Kayla Hirt officially became a Minnesota Gopher Wednesday morning when she signed a National Letter of Intent to attend the University of Minnesota and join the basketball team.
"I'm very proud of Kayla," said her mother, Tracy, following the signing. "Kayla has worked very hard to get to where she is. She had other offers but wanted to remain in the state and play where her mom and dad and aunts and uncles could watch her play."
Hirt had verbally committed to the University of Minnesota a few years ago but signing the letter officially sealed the deal.
"It's nice to know that it is finally official and that I am a Gopher," Kayla said.
Hirt chose Minnesota because of the program's past success, its future potential and its proximity to Bemidji.
"I want my family to watch me play," Hirt said. "And I believe the program is going to continue to be great.
"I'm excited and thankful to be going to Minnesota," Hirt continued. "Most kids don't have the opportunity to play for their home state and I'm thankful I will."
Her father, Jim, said that Kayla's desire to become the best she could be led to Wednesday's signing.
"Kayla is a girl that you never had to push," Jim said. "She did everything all on her own. Even when she gets to a certain level of training Kayla isn't satisfied and she does more.
"We are very proud of her."
Hirt, who is recovering on schedule from her operation to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament, plans on contributing to the Gophers as a freshman.
"The knee will be ready and I want to be ready to play in the first game next fall," Hirt said, adding that there are no plans to red-shirt her.
"I'll be ready to go and with hard work and determination I believe I can accomplish my goals as a Gopher."