High School Sports

Five York Cougars -- all scholars -- recognized at college signing ceremony

York Comprehensive High School seniors (from left) Jessie Durflinger, Mikali Smith, Elia Sosa, Malcolm Kennedy and Amiyah Starnes all signed agreements to continue their athletic careers in college on April 25, 2018.
York Comprehensive High School seniors (from left) Jessie Durflinger, Mikali Smith, Elia Sosa, Malcolm Kennedy and Amiyah Starnes all signed agreements to continue their athletic careers in college on April 25, 2018.

Amiyah Starnes saw her grandfather hitting golf balls in a field and walked up to him. She took a club and hacked the ball into the distance. A natural swing, her grandfather noticed.

She surprised him by trying out for the eighth grade golf team, the first organized golf she played. Starnes surprised her grandfather again on Wednesday when she signed with Newberry College to play college golf.

“I’ve only been playing for five years, so for me to get offered, I feel like that’s good,” she said with a smile.

Starnes’ grandpa (and golf partner; they play all the time together at Pinetuck Golf Club) couldn’t linger long at Wednesday’s college signing ceremony in the York Comprehensive High School media center. He had a golf trip in Myrtle Beach to attend.

But he was there long enough to see Starnes sign the document that made her a college golfer, and to see four other York Cougars take similar actions. All five Cougars that were recognized have A and B grades – at least – in school and all five got academic scholarship money to supplement their athletic scholarships.

Starnes feels like she’s still at the tip of the iceberg of her golf game and is excited to get to work at Newberry. She plans on majoring in sports management, with a minor in physical education. She’s a straight-A student and a huge chunk of her college education at Newberry will be free.

“It’s not too big, it’s not too small. It’s just the right size for me,” said Starnes, echoing a theme that was common among her classmates who also signed Wednesday. “It was a great fit for me, mentally and physically.”

Malcolm Kennedy

York’s sweet-shooting guard will play college hoops for the Coker Cobras. Kennedy had offers from other Division II schools, as well as several junior colleges. He opted for Coker, in part out of familiarity.

“When I first got on campus it was beautiful,” said Kennedy. “But the city, before we got there, it just looked like York. It was like a sign, 'that should be a good place'.”

Kennedy has a 3.4 grade point average and is thinking about majoring in graphic design. He was an All-Region 3-4A and 4A All-State selection, and played in the North-South all-star game. He hopes to figure prominently for Coker, which is trying to establish an annually successful program under coach Aric Samuel.

“He’s very confident in me, just thinks I can change the program,” Kennedy said.

Malcolm Kennedy scored 21 points and made a couple of key late plays to help York edge Rock Hill in boys’ basketball Dec. 5, 2017. Year from Kennedy and Cougars coach Michael Gossett after the win.

Jessie Durflinger

Durflinger will swim at Columbia International University.

She really connected with the program’s head coach and plans on swimming the 50-yard freestyle and breaststroke, though that could be subject to change when she arrives on campus.

“It’s a smaller school so there is less pressure to make a name I guess,” she said.

Durflinger knew she would swim in college somewhere and also considered Lenoir-Rhyne and Gardner-Webb. Durflinger – who is an A/B student – wants to major in biology.

“Don’t know where I’m going with it, but definitely biology,” she said.

Mikali Smith

Smith, whose first name is pronounced “Me-Cali”, will join the track and field team at North Carolina’s Lees-McRae College.

“It’s not too big of a huge jump for me for switching schools,” said Smith. “I’m such a family person that I don’t have to worry about being in this big school.”

Smith said she’ll have to get used to the cooler weather in Banner Elk, N.C., just down the road from Boone, but she loved the mountainous and wooded environment that envelops the school’s campus.

Like the rest of Wednesday’s signees, Smith is an excellent student. She has all A’s on her report card and plans on majoring in health science so she can become a nurse practitioner. She was blown away by the huge crowd that filled York’s media center for the signing.

“I knew it was gonna happen, but I didn’t know this many people would come!” said Smith. “I was really overwhelmed by the love. Great turnout.”

Elia Sosa

Elia Sosa’s dreams of playing college soccer reemerged from a yearlong dormancy in a big way this past year. So, while she was surprised to be signing a college soccer agreement, she was equally thrilled. Sosa will play women’s soccer at Erskine.

“I couldn’t have done it without my parents or coaches along the way, pushing me harder,” she said.

Sosa just figured she would go to a two-year school, but something changed in her thinking this year and she decided to pursue a four-year school instead.

“I thought I was already too late,” she said.

Sosa, who plays forward and defense, wants to become an athletic trainer. She has A’s and B’s on her report card and she agreed with the vibe in Due West, S.C., home of Erskine.

“I like that it’s a small community,” she said. “If I went to a bigger college, I won’t show what I really have.”

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