High School Football

Five area athletes sign grants-in-aid to play in college

Wednesday was national signing day for the spring, and five Herald student-athletes signed grants-in-aid. They are heading to several college towns, but none is going farther from home than Nation Ford swimmer Paige Conrad. She signed with the University of Idaho.

Nation Ford boys' swimmer Seth Greene is going to Mars Hill, and his classmate, Macy Simpson, signed to play soccer at Gaffney's Limestone.

A pair of Rock Hill girls' basketball players - Sabrina Brabham and Shaquita Burns - signed with Hickory's Catawba Valley Community College. The program was started this year by coach Tommy Edwards and went 16-7.

Conrad has never been to Idaho, but while searching for a college she discovered the Vandals have a "pretty good'' women's swimming program. Conrad applied and was accepted academically. She began e-mailing Idaho's swimming coach and was invited to join the team which needed female swimmers in her specialties - the 100 and 200 butterflies.

"I'm calling this my mini-adventure because it's so far away," said Conrad, the daughter of Andy and Jennifer Conrad. "I feel like I can go in and compete right away. That's one of the reasons I chose the school over South Carolina.''

Conrad plans to major in psychology.

Greene stepped into a good situation last year after transferring to Nation Ford from Rock Hill. He joined a Falcons' boys' team that won the Class AAAA state championship, the first in any sport at the 3-year-old school.

His events are the 50 and 100 freestyles. He's considering trying the 200 fly and breaststroke.

"It was exciting coming here and meeting new people, and it was exciting being on a state championship team,'' said Green, the son of Tim and Emily Greene. "Winning the championship was an amazing feeling.

"I heard from Mars Hill's coach in an e-mail. We kept corresponding, and he was showing a lot of interest. He put together an academic/athletic package that me and my parents were very pleased with.''

Green is undecided on a major.

Simpson is the third Nation Ford girls' soccer player to get a scholarship. She was spotted by Limestone's coach at a summer tournament in Mt. Pleasant. Simpson was asked to visit the school with her parents. She was told there would be an athletic/academic package when she got there.

"It was a good package, and this is a good opportunity,'' said Simpson, the daughter of Paul and Rea Simpson. "I'm not sure yet what position I'll play. I play center-midfield and forward here, but I'll play wherever Limestone puts me.

"I started at Fort Mill my freshman year, and I've been on the Nation Ford team the last three. It has been great. The coaches let me help teach the new girls who had never played. They told me to coach them, to help them learn the game.''

Simpson will major in either nursing or mathematics, depending on whether she decides to go into teaching.

The signings at Rock Hill were just as festive, and first-year Lady Bearcats coach Shawn Thompson was pleased to send a pair of her players to college. Both said they need to work on their grades and SAT scores so they can finish college at a four-year school.

Burns, a 5-foot-7 point guard, will play the same position for the Lady Buccaneers. She was unsure if a scholarship was forthcoming until Thompson convinced Edwards to take a look at her players.

"It's crazy,'' said Burns, the daughter of Andrea Burns. "I didn't think I'd sign this year. I went on a visit and liked everything about the school.''

"There is competition coming back at my position. That's fine. I plan to go as hard as I can at everything I do once I get there. I'm going to focus just as much on my grades as I do basketball.''

She wants to major in digital graphic design.

Brabham, at 6-feet, gives Edwards the post player he was looking for. He starts three post players and views Brabham as a power forward.

"The school sort of reminds me of being a Bearcat ... like being home'' said Brabham, the daughter of Suberina Brabham and her adoptive mom, Linda Dukes. "I'm excited about being part of a new program and for the opportunity to pull up my SAT score.

"I know there will be competition for playing time, but I'll get mine if I play hard. I feel really good about this.''

Brabham said she will major in accounting.