HARDIN VALLEY — Three Hardin Valley Academy student athletes will pursue their respective sports in college.
They made it official at a signing ceremony in the school’s auditorium on Wednesday, April 27, in front of friends, family and teammates.
Tristan Neilson, a center on HVA’s boys basketball team, will play at Maryville College. Emily Stone, a guard for Hardin Valley’s girls basketball team, will move on to the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Kentucky.
Football player Isaac Aguero will also head to the Bluegrass State as he signed a National Letter of Intent to play at Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia.
Neilson, who had some breakout games for the Hawks last season, said that he wanted to stay close to home and noted that Maryville was a good fit for him.
“It was a beautiful campus,” Neilson said. “The thing that really appealed to me was the coaching staff. The academics are always important.”
Neilson, who will enter Maryville as a biology major with intentions of going on to pre-med, said that it was important for him to stay close to home.
“My family members have always been my biggest supporters and it will be good to have them at those games.
“I’m going to be about 30 minutes away from home and it’s nice to be able to stay close.”
Former Hawks coach Keith Galloway, who mentored Neilson before resigning recently, said that Neilson will be successful both in the classroom and on the hardwood.
“Tristan has the second most blocks in school history,” Galloway said. “He’s a great student who exemplifies what it means to be a student-athlete.
“It will be a perfect fit for him at Maryville.”
Stone, meanwhile, played a key role in the Hawks’ run in the Region 2-AAA Tournament in 2016 and coach Jennifer Gallo-way said that she’ll have a successful career for the Patriots.
“They’re getting a great player but they’re also getting an even better person,” Jennifer Gallo-way said of Stone. “She’s not only a good player. She’s a wonderful person.
“She’s liked and respected by her peers.”
While in Williamsburg, Stone will pursue a degree in Physical Education.
“I want to be a P.E. teacher and eventually work my way up to become a high school coach,” Stone said.
Like Neilson, Stone was im-pressed with the campus and the program at her soon-to-be college home.
“I just fell in love with the program there,” Stone said. “The coach played there and she came back to coach.
“She’s been there for 17 years and that shows me that she has a love for and dedication to the program.
“It’s a wonderful campus there and I love the coaching staff. Everybody just really made me feel at home.”
It was also important for Stone to stay close to Knox County.
“I love my hometown,” she said. “I wanted to be close to home but I also wanted to be far enough away so I could be on my own.Aguero leaves HVA as one of the school’s most decorated football players.
“Isaac is a two-time all region player and he’s our first [Class] 6A all-state player, Hawks football coach Wes Jones said.
“We’re happy to see him continue his career at Lindsey Wilson College.”
Aguero said he looks forward to a successful run with the Blue Raiders.
“It’s a winning program up there and the coaching staff was great,” he said. “I took a few visits there and I really liked it.
“I wanted to be kind of close to home and this was the perfect distance for me.
“The academics are great there and I really think that I’m going to enjoy it.”
Aguero said he will major in Sports Science and hopes to become an athletic trainer.