After taking a look at professional athletes and personnel in parts 1 and 2, it’s now time to turn the attention to the collegiate level.
A large percentage of students who play sports and really love it dream about playing in college and/or professionally someday. I know I did. I grew up playing three sports from the age of seven through my freshman year of college, and that’s all I wanted to do.
With that said, anyone who has been around sports knows that each time you advance to the next level, the game gets more challenging. Athletes get stronger and faster, the game gets faster and maybe more physical, and the competition gets better. There are also fewer slots that need to be filled. Some athletes feel like they can no longer compete on the next level, or a coach makes that decision for them, or they develop different interests, or an injury may knock them out of participation. Whatever the reason, the numbers get smaller, and the talent gets better with each level of the game.
I recently spoke with several local graduates who are now competing on the collegiate level or have recently graduated and asked what is one of the biggest differences for them between playing in high school versus playing in college.
(Creek Wood/Charleston Southern University track and field)
“The biggest difference for me is the level of commitment and dedication it takes to excel at the collegiate level,” Edmondson said. “Now I have multiple practices in a day whether that be lifting, conditioning, or specific event training. These all together take up many hours, but it’s crucial for success…”
(Dickson County/Tennessee Wesleyan University baseball)
“The environment is much more intense,” Berry said. “Everybody is there because they all are really serious about playing and winning.”
(Creek Wood/Mercer University basketball)
“Physicality. The game is much more physical and you don’t get the same calls when somebody is bumping you at the college level,” Cummings said.
(Dickson County/Tennessee Martin golf)
“The biggest difference would be the time and dedication it takes to excel,” Story said. “I’ve learned a lot about time management throughout my college career.”
(Dickson County/Trevecca Nazarene University softball)
“Responsibility. I had to grow up pretty fast! In college, I lived on campus which means I was responsible for attending class, studying, weights, practice, tarp pulls, etc. no matter what time it was. College really does prepare you for the real world,” Odom said.
(Dickson County/University of West Alabama football)
“The speed of the game and competition level was the most noticeable change I noticed at the college level,” Murphree said.
(Creek Wood/Bethel University cheerleading)
“The biggest difference for me was learning to not be afraid and pushing myself, not only physically but mentally,” Huff said. “Being thrown 30-40 feet into the air while flipping is not only physically different on your body, but it’s also mentally hard to push through.”
What are the chances of a high school athlete going on to play at the collegiate level? According to a report by Scholarship Stats, “Overall a little more than 7% of high school athletes or about one in 14 went on to play a varsity sport in college, and less than 2% of high school athletes or one in 54 went on to play at NCAA Division I schools. The largest percentage of both male and female college athletes competed at NCAA Division III schools.
Tennessee has about 108,000 student-athletes. Using the percentages above, roughly 7,560 state athletes go on to play in college. According to the Tennessee High School Athletic Association, Creek Wood has 344 student-athletes, and Dickson County has 430. The actual numbers are lower because athletes who play multiple sports are not taken into consideration even though the number of multi-sport athletes has decreased over the years, but that discussion is for another time. Using the 7% figure, Creek Wood, theoretically should have 22-24 student-athletes moving on to play in college, and Dickson County should have 28-30. I adjusted a small amount for possible multi-sport athletes.
After consulting several area coaches, we came up with a list of 60 local graduates who are currently competing on the collegiate level as of the 2019-2020 season. We are privileged to have so many outstanding athletes representing Dickson County. If any athlete has been left off the list, please let me know.
BASEBALL: Hunter Crosby (Western Kentucky), Tucker Berry (Tennessee Wesleyan), Zeke Lecomte (Trevecca), Chase Klotz (Vol State), Jett Jackson (Purdue), Luke Russell (Roane State), Chase Haley (Trevecca), Paul Rahman (Bethel), Avery Gunn (MTSU), Colton Thompson (Dyersburg State), Peyton Allen (Vol State). BASKETBALL: Kailey Rosenbaum (Lipscomb), *LeaLea Carter (Vanderbilt), Ryann Roberts (Bethel), Emily Beard (Union), Reagan Hohl (Bethel), Raegan Purvine (Freed Hardeman), Ross Cummings (Mercer). BOWLING: Samantha England (Tusculum), Clay Petitt (Martin Methodist). CHEER: Allie Reda (UT Martin), Marlayna Huff (Bethel), Laken Choate (Martin Methodist). FOOTBALL: Tez Coleman (Kentucky Christian), Colton Stewart (Tusculum), Wyatt Page (Cumberland), Darian Burns (Bethel), Jack Sensing (Austin Peay), Trace Pierce (Bethel), Brenden Dickens (Cumberland), Donovan Wallace (Centre), Jacob Murphree (West Alabama), Ian Spence (Cumberland). FISHING: Tristan McCormick (Bethel). GOLF: Jack Story (UT Martin), Hunter Wolcott (Tennessee), Ty Crouch (Bethel), Isaac Holley (Bethel), Trey Register (Bethel), Allan Stokes (Tennessee State), John Stokes (Tennessee State). SOCCER: Alec Lanius (Martin Methodist). SOFTBALL: Makray Odom (Trevecca), Bailey Griffith (Lincoln Memorial), Madison Woodard (Kentucky Christian), Brett Jackson (Austin Peay), Analeigh Coursey (Tennessee State), Brooklin Lee (Belmont), Becky Melton (Tennessee State), Sam Morgan (Freed Hardeman). TRACK: Jacob Hatcher (Lee Univ), Quinton Poole (Cumberland), Sam Elliott (Sam Elliott), Tristan Ray (Freed Hardeman), Caroline Edmondson (Charleston Southern). VOLLEYBALL: Summer Jackson (Martin Methodist), Samantha Kilian (Martin Methodist), Kacey Donegan (Freed Hardeman). WRESTLING: Macon Webster (University of the Cumberlands), Garrett Witherspoon (MTSU).
*LeaLea Carter is a recent graduate of Vanderbilt and has signed a professional contract with ZKK Plamen Pozega in the Croatian First League. Best wishes. We’ll be watching.