Panther student-athletes Anneka Clark, Jaxon Fenn, Mason Johnson, Makenna Leik, Natalie Nusbaum, Derek Sonmore and Lauren Woodford participated in Signing Day on Wednesday, May 15 and committed to play their sport at the collegiate level.
“This is one of the best days in my job,” said athletic and activity director Will Wackman. “We’re honoring really, really good student-athletes who are going on to other endeavors and we’re just so proud of them.”
Coaches introduced each student-athlete and family, friends and teammates were in attendance to celebrate and support them as they signed National Letters of Intent. Learn more about the student-athletes below.
Anneka Clark, Northwestern College, Track and Field
Clark has been a part of the Panther track team and swimming team throughout her high school career. She runs the 100 meter and 200 meter in track and her best swimming event was the backstroke. Clark also participated in curling club for two years and choir, where she sang in vocal solo competitions and was named All-Conference her junior year.
"I am proud to be an SLP Panther," Clark said. "Even though I live in the Blaine school district, I choose to open enroll here. The intentionality of the teaching and coaching staff is amazing."
Clark is excited to join the Northwestern College Track and Field team next year. She chose Northwestern because its a smaller, Christian school that felt like home and the art program she is going into is outstanding.
Alannah Easter, North Central University, Volleyball
Easter was unable to attend signing day, but plans to attend North Central University next year to study American Sign Language and Business Administration, while participating in Jazz and String Ensemble and volleyball.
Easter has participated in a wide variety of Panther athletics and activities throughout her career, including numerous bands, pit orchestra, volleyball, softball, National Honors Society and Panther Mentors during her four years at Spring Lake Park High School (SLPHS). In volleyball she won the Panther Award and Academic All-State Award and was also nominated for the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) Triple A Award for excelling in the classroom, on the athletic field and in fine arts.
“Being part of a fun, loving and accepting community is what makes me proud to be an SLP Panther” Easter said. “Knowing teachers are willing to help students grow, not only academically, but as a person is the most unique and empowering part of SLP.”
Jaxon Fenn, Century Community College, Baseball
Fenn has filled the utility role for the Panthers the past few years and is hoping to play second base next year at Century Community College. His freshman year, Fenn earned MVP on the B-squad team and All-Conference Honorable Mention his junior year. Fenn is excited to play at Century because it’s a really good program that is close to home and it may give him a chance to possibly play at the Division I or II level after two years.
Mason Johnson, Concordia College-Moorhead, Basketball
Johnson is headed to Concordia College-Moorhead next year to continue his basketball career.
Makenna Leik, Miami University-Ohio, Figure Skating
Leik isn’t a traditional high school athlete, as she competes on the national level as a figure skater. During her skating career she has competed in eight Minnesota Skate Championships, six Regional Championships, three Sectional Championships and two U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships. She was the 2017 Minnesota State silver medalist at the senior level and this past winter her synchronized skating team, the Northernettes, won the 2019 Midwestern Sectional Championships, which qualified them for the National Championships.
At SLPHS, Leik has been involved with the Panther Mentor Program for two years and this year she is a house leader. She is also playing on the girls’ golf team this spring.
“I am proud to be a SLP Panther because of the amazing community at Spring Lake Park High School,” Leik said. “At Spring Lake Park, I feel motivated by those around me to do my very best.”
Leik will continue her academic and skating career at Miami University-Ohio. The RedHawks synchronized skating team is one of the best programs connected to a college and are the highest ranked collegiate team. The team Leik will skate on represents Team USA at the senior level and she will be competing at several international competitions.
Natalie Nusbaum, Dakota County Technical College, Softball
Nusbaum has played on the varsity Panther softball team for the past three years. After starting her junior season with an ankle injury that forced her to wear a boot, she worked hard to earn the most improved award. Nusbaum is a utility player, playing both infield and outfield, with her favorite positions being pitcher and second base.
Nusbaum also played basketball for three years and after an injury, chose to manage her sister’s 10th grade team this past winter. She is also a part of the SLPHS choir.
Next year, Nusbaum is headed to Dakota County Technical College, where she is excited to continue her softball and academic career. She was drawn to the perfect size campus and how friendly the staff were at Dakota County.
“The Dakota County Tech softball coach has coached both of my parents in the past, so I loved that as well,” Nusbaum said.
Derek Sonmore, St. Mary’s University, Baseball
Sonmore is a three-year varsity Panther Baseball starter and has played every position throughout his time, but is mainly a third baseman and pitcher. As a junior, he earned All-Conference Honorable Mention and Panther Best Pitcher Award. Sonmore is continuing his career at St. Mary’s University as a shortstop and pitcher because the coaches and players made him feel very welcome on his visits and he felt it was the best fit for his future.
Sonmore also played baseball with the Minnesota Blizzard and Minnesota Icemen Elite Traveling teams. He credits his success to Coach Bailey and said he wouldn’t be where he was today without him.
Lauren Woodford, Syracuse University, Volleyball
Woodford made the decision to graduate a year early from SLPHS and signed to continue her academic and volleyball career at Syracuse University. She has been a full-time PSEO (Post Secondary Enrollment Options) student through the University of Minnesota this school year after being a part of the Lighthouse School for gifted and insatiable learners since third grade. Lighthouse’s independent learning allowed Woodford to work at her own pace and gradually work ahead, so she began taking classes at SLPHS in seventh grade and completed all of her high school coursework by the end of her sophomore year.
SLPHS volleyball coach Joy Johnston said she was sad when Woodford called her to share the news that she wouldn’t be returning for her senior season, but praised the hard work and determination that Woodford shows on and off the court. Woodford broke a number of SLP Volleyball records during her years as a Panther, including the single season assists (899) and career assists (2,202) as a sophomore. She earned All-Conference and MVP in 2018 and All-Conference Honorable Mention in 2017. Woodford was named a Breakdown Sports MN Elite top 35 Underclassmen in 2016 and 2017 and Top 75 Juniors list in 2018. She also earned MN Break Down All-Section honors in 2017 and 2018.
Woodford chose Syracuse because of its top-ranked academics and engineering school, its diversity and the school spirit. She plans to major in bioengineering and is excited to help the Orange compete for an ACC championship.
“I love being able to represent Spring Lake Park Schools, as they have done so much for me and have given me the opportunities I have today,” Woodford said.
Best of luck to all our Panther athletes!