BRAD ROBICHAUX — 17 examples of hard work paying off for student athletes

Published 12:07 am Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Four more joined the growing list of student athletes who earned the privilege to move on to the next level.

PNG’s Josh Patteson, Trey Lisauckis, Jarrett Caillier and Caison Denzlinger signed their letters of intent to play football at their respective universities last week. Patteson is heading to the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Lisauckis to Trinity University, Caillier to the University of Arkansas at Monticello and Denzlinger to Howard Payne University. Fellow PNG football player Jaylen Garth signed to the University of Texas in Austin last December.

They join fellow area football players Evan Kelly, Jatavian Neal and Cam Smith of Memorial High School, who all signed on National Signing Day Feb. 5.

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Kelly is playing for Texas A&M-Kingsville while Neal will be going to Angelo State University and Smith to Henderson State University in Arkansas.

The football players aren’t alone, either. Two Nederland softball players also put pen to paper earlier this year. Chaelyn Esquivel signed to play softball for Lamar State College Port Arthur, and Shelby Schexnayder signed with Central Christian College in Kansas.

PNG’s Maylin Louvier and Cameron Niedenthal both will join Esquivel at Lamar State Port Arthur, having signed their letters in December.

From PNG’s baseball team, Khristian Curtis signed with Texas A&M and Carson Roccaforte is heading to The University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

In basketball, Mollee Priddy from PNG signed with Trinity University in December as well. In November last year, Nederland’s Hayden Hefner signed for Texas A&M, and Memorial’s Kenneth Lofton Jr. committed to Louisiana Tech.

If you’ve been counting, that’s 17 who have taken the big step to play at the college level.

Memorial athletic director Brian Morgan said more are likely to be joining them but are weighing their options to make the best choice.

“I did not want them to rush a decision and a year later have them look back regretting on it,” Morgan said on during Memorial’s National Signing Day ceremony for Kelly, Neal and Smith. “I probably appreciate them having some maturity to do that and not get caught up in the hype of today, but we’ll make sure to take care of them when it’s time.”

This achievement isn’t trivial. These young men and women earned one of the greatest opportunities available through sheer hard work and healthy doses of determination. I’ve had the opportunity to talk with most of these fine folks, and they deserve every bit of the success they’ve worked for. More than once have these kids talked about the extra work they’ve put into improving their skills, or the challenges they’ve faced with taking up leadership roles on their teams, or the work they still have to do to get their games to the level they want.

It’s so easy to get distracted, or disheartened, or lose hope in continuing the struggle to be better. Nothing compares with seeing your own results, but if you haven’t seen any recently, look to these 17 students as examples of what can be done with perseverance and gumption.

I’m proud of all of them and wish them the best of luck.

Brad Robichaux is a reporter for The Port Arthur News. He can be reached at