted to go somewhere and play rather than sit for two years and gain no experience at some other college,” Brice said.

A+ also played a large role in Brice’s decision.

“Considering that baseball only has 11.2 scholarships per team and most money goes to pitching, I didn’t want to go into debt just to play a sport,” he said.

A common goal for these athletes has been to move on after State Fair and at least make it to a four-year university as a student. “I wanted to start at a small school and transfer to a larger one and continue my education,” Toops said.

Whittal also hopes to continue her schooling after her two years at SFCC.

“Community college is a great way to transition into university. You don’t realize how much stress and responsibility it takes to go to college until you get there,” she said.

Jeffrey Goodson is a student at Smith-Cotton High School.

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