By Greg Ritchie
LOVELADY – Lovelady High School Senior Haven Prager made it official, signing to play and study at Southern Arkansas University (SAU) at a signing ceremony at Lovelady High School Wednesday, Jan. 18.
The university, located in Magnolia, Arkansas is a small school with an aggressive sports and academic program and a little over 4,000 students. The school is located about four hours from Houston County.
Prager’s family, team members, friends and supporters came out to the event to congratulate her. Lovelady Independent School District (LISD) Athletic Director Will Kirchhoff and Superintendent Wendy Tullos were also on hand along with LISD High School Principal Jo Beth Martinez.
The Messenger recently reported LISD Senior Kylie Pugh will also be attending SAU to throw the discus so the school will have a healthy dose of the Lovelady spirit and athletic competitiveness.
Prager said she was proud to sign with the school and be able to continue to play a game she has played since she was eight years old.
“It is something I have really been looking forward to for a long time,” Prager said. “I really love the school and love what they do and what they’re about. I am super excited to be able to go there and play the game that I love and go to school there.”
Prager was first baseman for the LISD Softball Team, although she also enjoys playing outfield. She began playing this summer in the Nitro Softball League to keep her skills sharp.
The Lovelady Lions Softball team was this year the Class AA State Runner-up and the first ever team in Lovelady Softball history to reach the State of Texas Class AA State Championship Game. The squad, including Prager, were presented with the keys to the city of Lovelady at the time.
The Lovelady City Proclamation at the time praised not only the young ladies but “Head Coach Jordyn Hester and Assistant Coaches Peyton Hoffman and Kollyn McWhinney who coached, trained, mentored and taught all members of the softball team and carried out successful game plans and strategies throughout the 2022 softball season with the help and support of manager Chelsea Butler.”
Prager and her family said the school attracted them because it is not so far from “home,” the fact that it is a beautiful campus with a good sports program and the fact that Prager can still experience a small town atmosphere while studying and playing. She plans to study kinesiology to do pediatric physical therapy.
Prager’s father Roan Prager told The Messenger, “She is a very smart, hard working young lady with a great humbleness as a young person. When she makes her mind up, she may let you think you’ve got her approval on an idea. But you’re not changing her mind unless she sees it work. She also loves to sing and can play the guitar better than she thinks!”
Prager was praised by all present for her dedication to the game and for the hard work she puts in behind the scenes. Prager herself had wise advice for any young people wanting to follow in her footsteps.
“Just do what you love!” Prager said. “I got burned out for a little bit but I kind of fell back in love with it eventually after I took a little break. Just make sure you’re doing what you love and don’t do it because of your parents or other people. Do it because you love it – because that’s what makes it fun. That’s what makes it worth it.”
Congratulations to another young person from Lovelady sports going on to bigger and greater things and representing the best of Houston County to the rest of the world.
Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]