By MARINA WATERS
Six Daniel Boone High School student athletes looked toward the future as they signed a national letter of intent on Wednesday, Nov. 14, to continue their academic and athletic careers.
Bayleigh Carmichel will play basketball at Trevecca Nazarene University, Nick Brock will play golf at Milligan College, Erin Bruce and Marley McCoy will both run cross country and track at Tusculum College and Matt Huff and Graydon Hull will both run track and cross country at Milligan College.
Carmichel’s time as a Lady Trailblazer has been laden with region and tournament honors; last second, 3-point shots; and a District 1-AAA Championship title. But to Boone Head Girls Basketball Coach Beau Hauldren, what Carmichel’s team says about her might be the highest honor.
Ahead of her senior basketball season, Carmichel was selected as the team’s captain.
“What an honor it’s been to be able to watch her grow into a basketball player and a great student the last four years,” Hauldren said at Carmichel’s signing. “She’s a leader. She was voted by our team this past fall to be our team captain. I think that says a lot about her. She’s dedicated her time to becoming a great leader.”
The basketball team captain is a two-time District 1-AAA Tournament Most Valuable Player and was named to the All-Region 1-AAA Girls Basketball Tournament Team in 2017 and 2018. But her recent decision to take her talents and leadership skills to Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville wasn’t only based on basketball; Carmichel said she also chose Trevecca for its pre-med opportunities.
“I love the coach that’s there and his philosophy on winning but being a good team,” Carmichel said. “The teammates, all the girls I met down there are super sweet and super nice. I fit in really well.
“They have a pre-med school which is what I really was looking for in a university because at the end of the day, your academics are what matters.”
It’s been a year of improvement on the green for Brock, who will be putting for the Milligan Buffaloes come the fall 2019.
Daniel Boone Golf Coach Scott Martin said Brock improved his stroke average by 25 strokes since his freshman year.
He also said the Boone senior shot 73 out of 18 holes at the conference tournament this year.
“I saw the potential. And he’s worked hard at it,” Martin said at the signing. “He’s improved greatly. You never have to worry about Nick not listening to you. I never had to worry about him letting something go in one ear and out the other. He listens to you and pays attention, absorbs it and does what has to be done. He’s just a quality player.”
But an improved golfer isn’t all Milligan will receive in Brock; the golfer earned the Dale Jarrett Award, which is an award based on an athlete’s make up outside of the athletic arena.
“This award is given, not on the basis of golf, but on the basis of character and integrity and being a quality individual,” Martin said. “Nick won that this year and he’s going to do well at Milligan. Milligan is doing well to get him. I have no question in my mind that he’s going to be successful.”
For Bruce, choosing Tusculum as her school of choice might have been the easiest decision she’s ever made. The high school senior said the small atmosphere and an overwhelmingly positive feeling in Greenville made her decision one that called for very little second guessing.
“When I first went to Tusculum, when I first stepped there, I just knew,” Bruce said. “It has a really small atmosphere, which I really like. All the coaches and teams there were really good too.
“I’m excited to go to Tusculum.”
During Bruce’s time at Boone, she’s been named a two-time all-conference and all-region runner.
Bruce and her fellow Tusculum signee, Marley, also competed in two state championships, one in which tallied the highest finish in Boone history in Class 5A. The two senior runners were also part of the Boone team that out ran Dobyns-Bennett and Science Hill to win the Big 7 Conference Championship for the first time in Boone history. And those accolades, paired with hard work, makes Len Jeffers, the cross country and track coach, consider the girls tools to raise the bar for the girls team in Gray.
“They came in hungry, a little wide-eyed, but they knew where they wanted to go, what they wanted to do as far as this program was concerned,” Jeffers said. “In the four years they’ve been here, they’ve taken this girls program to a whole other level.”
McCoy has seen her share of school history made during her running career at Boone. Now that the cross country season has wrapped up and the track season looms ahead, McCoy said she’s ready to give it her all for the Trailblazers one last time.
“I’m kind of sad about it. — it’s our last season,” McCoy said. “but I’m really excited to go all out for it because I’m going to try my best.”
McCoy has competed in three state championships and has received four all-conference honors as a cross country runner. She was also part of the 4-by-800 relay team that placed third at state and broke the Boone record by around 20 seconds. And now, she’ll be heading to Tusculum, along with Bruce, to continue her athletic career.
“I’m really relieved about that,” McCoy said about going to Tusculum with Bruce. “I’m super excited. It was a really good bonus I would say. I’m really happy about it.”
Jeffers said Bruce and McCoy have shown more than just effort throughout their years at Boone.
“We’re very proud of them. I mean, the dedication, the commitment, you just can’t describe it … I know there are probably times when they could have left at 3 o’clock and went to the park or the swimming pool, or the lake or something, but they were here every day with their teammates setting an example and not giving in. They wanted to work for what they wanted to strive for.”
Like Bruce and McCoy, Huff will be joined by a fellow friend and teammate, Hull, as he signed with Milligan to run cross country and track. Huff also added that the atmosphere at Milligan along with his academic plans for the future led him to elect to become a Buffalo.
“They had the degree I wanted, occupational therapy. They’re very prestigious for it not only in the region but in the state.
“They just have a great bond with their team. Their team environment was ridiculous. Everyone knows everybody. It’s a small school — not much different than here. You get to know everyone easily and that’s something I was looking for.”
But before he heads off to Milligan, Huff, who has been part of the team that tallied three-straight conference wins and region championships at Boone, said he’s looking forward to one last run with his Trailblazer teammates this spring.
“We’ve got goals, but the work’s never done until we graduate,” Huff said. “Then you’ve always got more work to do. For me, it’s just another stepping stone and I’m ready to step on it.”
Hull added his name as the second Milligan runner of the day to sign with the Buffaloes. For Hull, Jeffers said, this day was a big one due to the number of obstacles the runner has overcome throughout his time as a Trailblazer.
“Graydon has dealt with several set backs. The first couple of years, it seemed like he was just getting over the hump and then something would happen,” Jeffers said. “But he never gave in, he never gave up. He kept doing what was asked from him. He loved it. He wanted to stay with it. This year’s been his most successful in cross country and over the last month just continuously rolled up the latter.”
The all-region, all-conference and state runner, like Huff, said the atmosphere at Milligan was a draw for the senior runner. Before he and Huff head off to continue being teammates, Hull said he’s ready to continue the success the Boone boys team has compiled throughout his time in Gray.
“It’s really humbling to make it through the four years,” Hull said, “and have this last season to go out and do something good.”