ECB Publishing, Inc.
It was a momentous occasion during the morning of Wednesday, Feb. 13, as the friends, family, coaches, teachers and fellow students gathered in support of 12 seniors on the Tigers Football team. On that day, the young men signed their collegiate letters of intent to their prospective colleges and universities.
This was the second annual Signing Day following the Somerset Charter taking over the Jefferson County public school system.
“We are getting ready to celebrate some of our future – these boys have been amazing all year long,” said Master of Ceremonies Tomura Byrd-Mathis as she opened up the signing event.
The Jefferson Somerset gym was filled with the signing athletes' teammates, family, loved ones, friends, teachers, coaches, school staff and those from the community who had long watched the athletes grow on the field, in the classroom and in their lives.
Beginning the event, Assistant Coach Brian Saylor encouraged the athletes to stay humble and work hard as they venture into a new journey.
“Know that there is a school, a county and a community that is back here and proud of you,” added Saylor. “We are excited to see what you guys will do, and know that we will be back here, cheering you on.”
After Saylor offered a prayer over the 12 signing athletes, Principal Cory Oliver went to the podium and acknowledged the coaches that had worked hard throughout the recent seasons to hone the talents of their athletes.
“It's not just about football,” said Principal Oliver. “It's about inspiring others, it's about brotherhood and sisterhood, it's about being mentors to people younger than you, it's about sacrifice.”
After Principal Oliver offered words of encouragement to the signing athletes to have the fight and spirit to achieve anything they want in order to succeed in life, those who attended the signing were provided with a year in review film that highlighted the various gains and improvements of the signing athletes throughout the recent football season.
The event's key-note speaker was Athletic Director 1st Sgt. Terry Walker who began his speech with a rallying of Tiger pride from the students before providing a history on the hiring of the Tiger's Head Football Coach Leroy Smith.
Sgt. Walker also reminded the athletes to pay due credit to their teachers, coaches and parents who had helped them reach this point in their lives.
After a hearty applause for Sgt. Walker, the underclassmen teammates provided an introduction of the signing athletes.
While 12 athletes from the Tiger Football Team would be signing their letters of intent, only nine were able to attend the signing ceremony.
Cameron Morris will be attending Itasca Community College, in Grand Rapids, MN.
Amantez Ford, Lazarus Tucker, La'Montrez McMillian, Danzel Crumitie and Javion Patrick will all be attending Northland Community and Technical College in East Grand Forks, MN.
Kimiri Thomas will be attending Mesabi Range Community and Technical College, in Virginia, MN.
Armon Williams and Ohija Mashburn will both be attending Fullerton Community College, in Fullerton, CA.
Zhyki Price will be attending Albany State University, in Albany, GA.
Da'Shon Davis will be attending Tennessee State University, in Nashville, TN.
Josh Aiken will be attending Huntingdon College, in Montgomery, AL.
After the signees had been announced, each athlete stood at the podium and offered passionate and emotional thanks to their teammates, families, school, coaches and to God.
The event was drawn nearer to a close as the Tiger's female football athlete, Brooklyn Kirkpatrick offered words of congratulations to the signees and thanked them for the season they had given the team through their encouragement and dedication to the team as well as the game itself.
The signees were joined by their family members as they signed their agreements with their prospective colleges.
In closing, the Tiger coaches who had guided the students stood behind their signing seniors to offer words of encouragement and praise.
“We are going to miss y'all. I'm proud of y'all,” said Offensive Line Coach Carl Crews. “Go out there, and make us proud of y'all. Hold your heads high and walk with that Tiger pride!”