BY CORY WOODROOF
For Nolensville High School, it continues to be a time of firsts.
Wednesday morning, the Knights celebrated six of their seniors off to compete athletically at the next level for National Signing Day.
It’s Nolensville’s first time to hold a signing day in February, with volleyball standout Lundyn Coffman the school’s first to sign with a college last November.
Football players Brandon Wharton II (Murray State), Colton Dooley (West Point), Tim Stayskal (ETSU) and Ethan Mickelsen (Bethel), volleyball standout Alyssa Coats (Birmingham Southern) and tennis standout Will Riddle (Martin Methodist) will all head to play collegiate athletics.
The students above are Nolensville’s first to be able to achieve their hopes through the school’s many athletic programs.
“This moment’s pretty important to me just because, ever since I was a little kid, I always dreamed about going to play college football,” Dooley said. “Seeing all my hard work pay off is really special to me.
“There were a lot of times where no one saw the work that was being put in, so it got frustrating at times, but I hung in there, and it paid off. So I’m really happy that this all happened.”
The decision for Dooley to play for Army came through a connection with a member of the Knights football staff.
“Before I was being recruited by West Point, I really never had an interest in going into the Army or anything,” Dooley said.
“Coach Childs, our quarterbacks coach, he had a connection with West Point, so they started recruiting me, and it really opened the door to the idea of going into the military…beyond just football, and how fulfilling a career for me…[I could] have good an education. That’s really what ultimately led me to that decision.”
Wharton II, cousin of former Cal receiver Vic Wharton, will be Nolensville’s first quarterback to play college football.
“It means I’ve just got to keep working hard, everyday,” Wharton II said in representing the school as its first D-1 quarterback.
Stayskal, a two-way athlete, will head to East Tennessee State as an athlete, with his on-field positioning to be determined.
“Hard work pays off,” he said of what Nolensville’s taught him.
For Mickelsen, he’s learned about hard work, dedication and to treat his team like a brotherhood by playing for the Knights and hopes the school can continue to send athletes to play after graduation.
“It’s the first of many, hopefully,” he said. “We’ve got something built here, and it could take off in the next couple years.”
Coats is the school’s second volleyball player to sign after Coffman, and Riddle is the first tennis player to sign. They both represent milestones for their respective programs.
“It means a lot…it confirms all the work [I’ve put in], and makes me want to work harder at the next level,” Coats said of being a forerunner for the volleyball program and school.
“It’s definitely awesome to represent the school,” Riddle said, hoping this is a tradition that will last a long time for the school and its tennis program.
Coats said she feels that the school came in with a bit of a theoretical disadvantage in the eyes of onlookers for how the school would succeed on the athletic stage.
Considering who was on the school’s stage Wednesday, that doubt is now silenced.
“We all proved that theory wrong,” she said. “It just shows how close a group we are, and that we all worked really hard for this.”