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Brothers sign letter of intent to play collegiate baseball

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Two Liberty baseball standouts and Liberty High School seniors Andrew and Caleb Phillips officially announced that they plan to continue their sports careers in college next fall at Cairn University and Houghton University, respectively.

Andrew, ranked tenth in his class, will attend Cairn University in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, where he plans to study elementary and special education. Caleb, ranked twelfth in his class, will attend Houghton College in Houghton, New York as a communications major. Both colleges are a Division III school and ironically, are known as “The Highlanders.”

On Jan. 25, they signed a non-binding letter of intent with their family in the Liberty High School gymnasium to celebrate.

“I’m excited,” Andrew said. “I feel like I will be able to make a difference at Cairn right away. The team is currently in a rebuilding stage and identified several needs and I’m ready to help fill them.”

Unlike Andrew, Caleb is anticipating a different freshman experience on the team.

“Houghton seemed like the most competitive team,” he said. “It’s the biggest challenge and I’m excited to learn as much as I can from them. I might be spending more games sitting on the side observing, but the payoff will be worth it.”

The brothers attribute their love of baseball to their father, David Phillips, a teacher at Liberty Elementary School and baseball coach. When Andrew and Caleb were just five years old, their dad encouraged them to participate in a tee-ball team and they’ve been excelling in baseball ever since.

“Andrew and Caleb both played baseball all their lives, starting with tee-ball. As children, they loved watching baseball on television with me which grew into collecting cards and so on. Little League got them hooked for good,” said Mr. Phillips. “Whether coaching or assisting, I’ve been with them every step of the way. They’ve each worked so hard to achieve their goals.”

Andrew and Caleb have been players on the Liberty High School’s Varsity baseball team for the past three years. Andrew plays outfield and third base and has made nine starts on the mound over the past two seasons. Caleb also plays outfield and has pitched nearly 30 innings off the mound in the last two years.

For the past seven years, they have both been training with the Pro Prospects Training Center in Monticello, New York.  In addition, they have each played nearly one hundred games with the Northeast Pride Travel Baseball Organization over the last four years as where they took part in tournaments all over the northeast against top competitors.

“Both players have worked hard toward achieving their goal of playing baseball at the college level,” Liberty Athletic Director Kurt Buddenhagen said. “These two are very dedicated to not only the sport, but to their grades as well. I’m very proud of them.”

In the past, Division III athletes were prohibited from participating in a signing ceremony in the same way Division I and Division II athletes were able to.

 However, in January 2014, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) voted to allow Division III prospects to sign a “non-binding standardized celebratory form” which can be signed by a student athlete after they have been accepted by that college. This new form, crafted by the NCAA, now allows prospects like Andrew and Caleb to celebrate their admittance to a Division III college to continue their education while participating in collegiate athletics.

“The boys began their college searches two years ago. They’ve been through a lot e-mails, phone calls, player showcases, college clinics and campus visits before making their final choices,” said Mr. Phillips. “[My wife] Robbi and and I are just so proud of each of them and can’t wait to see what the future holds for them.”

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