Valdosta Daily Times

May 23, 2013

Signing day at VHS

Phillips, Smith headline group of signees

Ed Hooper
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — It was signing day galore at Valdosta High School Wednesday.

Six student-athletes signed national letter of intents to compete at the next level, while two VHS athletes both signed academic scholarships to Division I universities.

Headlined by the signings of Stormm Phillips, Valdosta’s highly touted athlete that competed in three sports, and basketball standout Clarence Smith, a large crowd packed into the Performing Arts Center at VHS to celebrate a large and successful day for the Wildcats.

“It is a wonderful day,” Valdosta boys’ basketball coach Antonio Haynes said. “I tell everyone, to me, this is better than winning a state championship any day. Of course you want to win, but to see kids go off to college and chase their dream, that is absolutely amazing.”

After four successful years of playing softball, dominating the basketball court and winning back-to-back state championships in Long Jump, Phillips, who posts one of the highest grade point averages at Valdosta High through the International Baccalaureate program, signed with Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, Fla. on a track scholarship.

“The best thing about Stormm, it is the same thing as Donjae Jones last year, is they are very good students. They were International Baccalaureate students with outstanding GPA’s and outstanding test scores,” track coach Alan Rodemaker said. “But Stormm’s best track is in front of her. She has never devoted a whole year to track. I get her in March and she only runs track for about two months a year and she has won the state the last two years in the Long Jump....That is scary talent wise.”

Smith, who was named All-Region last year and was an Honorable Mention for All-State, signed to play college basketball at Winston-Salem State, choosing the Rams, a Division II program, over Valdosta State and Albany State, to name a few.

“Clarence, that is where he wanted to go,” Haynes said. “He went up there on a visit, he had a good showing and now he is going. Like I said, it is kids going and fulfilling their dreams. So it is wonderful.”

From the girls’ basketball team, Shaneika Smith and Keneshia Kimbrough each signed letters of intent to play at North Country Community College (N.Y.). They joined teammate Taylor Hauser as players that signed this year. Hauser signed with Fort Scott Community College (Kan.) two weeks ago.

“It feels good to get those kids, who have been working hard for you, signed up,” girls’ basketball coach E.A. Wilcox said. “It feels real good. They worked real hard for us....Every year we try to get all of our seniors signed. That is the most rewarding part of it. At the end, get them signed and they go off to college and stay there — that is the most rewarding part.”

From the boys’ team, Coy Roberts signed with Middle Georgia College and Jeharn Thomas signed with Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn.

Also from the boys’ team, seniors Colin Kirkpatrick signed an academic scholarship to Georgia Tech, while Pierce Wallace signed an academic scholarship to the University of Georgia.

“That is the key part; You graduate kids and you want to see them succeed and do well in life, and to have kids going to Georgia and Georgia Tech, is totally awesome,” Haynes said. “Basketball is one thing, but they are student-athletes and to have kids go to school for academics is wonderful.”

For Phillips, one of the most recognizable athletes at VHS in recent years, she says her decision to attend Jacksonville was based on academics and athletics.

“They have won eight consecutive indoor/outdoor championships and then they’re private,” said Phillips of her decision. “And my major, accounting, they are really good with accounting stuff.”

Once she gets to Jacksonville, Phillips will be training for track on a year-round basis, something she didn’t do in high school because of her obligations to other sports.

Her goal: Be the best and possibly make it to  the Olympics.

“I want to be the next Jackie Joyner,” Phillips said.

For Smith, he said his decision to attend Winston-Salem State came after a workout at the school, and once he had a chance to visit the city and speak with the team.

Not to mention, the Rams plan to build their offense around the three-point shooter that from Valdosta.

“It is real exciting,” Smith said. “The coaches, the team and everything, they are all real good....The city was real nice, it surprised me actually. And for basketball, they send a lot of players overseas and to the league. They have a good history in basketball.”