Branching Out

Liberty athletes commit to various schools to further their career and play at the next level


Sruthi Ramesh

Senior David Richard runs the ball against Washington. Richard had a total of 331 yards this past season.

Ally Schniepp, Sports Editor

David Richard

Senior David Richard committed to Division two McKendree University in Lebanon, Illinois. Richard committed to be a receiver for McKendree’s football team after completing a total of 331 yards this season with 190 receiving yards. 

“Not a lot of people have the opportunity to play at the next level, so I’m grateful for the opportunity I have to keep playing,” Richard said. 

Richard has been playing football at Liberty for all four seasons of his high school career and he was moved up to varsity his sophomore year. Richard caught and scored the only offensive touchdown of the game against Timberland, who the program had never beat before. After this touchdown, Richard found a place on the field for offensive yards and more touchdowns to come in his future years in the program. 

“I grew up in a football family, so I’ve known ever since I was a little kid that I wanted to play football,” Richard said. 

Richard’s family was a big influence on him and they have supported him throughout every loss and every victory.

“My mother, she’s been with me every single step of the way,” Richard said in regards to who his biggest supporter has been. “She’s been there for my lows and highs and in-betweens.”

Richard is honored to be able to take this next step in his football career at McKendree University and is excited to see where this road will take him.

Senior Adrian Lee dunks the ball while the crowd roars in celebration in the game against South. (Sruthi Ramesh)

Adrian Lee

Senior Adrian Lee committed to East-West University Chicago to play basketball. Lee has only been playing basketball for five years, so he’s looking forward to furthering his game in college.

“I just started playing in eighth grade so going to play at the next level after just five years is a great feeling,” Lee said. 

Lee originally had little to no interest in playing basketball, but a friend of his convinced him to go out for the team in eighth grade, and the rest is history. Due to his friendship, he fell in love with basketball and has many open doors going forward.
“My friend Kevin, me and him got shots up everyday after school. He was the friend that convinced me to play,” Lee said. 

East-West is a NAIA school, and Lee plans to use this to his advantage and play as hard as he can to excel his college seasons. 

“I’m going there to hopefully put myself at a higher level and play at a university,” Lee said. 

Senior Adrienne Rockett competes at a meet earlier this season. (Emily Barnett)

Adrienne Rockette

Adrienne Rockette committed to Missouri Baptist University for cross country and track to run mid-distance and long-distance events. Rockette has been officially running since eighth grade, but her love of running started in elementary school. 

“Girls on the Run,” Rockette said of how she started running. “They have 5Ks at the end of every year, and I enjoyed running the 5Ks, so I thought cross country would be the same.”

Girls on the Run is a non-profit organization that inspires girls like Rockette to pursue their love for running. Since then, Rockette has competed at state in the 4×800 event her junior year placing fourth and her freshman year earning the first place award in the event. 

Going forward, Rockette is enthusiastic about going to Missouri Baptist and starting her college cross country and track career. 

“I’m really excited about it, and clearly I’ve never done it before, but I’m excited to see what will come,” Rockette said.

Senior Alex Fillner prepares to run a route in the Pink Out game earlier this season. (Sruthi Ramesh)

Alex Fillner

Senior Alex Fillner is committed to Missouri Baptist University to further his football career as a receiver. The NAIA school plays mostly DII schools, and Fillner is excited to go to the next level of competition. Fillner started playing football in second grade and has been passionate about the sport since the moment he stepped on the field.

“My dad told me I should play a sport, and it was football season. I went out to my first practice and I didn’t really know much about football, but I fell in love with it from day one, and I’ve been playing ever since,” Fillner said.

Fillner’s family has been a major influence on him and his football career. His mom and dad have been some of his biggest supporters throughout his entire career and have pushed him to be the best player he can be. 

“Both of my parents have helped me so much throughout little league, middle school, high school, even the recruiting process,” Fillner said. “I don’t think I could say I would’ve had as many offers as I did because they helped get my name out and they helped me get exposure to coaches.”

Fillner’s love for football has motivated him to play for Liberty all four years of high school, getting pulled up to varsity as a freshman and making varsity his sophomore year. His senior season, he ran 386 yards total even after playing the first few games on the defensive side of the field. 

“Start early,” Fillner said as a word of advice. “It’s truly a process and you don’t see results on the first day. It might take a week, it might take a month, it might take three months, you just gotta stay on course and stick with it.”

Because Fillner stuck with football and worked at his skills, he will be able to play at the next level for Missouri Baptist and keep improving his game.