PALESTINE – Palestine high school saw two Wildcats put ink to their letter of intent to go play on the collegiate level. Wildcat basketball player Enoch Fatade signed his letter-of-intent with Tyler Junior College. Ladycat softball player Ka'Zem Wood inked her letter-of-intent to join Trinidad State Junior College in Trinidad, Colorado.
Fatade has been a staple in the Wildcat basketball program since his freshman year. The 6'2 senior is a four-year varsity letterman and a three-year varsity starter.
His sophomore year, Fatade averaged 9.1 points per game, 4.5 assists. He was named second-team all-district and Palestine's most improved player along with helping them become bi-district champions.
Even before his stout sophomore year, Fatade set a goal for himself to one day play for Tyler Junior College.
“I had this school in my mind since I was a freshman,” Fatade said. “I love this sport. I'm motivated to provide for my parents as they provided for me. Their support keeps me going.”
He followed his sophomore year up with a 12.2 points per game output, 3.7 assists and a first-team all-district selection. He was named All-East Texas after the Wildcats were crowned district champions.
“It's mornings I come in here at 6 a.m. and he'll beat me here,” head coach J.J. Johnson said. “To watch him mature and get to this place is an awesome feeling.”
Coach Johnson saw as a sophomore Fatade's passion for trying to motivate those around him. Even as a younger player on the team “his energy [fed] the whole team.”
Similar to Fatade, Ka'Zem Wood has been a fixture in the Ladycat's softball program since her freshman year. She has garnered accolades since being a first-year starter beginning with being named “Offensive MVP” in 2017, Ladycat MVP in 2018 and District Co-MVP this year.
The same tangibles the Ladycat locker room saw daily were on display for Trinidad coaches at her previous tournament in Colorado.
“She's invested a lot of time outside of our program playing select softball,” coach Janae Evans said. She's ready for that next step and that next challenge. She's a great student and competitor.”
From there, Wood toured the Trojan campus and it was an environment she saw herself fitting into. She met with Trojan softball head coach Steve Swazo this summer and respected the way he presented himself.
Swazo enters his 14th season as Head Softball Coach of the Lady Trojan softball team and now has 361 wins while coaching at Trinidad State.
His 2017-18 team won its second consecutive Region IX Championship and placed its second athlete to move on to a D1 school in Katie Glaze who will play at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.
The 2017-18 class had nine of its 11 sophomores move on to a 4-year University to continue their softball careers with either an academic or athletic scholarship. Also most important was this class had an overall GPA of 3.55 as a team and (10) student-athletes made NJCAA All-American Academic Honors and (14) made Region IX All-Academic Honors. The students excelled not only on the softball field but also in the classroom.
“I don't have to worry about where I'm going now,” Wood said about removing the stress of picking a school. “I'm not backed up. I know what I'm doing ahead of my life.”