Throughout a high school sports season, there are special moments that stick with you as a journalist. The championship moments come to mind first, like Skylar Smith’s game-winning 3-pointer for Hilton Head Christian Academy or Tyler Haley’s clutch pass to McLeod Reichel to lead Beaufort High to a Lower State title. But the most rewarding moment of my work is seeing the culmination of dreams years in the making: the day where a lofty goal becomes an achieved reality.
There’s something magical about a college signing ceremony, and I’ve been fortunate to cover many of them during my time so far at LowcoSports. After years of hard work on the field, in the classroom, in the weight room, and even at home, these young men and women have earned the opportunity to keep playing the sports they love at the next level.
It’s a moment many of these Lowco stars have visualized for years in the making. Whether it was that first trip to Williams-Brice or Death Valley on a Saturday afternoon as a 7-year-old kid or that moment of watching a friend or older sibling shine at the college stage, the vision of doing the same thing dawned one day. Then the work began: developing the fundamentals, performing in tryouts, and logging miles to and from various tournaments, camps, and showcases year in and year out.
There would always be setbacks along the way, whether it was dealing with being cut, suffering a season-ending injury, or overcoming a tough defeat. But nobody may have ever had it tougher than what the Class of 2022 had to go through.
Right in the middle of their sophomore year, a crucial transition year in high school athletics, our student-athletes’ worlds were flipped upside-down with little to no warning. The COVID-19 pandemic threw everyone for a loop, but especially our Lowco stars. It hit the hardest for spring athletes, who were just beginning that crucial sophomore season of development. It’s a time when college scouts begin to follow future recruits closely, and a time for the up-and-coming standouts to put together their breakout campaigns. But all of that was suddenly halted in March 2020, forcing student-athletes, coaches, parents, and siblings to improvise in order to stay the course towards those dreams.
At the high point of the pandemic’s shutdown that spring, the gray clouds continued to put uncertainty towards the day we would ever see high school sports resume. When they did that next school year, it was the hard-working — and proactive — athletes who rose to the top and continued their climb to the goals that at one time may have felt like they were floating away for good.
On Wednesday night in the Hilton Head High media center, five student-athletes took their seats in front of their teammates, parents, and friends to officially sign their National Letters of Intent. With so many thoughts and emotions running through their heads, they took the final step to the peak of a mountainous journey; overcoming all the naysayers, setbacks, and a once-in-a-century global pandemic that no one could prepare for. And on that night, they sat in their school triumphant and ready for whatever challenges come their way both on the field or in any of their future endeavors.
To Ady O’ Grady, Gavin Dellinger, Seth Woods, Amare Ford, Anna Ferrebee, and all of our other Lowco signees this year, congratulations. You have certainly earned this opportunity to compete on the national level as a college athlete. You’ve made all of us proud with your incredible and inspirational drive to keep at it even when the toughest situations struck. Take a moment to thank your family, coaches, teammates, and friends that helped get you to this point, and remember the challenges that you surmounted along the way. You are more than prepared to face whatever comes ahead, and we can’t wait to follow you as a college athlete and the many successful years beyond.
By Wes Kerr
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