Thursday, November 21, 2013
For five North Augusta High School seniors, early signing day on Wednesday, Nov. 13 was a reward for their years of hard work. Swimmers Elizabeth Creech, Nicole Fuller and Kelsey Williams joined baseball players Ryan Lark and Chaz Davey in signing to continue their athletic careers at the college level.
Joy Collins, swimming coach at North Augusta, called the group “the cream of the crop.”
“They have broken records and done things that no other group has done at North Augusta,” Collins said. “Having all three of them together, they made their mark on the record book of North Augusta.”
Creech, a member of the 400 free relay team which won state in 2013, is attending Alderson-Broaddus College in Philippi, W.Va. She is enthused to continue her swimming career at Alderson-Broaddus, a private four-year liberal arts college.
“It’s an awesome opportunity and it pays for college,” Creech said. “It’s great and I’m excited about it.”
Fuller, a state champion in the 200 and 500 free competitions, is taking her talents to Southern Illinois University to join a swim program that has produced 29 Olympians. Fuller found her “home” at Southern Illinois.
“I was nervous, at first, because choosing a college is such a big decision,” she said. “I mean, I love swimming, to me it’s just as important as what I do in the classroom. I wanted to make sure I found the right place, where I wouldn’t just fit in, where I would continue to grow. Once you get to such a high level it’s so hard to continue to improve. I was open to close and far-away colleges, because I was looking for where I would fit. It’s like another family at Southern Illinois. I’m nervous, but excited and I can’t wait.”
The final swimmer who signed, Williams, is headed to Gardner-Webb in Boiling Springs, NC.
“I decided to go to college to swim because I’m at the point where I can get even better,” she said. “I want to get even better with it, and going to Gardner-Webb means a lot because they have a really good team. That’s the place I really wanted to go to.”
The North Augusta High School baseball team is sending two players to Erskine next fall. Davey, a pitcher, and Lark, a catcher, have worked together for four years as Jackets, and are excited to continue their baseball careers together.
“It’s great to have Chaz with me at college,” Lark said. “We’ve worked hard since freshman year together and have gotten better together. It means a lot to keep playing with him.”
Lark is particularly excited to see his hard work pay off.
“It’s a good feeling (to go to college for baseball),” he said. “I’m glad my hard work has paid off.”
Davey said playing baseball in college is a “dream come true.”
“It means a lot to me,” he said. “It’s been a dream of mine since I was little, since I started playing baseball I’ve wanted to play college ball. I’ve always worked hard to get better everyday.”
Vic Radcliff, assistant baseball coach at North Augusta, said the signings were “big” for the program.
“Anytime we can get kids who come out of here, who learn to play the game and are willing to go on to the next level to play, we feel good about that,” he said. “It’s big for our program.”
Radcliff thinks having Davey and Lark together will be a plus for the two players during their time at Erskine.
“I think it’s an extra bonus because they’ll have someone at college that they’ve played ball with all their lives,” Radcliff said. “It’s going to benefit them and they’ll add a lot to the program they’re going to.”
Erskine is getting two players who “are great leaders,” according to Radcliff.
“Both of them have been in the program, playing varsity baseball, they’ve gotten better over the years,” he said. “They both work very hard. They are two of the leaders of our team and they have always been good examples for our program.”
T.J. Lundeen is a reporter for the North Augusta Star. Follow him on Twitter @lundeentj for more updates.