The Nation Ford Falcons had three students ready themselves Wednesday to leave the nest next year and land in college athletics.
Baseball player Drake Durham, lacrosse player Marlo Vandiver and volleyball player Jessica Kemp all signed commitment letters to play their respective sports next year in college.
Durham, 17, is still getting adjusted to his new environment at Nation Ford High spending his senior year here after moving from Wisconsin. Durham will be playing baseball at Wichita State University next year and playing his senior season for the Falcons.
“I am looking forward to having a good season,” he said.
Durham will be pitching for the Shockers, but also plays first base and outfield. Originally from Kansas City, Mo., Durham was seen by the Shockers while playing in a tournament at the university. He had also considered Northern Illinois University and the University of Kansas, but said the Shockers pitching coaches helped to win him over.
“They have the best pitching coaches,” he said.
Durham plans on majoring in accounting.
Vandiver, 17, will be heading north to St. Francis University in Pennsylvania to play lacrosse. She has been playing lacrosse at Nation Ford since she was a freshman and is one of its first female lacrosse players to sign to play in college.
She said St. Francis was the perfect mix of what she was looking for. Vandiver said she was looking for a place that was big, but not too big, and one that was small, but again, not too small.
“The campus has a unique feel to it,” she said. “It’s small enough to know everyone, but there is enough diversity to it as well. The team is really nice and has a nice feel to it.”
Vandiver, who is graduating early and won’t return to NaFo for her senior season, also was looking at the Naval Academy, Duke University, Cornell University and Bucknell University. She has scored 52 goals and dished out 18 assists in 41 games played for the Nation Ford lacrosse team in her three years. She has also won 103 face offs and scooped up 211 ground balls during that time.
She will be playing midfield and defense in college, and plans on majoring in biology.
Kemp, who was recently named All-State player for the second consecutive year, officially signed with N.C. State. The future Wolfpack player, who is also 17, will be majoring in biology as well.
She was also recently named Region III Player of the Year and named to her third All-Region team. She is also in consideration for Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of South Carolina.
Kemp was heavily recruited by multiple ACC teams, as well as SEC and Ivy League teams, but it was the Wolfpack that caught her eye.
“It was a top-tier DI school and very competitive in athletics,” she said.
Kemp finished her three-year varsity career at Nation Ford with a school record 1,136 kills. She also had 341 blocks, 151 solo blocks and 62 aces while on the varsity team.
Kemp has also been named an Under Armor All-American and a Wendy’s Heisman Award winner for Nation Ford.
Other area signings:
▪ Chester’s Jake Wright made his future as a South Carolina Gamecocks baseball player official Wednesday evening when he signed on the dotted line. Wright committed to play for the Gamecocks and coach Chad Holbrook last season. Wright batted .422 for the Cyclones last spring, while striking out 67 batters in 43 innings on the mound.
▪ Northwestern’s Rachel Marion signed with Newberry to continue her promising softball career. Marion has made All-State each of the last two years while helping the Trojans to one of their most successful runs in school history. The senior catcher hit .483 last spring with seven home runs and 34 RBI.
▪ Indian Land’s Josh Evans signed to play baseball at USC-Lancaster.