By Chris McCarthy
Hard work in the athletic arena and in the classroom recently paid off for several Southside High seniors.
Megan Hendrick, Ashton Downey, Becca Feazell, Kelsey Patterson, Hunter Nails, Jordan Kilgo and Austin Winningham signed college scholarships on Apr. 12 at the SHS auditorium.
Downey will play tennis at Snead State.
“I’ve had the pleasure of coaching Ashton for the past three years, and she’s the first kid I’ve coached who’s gotten a scholarship,” said SHS tennis coach Zack Blume. “Nobody on the team works harder than Ashton, and I know that she’ll do an outstanding job at Snead and wherever she goes after that.”
Feazell will play softball at Wallace State-Hanceville. As a third baseman this season, Feazell has helped the Lady Panthers to a 18-12 record as of Apr. 17 and a current No. 8 ranking in the Class 6A state polls.
“Becca’s been playing softball since she was five years old, so she’s been playing for 13 years,” said SHS softball coach Angie Sanders. “That also means travel ball all summer and all fall. It pays to work when no one else is looking and be successful when you need to be, and that describes Becca. Along with her teammates, Becca’s been the heart of our program for the past several years. She’s super athlete who is very gifted and talented and works hard to be a leader. I’m very proud of her and thankful to be a part of her achievement.”
Hendrick will play soccer at Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C.
“I think very highly of Megan ands think that she’s an amazing athlete,” said SHS girls soccer coach Tiffany Cargill. “Her dedication and work ethic translates onto the field, and I’m excited to see her go on to the next level.”
“We’re looking forward to having Megan on our team and we think she’ll bring a lot to the program,” added Dr. Chris Carmichael, Bob Jones women’s soccer head coach. “We’ve won the [NCCAA Division II] national championship three out of the past five years, and think Megan will help us continue that success.”
Patterson will play basketball at Gadsden State. Patterson was named to the ASWA Class 6A second team this past season after averaging 18 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.1 steals while shooting 60 percent from the field. She helped the 2016-17 Lady Panthers to a 23-4 record, an area championship and a berth in the Class 6A substate playoffs.
“We’re very excited for Kelsey today to be able to continue her basketball career,” said SHS girls basketball coach Kim Nails. “She’s been one of the most dynamic players to come through Southside and one of the few to create an opportunity to play at the next level in women’s basketball. Kelsey’s one of the most aggressive players I’ve ever coached and one of the few players in the program to score 1,000 career points. We’re proud of Kelsey and we look forward to her achievements in the future.”
Kilgo will play football at Jacksonville State University as a long snapper.
“Jordan came to us a year ago, and he and his family were 100 percent all-in with our program,” said SHS football coach Ron Daugherty. “In my whole life, I’ve never seen any as devoted to long snapping as Jordan. We’re very excited about Jordan going to JSU and earning a spot on the football team, and I’m very proud for him to have this opportunity.”
Winningham will play baseball at Snead State.
“One thing about Austin is that he’s a such gifted all-around athlete,” said SHS baseball coach Blake Bone. “He can pick up any ball and be good at it, and he’s been asked to do a lot things in numerous sports here for a lot of years. Whether it’s running back an interception in football or running down a ball in the outfield in baseball, it’s a thing of beauty. To me, Austin defines what an athlete looks like, and he’s been a pleasure to coach. I couldn’t be prouder of Austin and I’m excited to see what he can do at the next level.”
Hunter Nails will run long-distance track at the University of Alabama-Huntsville.
“I’m so proud of this young man for his achievements,” said SHS track and field coach Ray Cargill. “In my six years at here at Southside, I’ve never seen an athlete who worked as hard as Hunter, both at practice and outside of practice. I’ve never had to tell Hunter what to do; he knows what he needs to do to excel in all of his races. His work ethic is unbelievable. That makes my job as coach a while lot easier, and I can see Hunter as a coach in the future in the way he helps our younger athletes. UAH is getting a gem, because if he gets any better than he already is, I honestly believe that Hunter will be running in the Olympic Games.”
Nails is a two-time first team All-State selection in cross country, outdoor track and indoor track and a two-time state championship in indoor track and a two-time sectional champion in cross country and outdoor track. Nails currently holds eight records in cross country course throughout the state and five records in outdoor track. He also is a five-time MVP of the annual Etowah County cross country meet.
“It’s an incredible honor to see one of your athletes perform at such a high level,” said SHS cross country coach Keith Earls. “There’s basically one play in the cross county and long-distance playbooks, and that’s to run. The harder you work in running, the more rewarding the results, and Hunter certainly puts in a lot of effort. We’re here today to recognize and honor his dedication. As coaches, we hope we can influence our student-athletes as much as possible, and however much influence I’ve had on Hunter, he’s had a thousand times more influence on me.”