“I love to lead,” said Rock Hill High School senior Robert Mills Thursday morning, a statement of intent that no doubt swelled the chests of the administrators and teachers looking on.
Mills and three of his classmates were signing National Letters of Intent to play their respective sports in college when he was asked what he intended to study in college. Mills said he wanted to study business management so that he could become a leader, prompting his ear-catching statement about loving to lead.
The impressive senior will bring that attitude to Limestone University next year and no doubt impact the school’s wrestling program. Mills won the region’s 152-pound championship and placed fourth at the state championship in his third straight trip, earning him offers from Coker and Newberry as well. But he liked Limestone the best.
“It’s not like other programs,” said Mills, the son of Missy and Robert Mills, Jr. “They make you work and that’s what I’m looking for. I’m always looking for a challenge.”
Rock Hill seniors Jaclyn Baker, Amber Worthy and Tyler Wilk will also undertake that challenge this fall when they too hit college campuses.
Bearcat distance running standout Baker didn’t stray far from home; she’ll run for Winthrop in college. Baker won the 1600-meter in Region 3 and earned All-Region in cross country and track and field this year as a senior.
Baker also had interest from Queens University, Converse College and Wofford College. She was really interested in Wofford, but Winthrop offered more money and proximity.
“My mom didn’t want me to go too far,” she said. “It’s right down the road so that’s cool.”
She first talked to Winthrop coach Ben Paxton at the Winthrop Invitational back in the fall. Baker officially visited in January and enjoyed the experience, especially meeting Winthrop long distance record-setter Jeanne Stroud.
The daughter of Roseanne and David Baker sports a GPA over 4.0, which earned her some academic money in addition to her partial athletic scholarship.
Worthy signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Anderson University on a partial cross country and track and field scholarship. Worthy was an All-Region cross country runner after finishing 10th at the region meet.
Worthy, the daughter of Tammy Talbot, wanted to go to Anderson but they hadn’t offered her until she received one from North Greenville. Worthy will study elementary education at the school. She said she’s always wanted to teach, a belief that was strengthened by her recent internship through the Teacher Cadet program where she was a teacher’s assistant at Independence Elementary School.
The remaining tuition not covered by Worthy’s athletic scholarship will be covered by the academic money she receives. She currently boasts a 4.6 grade point average (on the 5.0 scale).
Wilk’s case is an interesting one. The 6-foot-9 senior didn’t play basketball for Rock Hill High School this past season, but will play for Spartanburg Methodist this coming season. Wilk didn’t get into specifically why he didn’t play, offering only that it was a coach’s decision and that he respected that decision.
All the same, Pioneers coach Jeff Brookman was intrigued enough by Wilk’s size to give the big man a shot.
“He’s going to be very effective around the basket once he gets back into playing,” said Brookman. “Once he gets back into shape and gets his timing back, I think he’ll continue to improve every day.”
The school’s interest in Wilk was sparked by a recruit questionnaire that he filled out. The faceless prospect on the paper stood out because of his height. From there, Brookman followed up, inviting Wilk down to the school for a visit and a tryout in mid-April. Initially a nerve-wracking experience, the trip went pretty well.
“I was out of shape for a while,” he said, “so I worked my hardest to get back in shape.”
Wilk, who was joined Thursday by his parents Lori and David Wilk, played AAU ball with Rock Hill girls’ basketball coach Kenny Orr, but knee problems due to rapid growth cost him time on the court. The big man appears to have his legs finally under him though and Brookman is looking forward to adding him to a team that finished third in the nation at the junior college level last year, but whose tallest player was only 6-foot-6.
Wilk said he’s interested in special education but Spartanburg Methodist doesn’t have that program. Instead, he said he’d focus on business, something he’s studied through the Virtual Enterprise program at Rock Hill.
Bret McCormick • 329-4032.