KENEDY — A pair of athletes who brought success to Kenedy accomplished a dream on Tuesday afternoon.
Kenedy’s J’ren Salais committed to play football at Texas Lutheran University and Alejandra Hernandez committed to play golf at UHV.
“To me it means working hard every day,” Hernandez said. “Sometimes I got tired of wanting to play golf and practice, but it’s what’s going to get me to my future and it’s what really I wanted to do.”
Salais helped revive Kenedy’s football program after back-to-back 0-10 seasons in 2017 and 2018.
After making the playoffs as a junior, Salais rushed for 1,151 yards as a senior and led the lions to a win over Ben Bolt in the Class 2A, Division I bi-district round, Kenedy’s first playoff win since 2013.
Salais had verbally committed to Mary Hard-Baylor but chose TLU after a visit that made him feel welcomed.
“They comforted me like I was their own family from the get go,” Salais said. “Treated me like I was their own. Their facility was amazing, everybody welcomed me with open arms and they just really wanted me. I felt like that was the right school for me, it felt like home.”
Salais, who plans to study education, will join a program that has been heavily recruiting athletes from the Crossroads in the past year.
“Not many schools know about Kenedy, not many schools know about all these little towns around here,” Salais said. “It’s going to mean a lot that I get to show and to prove what’s all down here.”
Hernandez has been an accomplished golfer for the Leopards and her signing day table had the individual medals to prove it.
Hernandez was a state qualifier as a freshman and sophomore and was expected to qualify was a junior in 2020.
Hernandez’s mother, cousins and teachers at Kenedy all went to UHV, so the Jaguars were on her mind as she used the Next College Student Athlete (NCSA) app, to get in touch with UHV head coach Garrett Adair.
That formed a dialogue and led to a scholarship offer, allowing Hernandez to accomplish a dream of playing college athletics and study nursing.
“It means a lot honestly,” Hernandez said. “I like to be a role model to people. I love to help people and I want to be the best I can be. I’ve always wanted to be the best in general. So I push myself as hard as I can and I always want to be a role model for everyone here and around us.”
Both Salais and Hernandez are still competing in track and golf and have qualified for regionals in their respective sports.
Hernandez headed to Corpus Christi the moment the signing ceremony ended and will compete at the Class 2A, Region IV tournament at the Lozano Golf Course Wednesday and Thursday.
“I’ve been working hard, I’m actually ranked first in region right now and I’m going to bring home a first place medal,” Hernandez said.
NOTE: Kenedy Valedictorian Paige Tam and Salutatorian Emily Cruz were also honored in the ceremony.