Eight athletes from South Forsyth signed national letters of intent to play in college – two runners, two football players, two soccer players, one golfer and one swimmer.
But only the football players were forced to speak, by edict of War Eagles head coach Jeff Arnette, in front of the 100 or so spectators in the school’s Performing Arts Center.
Davis Shanley had a rah-rah, Tom Brady-life message for the teammates he is leaving behind (“Ya’ll gonna win state next year, aight!”). Joey Johnson almost forgot to mention what school he had signed with earlier that morning (the prestigious Johns Hopkins University).
And so Johnson looked relieved as he approached his parents after all the eight athletes had been acknowledged by their coaches and posed for photos on stage.
“That was harder than I thought,” Johnson said.
“Maybe you need to enroll in a public speaking class,” his father quipped.
Most of the speaking came from the coaches, who tried to capture in a minute or two at a time the essence of each athlete.
Cross country runners Matt Patterson (Georgia College) and Milicent Bergey (University of Georgia) were standard-bearers, coach Nick Wansley said, and in Bergey’s case a leader, even if she didn’t like the word.
Soccer player Alli Norton (Kennesaw State) is the Lady War Eagles’ liaison between her players and coach Tom Braun. Her teammate Meagan Postell (Georgia State) is the soft-spoken Swiss Army knife capable of playing anywhere on the field.
Golfer Trevor Plinck (Truett McConnell) is the emotional center of the team, according to coach Jonathan Schreirer, and the most willing to help a teammate.
Swimmer Katherine Brostrom must be the trickster of the team, for she let Wednesday’s ceremony be the opportunity to announce her college choice. Coach Corinna Spurlock told the crowd not even Brostrom’s parents knew her decision yet. She signed with Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota.
But all were equal parts relieved and excited Wednesday morning.
“Leading up this week I was just waiting for today to happen,” Norton said. “I finally got my NLI Monday, and I was so ready to sign it. My mom had to hold me back from signing it this morning. But it’s exciting to have your future set and playing the game I love.”
“It’s kind of nice to be done, officially over,” Shanley said. “I get to be excited about Western Kentucky and all the coaches and all that. I’m really excited for it.”