Four different athletes. Four different sports. Four different colleges.
And one very proud high school.
“Seeing them sign to continue their sports career while they’re continuing their education — it’s like the best thing,” said Sunlake High School athletic director Reesa Pledge. Pledge helped moderate a special signing event in the school’s gymnasium on April 30, where four students earned praise from their coaches and cheers from their friends and families.
And then they signed commitments to play their sport of choice at the next level.
Basketball at PHSC
Justin Pipes wasn’t thinking about college basketball when he started playing the game at age 6. But now that it’s his future, he feels grateful for the opportunity.
“I’m just truly blessed,” Pipes said.
He’s blessed with a full scholarship to Pasco-Hernando State College, and blessed with talent at the shooting guard position.
But he’s aware that the competition is tougher at the college level than what he faced during high school.
To prepare for the extra difficulty, he’s already making some changes to prepare for his college career.
For instance, he’s hitting the gym every day to put on 20 pounds or more of muscle as he prepares to face bigger and faster players, and to take advantage of opportunities to score for his new team.
But the opportunities in the classroom are also important to Pipes.
He plans to study business in the classroom even as he studies his opponents on the court. He chose PHSC because they have a strong program, and he’s looking forward to the task of facing college-level players and matching his growing skills against theirs.
“It’s a challenge, but I’m willing to face that challenge and make myself better as a person, and as a player,” he said.
Golf at Trinity Baptist College
Jake Roberts’ golf swing is taking him to the next level. He enjoys the pressure — and the risk — that comes with an individual sport like golf.
“I like it better than team sports, because if you mess up it’s all on yourself. It’s no one else’s fault,” Roberts said.
It’s also on the individual when they succeed, and Roberts’ talents will bring him to Jacksonville’s Trinity Baptist College on a partial scholarship. Now he’ll face longer, harder courses than he tackled in high school. Roberts plans to face them by focusing on his own improvement, spending hours practicing and working with a personal trainer to stay in shape.
He’ll study sports management in college, and would like to consider broadcasting opportunities as well. But he won’t be thinking much about his college competition. The key to his success has been managing his own game rather than his opponents on any given day.
“I just think about myself. I don’t ever think about anybody else. I just think about playing the course every day,” Roberts said.
Football at Southeastern University
Logan Wolfe was a standout fullback and outside linebacker at Sunlake, and he’ll be playing football for Southeast University in Lakeland.
But not at either of those positions. He’ll be playing safety.
“It’s exciting,” Wolfe said about his new job on the gridiron. “Safety’s a position I’ve always wanted to play because my idols like Sean Taylor (the Washington Redskins player who passed away in 2007) and Ed Reed (longtime Baltimore Raven) played safety. So it’s pretty exciting to get a chance to play what they played.”
To play that position, he’s adding some weight in order to match up better with the competition.
His eventual goal is to become a firefighter. But until then, Wolfe will be playing defense at the college level.
That might be intimidating to some incoming freshmen, but he feels like the Seahawks’ football success has prepared him well to tackle the new challenge. The coaches worked him and his teammates hard, he said, and they expect a lot out of each player. He might not have realized it at the time, but it got him ready for the next stage of his career.
“I did not know that it would prepare me to play at this level, but now I realize all the stuff they did, and I’m forever grateful for all my coaches and what they did for me,” Wolfe said.
Soccer at Corning Community College
Cobi Shirmohammad’s first long journey is an important one. He’ll be attending Corning Community College in New York.
“I’ve lived here for 18 years, and I’ve actually never been on a plane before, so it’s going to be a trip,” Shirmohammad said.
Just getting back on the pitch will be a trip for the midfielder/striker, since he’s been out of commission since breaking his collarbone in the state semifinal. He’s already back up to 95 percent movement and was cleared to play a couple of weeks ago, which is just a few months after the injury. The time of the field hurt in terms of not getting in time with the Rangers, his club team. But it did let him focus on studying which college opportunity would be right for him, getting his schoolwork in order and taking care of business away from the game. In college he plans on studying sports medicine.
Now that he’s ready to return, he plans on making sure his stamina and conditioning are up to par, especially since he’ll be dealing with a colder climate. But he’s excited about playing college soccer, and hopes his community college time turns into another opportunity at a four-year school.
“I think it should take me to the next level after this to complete my college career, and hopefully move forward from there,” Shirmohammad said.
Published May 6, 2015