Yellow Jackets celebrate signing day
A high school athlete doesn’t get to be a collegiate athlete without lots of work and putting up good numbers on the field. Fine results in the classroom are needed, too.
Dedication to academics, with GPAs surpassing simply “fine,” and athletics, whether on the football field or soccer field, was the common theme for 11 Lee County seniors as they were recognized for earning college athletic scholarships on National Signing Day Wednesday, the first day high school seniors all over the nation could officially accept college offers.
From the Yellow Jacket girls’ soccer program, Jill Davis is going to High Point and Olivia Sturdivant is going to Kennesaw State.
From the Jacket boys’ soccer squad, and football as well, Ben Grossfuss is deciding between Guilford and Lynchburg.
Eight Jackets are accepting scholarships to play football at the college level. Chase Arrington is going to Gardner-Webb. James Foushee and Reese Setzer are headed to Guilford. Austin Johnson and T.J. Lett are going to Brevard. Cody Lanier is going to UNC Pembroke. Brian Stryffeler is going to Wingate and Tre Wells is going to Greensboro.
“The biggest thing with this group,” said assistant football coach Foster Cates, “is the average GPA here is above 4.0.”
Taking into account, not only the demands of varsity sports, and multiple sports for most of the Jackets who had the deserved spotlight in front of family, friends and classmates in Lee County’s gym for their announcements, but other extracurricular, volunteer and academic responsibilities as well, “this isn’t something that happens every day,” said Foster Cates.
Along with rounds of applause for the student-athletes, there were rounds of applause from student to audience, mostly for parents.
“Sometimes people don’t realize all the work that goes into getting to this point, especially from the parents, and their sacrifices,” said Steve Womack, Lee County athletic director and head trainer.
“This opportunity is a true blessing,” Foushee said. ‘I just thank the coaches and my family.”
Foushee, moving on from Yellow Jacket to Quaker, has earned Academic All-Conference honors in the Tri-Nine the last two years while scoring 29 touchdowns total as a running back, cornerback and kick/punt returner last season.
Davis, who will be a four-year starter as a defender when soccer season gets going in a few weeks, thanked her parents for everything, including taking her to club soccer practice, just the practices, with Triangle United in Chapel Hill three times a week.
While being a three-time All-Region and two-time All-Tri-Nine defender and team MVP for Jacket track and field, Davis is a four-time Academic All-Conference member in both sports while having a 4.3 GPA.
Sturdivant, the starting goalkeeper for the Lady Jackets and for club team Triangle United Soccer, as well as playing volleyball and basketball for the Jackets. When the score’s called for it for Lee County, Sturdivant moves to forward or center midfield and has scored important goals for the Lady Jackets.
Grossfuss has been a two-sport athlete, in the same season, for the Jackets as he’s an all-conference kicker on Friday nights and an All-South Region, All-State and Tri-Nine Player of the Year forward/midfielder on the pitch.
Grossfuss, a four-year starter in soccer, scored 52 goals in the last two seasons. He was named All-South Region, a region stretching from Maryland to Florida, by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America for his senior season. In the classroom, he has a 4.14 GPA.
In Lee County’s run to the second round of the state football playoffs, the Yellow Jacket offensive line, as a whole, was voted Offensive MVP by the coaching staff. Four linemen, Setzer, Lanier, Johnson and Stryffeler, will be playing college football and, it wasn’t all about brute strength for the Jacket line, all four have GPAs of 4.0 or higher.
Setzer was the starting center for his junior and senior seasons. Lanier played right tackle for the last two years. Johnson was a two-year starter at right guard and Stryffeler played right tackle, then left tackle, as a three-year starter.
Wells started all 13 games at tight end last season, his first season playing football. Foster Cates praised Wells for his dedication since deciding to come out for the team last June. Wells, Lett and Arrington are part of Lee County’s current push for a good Tri-Nine basketball season and a state playoff berth.
Lett, a three-year starter at wide receiver and defensive back, along with a standout special teams player, earned the Team Before Self award, as voted on by teammates and coaches following the season. Lett had 110 receptions, 1,509 receiving yards, 15 touchdowns for his career at receiver. Last season on defense and special teams, he forced 11 takeaways.
Arrington, who’s going to FCS (Football Championship Subdivision, or Division 1-AA) program Gardner-Webb, was an All Tri-Nine quarterback as a junior and senior.
For all the football stats Arrington’s put up, they don’t stack up to his 4.75 GPA.
On the gridiron, Arrington totaled 3,311 passing yards, 1,607 rushing yards and 40 total touchdowns in his Yellow Jacket career.