Mikial Fourney’s fully paid college tuition at Mars Hill University is a big deal for his family, especially Makeiya Fourney.
Makeiya is Mikial’s twin sister. Her brother’s football and academic success mean Mars Hill is paying for his school, easing the family’s financial burden of having two kids in college at the same time.
“It gives my sister a better opportunity to make her dreams come true as well,” Fourney said Wednesday morning.
Fourney was one of four Lewisville Lions recognized on Feb. 14 in the school’s gymnasium. The entire student body filled one side of the gym to acknowledge Fourney, Chloe Thomas, Jaylen McFadden and Quentin Sanders for the opportunities they have to continue playing sports in college. A fifth signee, Josh Belk, was unable to join the group because he’s already at Clemson after enrolling early. Belk had a 5 a.m. football workout Wednesday morning that he couldn’t miss.
Fourney will play safety or linebacker at Mars Hill, located outside of Asheville. He had interest from bigger schools like Furman and Liberty, but those opportunities didn’t pan out. Mars Hill did because of the coaching staff’s hustle to get Fourney, a two-time All-State player in football and basketball, into the fold.
Fourney’s excellent grades (4.1 GPA) translated into academic scholarships that will cover the remainder of his tuition that wasn’t covered by football money.
“This is a big moment. I’m very excited because I get to get my collegiate career started,” he said. “I’m gonna miss high school football, playing on Friday nights. But it’s nothing like playing on a Saturday. I’m just blessed with the opportunity.”
Former Lewisville Lion Mac Means has also enrolled at Mars Hill, a fact that interested Fourney too. Fourney expects to play immediately at the Division II school.
Watching Thomas dominate local softball fields for the last five years, it felt like her college signing day would never come. But it did in November -- when she actually signed her National Letter of Intent -- and Wednesday she was recognized alongside the three football players.
Thomas will play softball at Limestone, likely pitching or playing middle infield. Attending a camp at the school sealed the deal for her.
“I fell in love with it and I knew I would get a fair opportunity to play,” said Thomas, a three-time All-State selection.
Thomas has straight A’s in school and got academic scholarships from Limestone to help offset the cost of school. The senior wants to major in political science, then go into law after graduating from Limestone. She recently sat in on a deposition for a medical lawsuit, which caught her interest.
McFadden is about as competitive a person as you’ll ever see on a football field. That kind of mindset will be welcome at St. Andrews University, in Laurinburg, N.C. The NAIA school’s football program is only in its second year and McFadden, a standout linebacker with a considerable nasty streak, can make an imprint on the program’s culture during its formidable days.
“I’m ecstatic,” he said. “I’m ready to get up there and just start working.”
McFadden will major in education, with a focus on either mathematics or social studies. He wants to become a teacher and coach, and knows that mathematics is a daunting subject for many people, which should help his job prospects. McFadden will study and learn and play football in an environment that feels familiar.
“It just reminded me of home, Lewisville,” he said. “The community is involved, everybody on the team loves each other. It was just easy for me.”
Football standout Sanders heads off to Pennsylvania for two years of junior college football at Lackawanna College. The standout running back will play slot receiver or defensive back, and he said he intends to improve his already considerable speed. There will be one clear focus at Lackawanna, though.
“Academics, mostly,” Sanders said. “I like the way they ran things. The way the coaches are set up, they’re not gonna let you slack. That’s what I need, to not be able to slack.”
Sanders, an offensive machine last season for the Lions, had interest from FBS and Division II schools alike. Two years in the juco ranks should shore up his academics and transform him into an FBS recruit in every way. He has family in Pennsylvania and Lackawanna isn’t as far from South Carolina as the Kansas or Iowa junior colleges.
“I still think I’m gonna miss home a little bit, get homesick a little bit,” said Sanders. “But I ain’t coming home.”