It was an important day for Holy Trinity seniors James Linnabary and Ronald Darby III.
Linnabary signed his National Letter of Intent to play soccer at Holy Cross College in Notre Dame, Indiana while Darby inked his NLI to play football at Avila University in Kansas City.
“It’s a big day to me,” Darby said. “Just to be able to sign … I remember before I came here, I never thought I was going to be able to go to college. I came here and they helped me out with my academics and athletic-wise, too.
“It’s just a big moment.”
Darby transferred to Holy Trinity from Cocoa for his senior season. Although he came in as a wide receiver, he also got a chance to see time at linebacker for the Tigers and that’s the position the Eagles recruited him to play.
Avila was the co-champion of the NAIA’s Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference for the 2020 season. It marked the first conference championship in program history.
Darby drew interest from several other programs, including St. Thomas University, but ultimately chose Avila after visiting the campus.
“When I went for a visit, I felt more at home with the coaches,” he said. “They just made me feel like a member of the family.”
Darby is undecided about his major.
Linnabary, meanwhile, plans to major in Biology before going into pre-Med at Holy Cross College.
The Holy Trinity goalkeeper certainly had a memorable career at Holy Trinity, playing a big role in each of the team’s last two district championships.
As a junior, he converted a penalty kick and then made the game-winning save to beat West Shore in a shootout that decided the district semifinals. And just two months ago, when the Tigers found themselves in another shootout with West Shore, Linnabary made two big saves and again converted on a penalty kick of his own to help Holy Trinity win its 11th district crown.
Those big moments were only part of the story for Linnabary, who put in a lot of extra work over the past two years to help him realize the moment that came on Wednesday.
“Going into my junior year, I knew I needed to do something about this if I wanted to play in college and get that scholarship,” Linnabary said. “Starting my junior year, I made a big change. I started eating right, lifting a lot of weights and gained about 25 pounds of mainly pure muscle.
“Obviously, working out in the morning helped a lot. (So did) goalkeeper training. And all my teammates pushed me in practice to help me improve.”
It resulted in Linnabary having 18 offers before choosing the Saints, who were the first to give him an offer.
“What set Holy Cross apart was mainly Coach (Omar) Gallo,” Linnabary said. “(He was) the first one to fully commit to believing in me playing at the next level. He’s a great person. That really stood out to me.
“Going to college, I always look for the morals and the integrity of the coaches more than anything else because that’s who I’m going to be working with for the next four years.”
As for his time at Holy Trinity, it will always have a special place in Linnabary’s heart.
“I wouldn’t trade it for anything with my coaches helping build my work ethic and academic excellence,” he said. “Holy Trinity is a great academic school in general. My scholarship, the majority of it, was an academic package. I wouldn’t have been able to have that without the great teachers at HT.”