One of the most memorable days in a student-athlete's career is signing a National Letter of Intent.

But with ongoing coronavirus concerns it was clear that many seniors would not have the opportunity to celebrate signing day with coaches, peers and teammates.

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Julie Sandal, counseling secretary at Liberty High School, shows her support to senior student athletes during a surprise parade and celebration with coaches, faculty, friends, and family to honor Liberty High School athletes who are signing Letters of Intent to play college sports in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Friday, April 24, 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of schools Liberty High School delivered the celebrations to honor the athletic achievements of the students with a parade of cars. (Chancey Bush/ The Gazette)

So Liberty High School’s new athletic director stepped in.

Lianne Thiessen, who took over as AD just two months ago, planned a signing day parade for the Liberty athletes who did not have an opportunity to participate in an official celebration at school.

For two days a 15-car convoy drove from house to house in District 20, delivering signs, hand-written letters and treats to Lancer signees.

“I think we have to be creative in these times,” Thiessen said. “I think it’s important to try and honor them the way that we can. If we have to think outside the box in terms of social distancing and those kinds of things, well that’s what we have to do to make them feel special.”

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With spring sports officially canceled, as announced by CHSAA on Tuesday, the signing day parade was Thiessen’s first big project as the school’s new athletic director – her dream job.

The convoy of teachers, administrators, coaches and friends traveled to 15 different houses Thursday and Friday honoring each athlete with a chorus of car horns and cheers while practicing social distancing.

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Liberty senior Jaden Knight reacts as she steps outside her home during a surprise parade and celebration with coaches, faculty, friends, and family to honor Liberty High School athletes who are signing Letters of Intent to play college sports in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Friday, April 24, 2020. Knight signed her Letter of Intent to run cross country and track at Fort Lewis College. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of schools Liberty High School delivered the celebrations to honor the athletic achievements of the students with a parade of cars. (Chancey Bush/ The Gazette)

“I had no idea. I was shocked and speechless coming out here,” said Carolyn Naftanel, who signed to play soccer at Colorado Mesa. “It was super cool. I love our school and we haven’t seen any other school doing this around town and it just makes us feel super special with everything going on.”

Naftanel was one of three Liberty girls’ soccer players surprised on Thursday. It was the first time they'd seen coaches or teammates since the second week of March.

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Coaches, faculty, friends, and family honor Liberty High School senior athletes that signed their Letter of Intents to play college sports during a celebration parade in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Friday, April 24, 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of schools the athletics' department at Liberty High School delivered the celebrations to honor the athletic achievements of the students with a parade of cars and celebrations. (Chancey Bush/ The Gazette)

“It’s really nice to know we have all this support and love from the school even though we haven’t been in the classroom,” said Cortney Cowles, a CSU-Pueblo signee.

“It’s our senior year and we are missing out on a lot of things that seniors get to do, so having at least one thing for everyone to come together and celebrate is really neat,” said Kimmy McKinney, who signed to play soccer at Oklahoma Baptist. “It’s amazing and makes us so happy.”

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Liberty senior Kimmy McKinney hugs principal Alan Thimmig outside her home during a a surprise parade and celebration with coaches, faculty, friends, and family in Peyton, Colo., on Thursday, April 23, 2020. McKinney signed her Letter of Intent to play soccer at Oklahoma Baptist University. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of schools the athletics' department at Liberty High School delivered the celebrations to honor the athletic achievements of the students with a parade of cars and celebrations. (Chancey Bush/ The Gazette)

Katelyn McMoore missed an extra-special signing celebration with her school as she signed a National Letter of Intent as a dual-sport athlete, picking UCCS for volleyball and track & field.

“My main goal going into high school was to try to continue both of my sports and get a scholarship for both sports,” McMoore said. “So this was so special. I really wasn’t expecting this at all, especially with these hard times and really not being able to see many people.”

Congratulations to the rest of Liberty High School’s Class of 2020 National Letter of Intent signees:

Elias Alexander — Dakota State, Football (DII)

Kylan Crafts-Thimmig — Buena Vista University, Soccer (DIII)

Michael Cornelius — St. Olaf College, Football (DIII)

Cortney Cowles — CSU-Pueblo, Soccer (DII)

Rees Hagler — Rutgers, Gymnastics (DI)

Jammin Henry — Bethel University, Football (DIII)

Lydia Marshall — Friends University, Basketball (NAIA)

Carolyn Naftanel — Colorado Mesa, Soccer (DII)

Jaden Knight — Fort Lewis College, Cross Country/Track (DII)

Kimmy McKinney — Oklahoma Baptist, University Soccer (DII)

Katelyn McMoore — UCCS, Volleyball/Track (DII)

Samantha Peachy — Geneva College, Volleyball (DIII)

Mussa Pene — University of Nebraska-Kearney, Football (DII)

Agustin Rivas — Doane University, Basketball (NAIA)

Malachi Salus — Western State, Football (DII)

SIGNING DAY LIST: A look at the Class of 2020 National Letter of Intent signees in the Pikes Peak region
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