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Grovetown graduate skips commencement to compete in tournament

Posted: June 18, 2017 - 12:24am
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Zephin Mann, crossed a different kind of stage on his graduation. Instead of the James Brown Arena, Zephin wore his cap and gown for a lap on the BMX track.
Zephin Mann, crossed a different kind of stage on his graduation. Instead of the James Brown Arena, Zephin wore his cap and gown for a lap on the BMX track.

Grovetown graduate Zephin Mann took the walk to receive his diploma in his own unique way.

Instead of attending commencement at James Brown Arena with his classmates, Zephin spent the day doing what he loves: BMX racing.

Mann traveled to Nashville, Tenn., the weekend he was set to graduate, to compete in the national competition at the Music City BMX track.

"It's a pretty famous track," Mann said. "They have a national there every year and we have the top elites come out. We have olympians come out and it's a lot of fun."

Mann said it was worth missing commencement, and the decision to skip came with a price.

Mann's mother, Joy Mann, made a deal with him that if he decided not to walk, that he must take a lap in his Grovetown High School cap and gown at the Tennessee track on graduation day. And while Mann said it wasn't his favorite moment, it was something he said he felt he owed his mother.

"He's always been really, really indpenendent so I didn't want to be robbed of that portion of it," Joy Mann said.

"So the deal was, you're so independent that you owe me this at least, so I have some memories. That was the deal."

Joy said the lap around the track was meaningful, but it wasn't what she thought it would be.

"When we picked up his cap and gown from school, I was drivnig and he opened it up and he said ‘This cap feels really weird.' And I looked over and it hit me that he's graduating, that he's growing and that's when I started to cry," Joy Mann said. "It was fun to celebrate it with everyone else (in Tennessee) and hearing them cheer and be excited for him. But as a mom, it hit me more so when it was just him and I in the car and I realized, oh my gosh, you're growing up, it's done."

Having only entered the BMX racing world at 13, many years later than a majority of opponents his age, Zephin Mann has earned multiple BMX titles and was selected last year to attend the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., for BMX and regularly travels across the U.S. to participate in competitions.

Mann started at Grovetown High School his junior year when his family moved from Virginia after his father took a job in Columbia County. His senior year, Mann was dually enrolled full-time at Augusta University, as part of the school's Move Ahead When Ready Program.

When he was not attending college courses, Zephin Mann spent his time coaching and leading clinics at the Blanchard Woods BMX Park in Evans.

Zephin said his future is still up in the air, as the Grovetown graduate is still undecided whether he will go on to pursue a degree in kineseology to become a physical therapist, or if he will go pro in the BMX racing world. Either way, Zephin said a lot of people have helped him along the way.

"I want to say thank you to my parents for all they've done the past few years. Big time thank you to my sponsors, especially HRP Designs,for all the help and just helping me get better and giving me a good team to represent," Zephin said. "Thank you to all the Blanchard Woods volunteers who do work out here and gives us a good track to ride."

 

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