ALPHARETTA, Ga. -- They are best friends and teammates, and that won't change for a while.
But in a few months when St. Francis High School's four Division-I women's basketball signees go off to college, they'll be forced to add the word former in front of the word teammates.
"I’m close with every single one of them there. They’re like sisters, they’re family and they’re very helpful," Taja Cummings said.
Cummings signed to Georgia Tech Wednesday, the first day of the early signing period that lasts until Nov. 16 when student athletes can sign their national letter of intent for all sports except football.
For Cummings, Wednesday was a dream come true and the culmination of a lot of work.
"It’s a lot of hard work and repetition to get better," she said. "Very relieved that it’s not over yet, but it is for high school. I get to become a better person, a bigger person and further my name."
The same can be said for Maya Dodson, who signed to Stanford University, one of the nation's elite schools in women's basketball and academics.
"I can’t even describe with words, to finally make my commitment official to everyone today," Dodson said. "It’s a wonderful campus. It feels like home."
Stanford, located in California, is far from home. Dodson is a little nervous about getting homesick from time to time, but there won't be much time to really focus on it. She said her family will visit often to watch her games.
"It’s years of just preparation, training and AU games. Also just making sure my academic grades are up to par. It’s a lot of hard work just to get into Stanford, also getting a scholarship for basketball there."
Her teammate, Kasiyahna Kushkituah, signed to a rival school, Tennessee. The two are undoubtedly going to meet on the court some day, possibly even in a national championship like the schools did back in 2008. But even a budding rivalry won't keep them apart.
"My teammates are all my best friends. It’s going to be a lot, missing them and going our separate ways, but we’re all going to keep in contact."
Kushkituah was inspired growing up by the late Pat Summitt, former women's basketball coach at Tennessee and most-winningest coach in collegiate basketball history, who passed away earlier this year.
"Just watching her when I was young, the things that she did for her team were amazing. It was sad when I found out the news that she died, and I want to continue to what she had going on with the program with Coach Holly [Warlick]."
Nichel Tampa signed to Western Kentucky on Wednesday, and while she was humbled by the opportunity to play in Division-I, she boasted about her teammates who have worked equally as hard.
"We’re all very talented, to know that God gave us these talents and we’re just going somewhere with them, it means a lot. Days and days in the gym, hours and hours in the gym."
These four friends-- best friends-- still have their senior season directly in front of them. But after that, they'll consider each other former teammates.
But they will stay friends...most of the time.
"I’m going to miss them, but when we’re on the court, there’s no talking. I’ll talk to them after the game. Not friends," Cummings joked.