On National Signing Day, dozens of students committed to play sports at colleges around the country.

Several students in the Austin-area signed Wednesday, each with their own story.

One student from Bowie High School has a unique and interesting path to his success.

Joshua Smythe-Macaulay runs track, plays basketball, has a 3.9 GPA and signed to play football at Columbia University.

"It was incredible,” said Joshua Smythe-Macaulay. "This is something I've been looking forward to for a long time.”

His mother was there, too.

"What an experience, it was wonderful,” said Ivette Smythe-Macaulay, his mother.


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He started playing varsity as a freshman, working year-round to improve.

“A lot of hard work,” said Smythe-Macaulay.

The defensive back's friends and family came decked out in his new university's gear, showing support for what it's taken to get here.

"It means a lot, I think it was like the culmination of all his hard work,” said Ivette Smythe-Macaulay.

She told KVUE that work started at a young age. She showed KVUE photos and trophies, all documenting her son’s successful athletic career.

According to her, she even tried to get him to drop one of the sports he played, and focus more on school, but she said he wanted to do it all.

"He was always interested in playing all the sports,” said Ivette Smythe-Macaulay. “That's what woke him up in the morning, that's what made him look forward to the end of the day.”

That drive to succeed, to rise to the top, may have been something he learned even earlier in life.

"It was definitely like a life-changing moment that I didn't understand at the time,” said Joshua Smythe-Macaulay.

It happened when he was just 6-years-old.

His family lived in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit.

"I remember bits and pieces,” said Joshua Smythe-Macaulay.

One memory is still vivid.

"What I remember clearly is that my parents came back home, I was at home with I think my babysitter, something like that, and they were like, 'Uh guys, we've got to pack up and leave.' And I was like, 'What?' At the time I didn't really understand the magnitude of what was going on,” said Joshua Smythe-Macaulay.

The family planned to just spend a few days with friends in Houston.

"We were in Houston when we saw that the levees breached and when we realized both of their schools were already flooded -- we thought, 'Well no, we don't want to go back,'” said Ivette Smythe-Macaulay.

Now they've only been back to visit.

"We went back I think when I was 10 years old and I saw the houses and there were still areas in New Orleans that were devastated, and so it was really sad to go back and see,” said Joshua Smythe-Macaulay.

It’s a place he still feels strongly about.

"New Orleans is still my home,” said Joshua Smythe-Macaulay.

“He's still a huge supporter of the city,” said Ivette Smythe-Macaulay.

To show his ties, Joshua Smythe-Macaulay even had a king cake at his signing day.

While it's a place they love, both mom and son say the move to Austin was the right one.

"It was a great move for us, and everybody was always super welcoming,” said Ivette Smythe-Macaulay.

"Coming to Austin, playing football here, meeting all the people I've met, it's been one of the best experiences,” said Joshua Smythe-Macaulay.

It’s something he will now take on to his next chapter.