To the Parents, Athletes, Fans, and Citizens of Heard County,
In response to the recent article posted on the HeardCitizen.com, I would like to reassure that your child is not only in great academic hands but also at a great place to have athletic success.
For some reason, there has always been a feeling that in order to get the exposure needed to obtain athletic scholarships, an athlete needs to be at a larger school.
I can assure you that this is by no means true. I, on the other hand, have seen that being at a smaller school has more advantages.
At Heard County, we as coaches have to invest more in our athletes in the early years than a coach would have to at a larger school.
The experience gained while having to play at the varsity level as a freshman and sophomore far outweighs the experience gained by playing freshman and junior varsity ball.
These young athletes have to learn to play correctly against older, stronger, and faster upper classmen in order to have minimal success.
By the time these young players are juniors and seniors; they have sharpened their skills as well as improved physically due to maturity and growth. Some of the greatest athletes to play college athletics have come from communities like Heard County.
College athletics is a business. These recruiters have a job and responsibility to go out and find the very best student athletes to bring into their program. As coaches at Heard County, we take a great deal of pride in getting the names, stats and films out to prospective colleges.
In my ten years of coaching at Heard County, we have been blessed to have had 15 or more players be given the opportunity to play football beyond the high school level.
Yes, as coaches, we had to do our part in getting names, stats and highlights to prospective colleges but it was the athletes themselves that created those opportunities.
Take Thomas “Red” Keith for instance. He came into his senior year with no scholarship offers. He went out and put together a great senior year and signed a division-1 scholarship at Central Michigan. Red Keith could have decided to leave Heard County but he chose to stay and forever be remembered as one of the great athletes to attend our school.
Carlos Brown was another great athlete who could have chosen to attend a larger high school. However, he chose to stay at Heard and play with the guys he grew up with. Carlos went on to play for one of College football’s most renowned programs.
Dontavius Jackson signed with the University of Georgia after sitting out his senior year due to injury. Yes, Dontavius made a poor decision while attending UGA and had to pay the consequences; however, did you know that he has already graduated from the University of Alabama-Birmingham and that he will be working on his masters while playing his senior year of football?
What about Kyle Yates who played four years at West Georgia and graduated this past spring in physical education? What about Darvel Nelson who very few thought would graduate from Heard County High School?
It was the love and support from our teachers, coaches and administrators who worked over and beyond to help get him to Albany State.
You do not get an entire community working together for the betterment of our kids at larger schools like you get at Heard County.
Yes, I am talking mostly about football players but what about players from other sports like Ann O’Neal. She played basketball at Heard County and went on to play and graduate from Brown University.
At one basketball game this past season, we had five division-1 college coaches in our gym. Last Year, we lost the number one ranked receiver in the state to a larger school. That athlete eventually signed with the University of Auburn. Did you know that the offer from Auburn along with many others occurred way before he transferred to the larger school?
The great athletes who come through our system and go on to play at the next level become immortal legends in our entire community. The Rodney Wilkerson’s, Carlos Brown’s, Sonny Archer’s, Ann O’Neal’s, and many others will be forever remembered in Heard County while some great athletes will be nothing more than a blip on a radar.
Sometimes, we are going to lose some great players because of moves and unavoidable situations. When these moves happen it hurts and we wish those athletes the very best.
If these moves are because an athlete or a parent believes that they need to move for more exposure or athletic opportunities, then these families need to reevaluate their decisions and consider the facts. The bottom line is that if players are good enough, colleges will find them.
Heard County Athletic Director