By RICHARD ROBERTS
As Walker Valley High School continues to grow in size and students, it is only natural the number of athletes has grown along with the school.In the past, the signing of athletics scholarships has …
In the past, the signing of athletics scholarships has been on an individual basis. But, as the numbers of Mustangs headed to the next level of athletics and academics continues to grow at a rapid rate, Wednesday was the beginning of a new tradition for the school with signings en masse for six Walker Valley athletes.
“It's neat to see all the athletes that have come through the northern side of the district,” said Walker Valley Principal Nat Akiona. “It's nice to be able to celebrate with them and their families on this momentous day in their careers.”
The celebration began with Taylor Ellis and Caitlin Dickson signing soccer scholarships with Lee University. Teammate Lauren Caylor signed papers to play at Berry College. Miranda Young will continue her career on the softball field with Tennessee Wesleyan. Blake Peterson inked with Cleveland State and will play baseball for the Cougars. Fellow Mustang Hunter Shamblin will move on after his senior season and become part of the University of the Cumberlands baseball team.
The group of athletes will be some of the first to become immortalized at the school with photos of their signings to be displayed in the Walker Valley Athletics Hall of Fame.
“We have a lot of good athletes and we want to highlight them,” Akiona explained. “This is going to be kind of the start of a tradition for us so we can get all the pictures and have all the people in one spot and kind of streamline it for coaches and parents. Eventually, the pictures taken today will be displayed in our back hallway in the Athletics Hall of Fame. Every singing day picture, starting today, will be displayed there, as long as we have room.”
It is no secret there is a large sense of pride at Walker Valley, not only in the number of athletes signing scholarships to play college sports, but in the quality of students headed out to represent the school in all areas of athletics as well as academics.
“The kids signing today not only are athletes, but they are students as well,” said Akiona. “Their decisions in postsecondary [education] have set them up for success because of their academics as well as athletics. I like that balance between those elements. They are good kids all around.”
If Wednesday's event was any indication of the future growth of athletics and academics at Walker Valley, additional space will eventually need to be found as the number of photos continues to grow.
“As our teams develop and our coaching staffs expand their knowledge, we will see a lot more signing days even more robust than the one we had today.”
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