NORTH AUGUSTA — Aaliyah Bell, Jaycob Mathis and Tanner White, in sporting terminology, are late in the fourth quarter of their senior year, and they celebrated a score Wednesday afternoon at North Augusta High School, confirming their plans to continue their athletic endeavors at the collegiate level, with scholarship help.
White, largely known for his service as the Yellow Jackets’ quarterback, plans to travel from coast to coast, to play quarterback for Golden West College, in Huntington Beach, (near Anaheim), California. He has also competed for the Jackets in track and soccer.
Mathis is staying much closer to home, with plans to wrestle for Lander University. He will be on board for the Bearcats’ first wrestling season.
Heading a little farther north is Bell, a basketball standout who was an integral part of North Augusta’s three consecutive state-championship teams. She signed to play for Johnson C. Smith University, in Charlotte.
“It’s a great opportunity. I’m just excited to get out there and showcase my abilities,” said White, now listed at 5-foot-11 (“with shoes on”) and 190 pounds. “I’ve always wanted to play in college, and I’m just blessed with this opportunity.”
White, whose parents are Ricky and Sunshine White, said he is likely to pursue a degree in kinesiology or exercise science. Golden West, located in what is known to some as "Surf City," is a community college and its athletic teams are known as the Rustlers.
Bell, whose parents are Michael and Josette Rouse, said she plans to study sports management, en route to a career as a coach.
She touched on her priorities for the months ahead. “I don’t really shoot the ball that much, and my coach in college would like for me to shoot the ball, so I have to improve on that, but I’m hoping to bring hard work to the team, dedication and … my speed,” said Bell, a point guard now listed at 5 feet tall.
Looking back a few months, she said, “It’s been an amazing experience. My coaches helped me through all of it. My teammates backed me up, and I’m just ready to graduate and go on."
Johnson C. Smith is associated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and its athletic teams are known as the Golden Bulls.
Mathis, who was on board for the establishment of wrestling at North Augusta, is listed at 5-foot-8 and has wrestled at 145 pounds, with plans to move up to 160.
“Lander’s having their first-ever wrestling season this year, and I felt that was a great choice to further my academic and athletic career,” he said.
Mathis, whose parents are Dwayne Mathis and Stephanie Sabo, said he’ll probably go for a degree in sociology or psychology.
He also explained his plan for approaching a brand-new athletic program in Greenwood. “Basically, an iron-sharpens-iron mindset,” he said. “We’re all going to better each other and grow throughout this first season."