Colleges have been sending letters to Madison Baier throughout her high school years.
On Wednesday, she got to return the favor.
The South Tama senior inked her National Letter of Intent and sent it off to Iowa State University, where she'll join the Cyclones women's basketball program next fall.
South Tama’s Madison Baier sits between her parents, Steve and Shawn, while she signs her National Letter of Intent to join the Iowa State University’s women’s basketball team. She is joined by (back from left), Lisa Sieck, her brother Brooks, Larry Rohach, Nate Roberts, Jake Jacobson and Chelsea Ahrens.
"I couldn't stop smiling the whole time," said Baier, a lifetime Cyclones fan, while wearing a T-shirt that read "'Clone to the Bone."
The 6-foot-4 Baier was ninth in the state among all classes with 102 blocks a season ago on the way to being named second-team all-state by the Iowa Newspaper Association and the Times-Republican All-Area Player of the Year.
She also helped the Trojans to their first-ever 5-on-5 state tournament appearance.
"I think her biggest strength is just her maturity level and being level-headed in the game all the time," said STC head coach Nate Roberts. "I can see a difference in her work ethic right now. She's pushing herself in every drill and not taking any practice plays off."
ISU's interest in Baier peaked with her performance at its Elite Camp this summer and culminated with an offer in June.
It was an offer Baier snapped up immediately.
"She was probably the most excited kid to get an offer at Iowa State that I've ever had," said ISU head coach Bill Fennelly. "I think everyone was crying when we made the phone call. She is someone that loves Iowa State and I think she has the chance to be very good."
"We love to sign good kids from Iowa. They have a great appreciation from the tradition of our program," he added. "I have never had a kid so excited to get an offer from us, and that meant a great deal to me."
Baier averaged 12.5 points and 8.9 rebounds per game during her junior campaign. Her size is a great asset, but she'll need to improve her strength before coming to Ames.
"Maddy has a Big 12 body that will allow her to hang with the size in our league," said Fennelly. "Having said that, it will be critical that she commits to a great strength and conditioning program to be able to be a good player."
Baier has long heard from others that she had Division I potential, but it wasn't until schools started noticing her that she truly believed she had a shot.
"Ever since I got in high school, I've had people telling me (about my potential), and I was just kind of like 'Oh, OK, yeah,'" said Baier, "and then once I started getting letters, I was like, 'It's real.'"
The Cyclones faithful and the women's basketball community received sobering news earlier this fall when Fennelly announced he would begin treatment for invasive cancerous legions on his vocal cords.
A full recovery is expected, the school announced at the time.
"It was kind of a shock to find out," said Baier. "I was sad, but I'm glad it's 100 percent curable.
"He'll get through it. I know he will."
South Tama returns all five starters from last year's state participant squad as it moves from the Little Hawkeye Conference to the West Division of the North Iowa Cedar League.
"I expect us to go far again," said Baier. "We're playing in a new conference, playing teams we've never played before, but I still feel we should be able to go over them pretty easily, just like we did last year, and go to state and go far in state."
"Of course we're the target," she added. "So we've got to play just as hard."
The target may be bigger with a future Cyclone on the roster, but Baier's signing also allows STC to focus solely on the season.
"It takes the weight off her shoulders," said Roberts. "It's not a distraction anymore, which I don't think it ever was, but it does take the weight and pressure off her shoulders.
"She's just focused on improving this year and the end goal is to improve for next year as well."