Pioneer's LJ Chavez (center) signed a national letter of intent to play golf at The University of Central Oklahoma.

MISSION — College signings usually take place in gymnasiums or libraries on high school campuses. But with schools closed across the country due to the coronavirus pandemic, student-athletes have been forced to improvise.

Sharyland Pioneer senior golfer LJ Chavez held his college signing Wednesday evening in the backyard of his Mission home with friends and family in attendance to celebrate his continued athletic and academic career at the University of Central Oklahoma.

“I’m just so grateful to see all my friends and everybody that I invited, it means a lot to me. These have been my friends forever and I just couldn’t be more grateful,” Chavez said.

Chavez began golfing at 10 years old and it’s been a grind for the Pioneer senior ever since.

“It’s been six hours a day, every single day for the past five years. Just consistent grinding, knowing what I wanted to achieve and achieving it,” he said.

During his four years at Pioneer, Chavez qualified for the regional tournament three different times, and qualified for state during his junior season. This year, Chavez and the Diamondbacks boys golf team were on pace to make a run at the state tournament, but that was cut short due to the University Interscholastic League canceling all spring sports.

“I’m a little upset I didn’t get to play at state on my last ride. We really could have made it as a team, but I’m still very grateful to see all my family and friends here,” Chavez said.

Earlier this season, the Diamondbacks boys golf team shot a 305 on Day 2 of the Harlingen CISD Golf Tournament for a combined score of 622, finishing 13 strokes ahead of second place McAllen Memorial. Chavez won the individual championship as he finished 1-under par for the tournament.

What Chavez will remember most about his high school career is suiting up and competing alongside his teammates.

“Honestly, traveling with the team, that was the most fun. Going up to Georgetown every year, playing the best teams in the state, it was just a lot of fun,” he said.

Now, Chavez will go from a Pioneer Diamondback to a Central Oklahoma Broncho, which participates in the NCAA Division II level as a member of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association. The University of Central Oklahoma is located in Edmond, about a 20-minute drive from Oklahoma City.

“I’m looking forward to new experiences at Central Oklahoma and competing at the college level,” he said.