By Joshua Price/Sports Editor
Gaston High School basketball star Morgan Beaird was the most highly decorated female high school athlete during the 2011-12 school year.
Beaird led the Lady Bulldogs to the Northeast Regional Tournament at Jacksonville State University. Beaird earned All-Area and All-County during her senior season, and was selected as The Messenger’s Little-7 Player of the Year.
Beaird led all Etowah County girls basketball players, netting 20.4 points per game. Beaird did most of her damage behind the 3-point line, where she average 52 percent accuracy.
Beaird put the final touches on her magnificent, and perhaps hall of fame, prep career on February 9. A 3-point shot in the first quarter against Coosa Christian put the senior guard over 2,000 career points, a feat reached by only three other female high school basketball players in Etowah County history.
“In 28 years of coaching, she is the best shooter I have ever coached,” Gaston head coach Tonya Bogle said. “If you give her a look from the outside, she can knock it down.”
But there is more to Beaird than just basketball. The senior is valedictorian of Gaston this year and is one of the top students in the county. Earlier this week Beaird surprised everyone who followed her sporting career by declining numerous basketball scholarship offers to concentrate on academics.
“I decided to just go to college on my academics,” Beaird said. “I got enough scholarships to pay for school. I feel like I made the best decision for my future.”
Beaird received an Honors Scholarship to Gadsden State, which is offered to the top incoming nursing students, those which possess both a 3.25 GPA and an ACT score of at least 25 or an SAT score of 1,200. Beaird also recieved a Valedictorian Scholarship to Jacksonville State University, which will pay for the remaining two years of the nursing program.
“There are two great nursing schools in this area,” Beaird said. “I really am going to have to have to work hard for nursing school, so I just decided that if i can get most to all my school paid for by academics and spend the majority of my time studying, then that is what I should do.”
Beaird said she loved playing sports for Gaston, and has nothing but fond memories of her career.
“Sports would be over with in four years anyway regardless. I love playing basketball, but I feel I really need to focus on my future and my degree.”