Columbia County continues to be a popular travel destination for college coaches.
Georgia State University women's soccer coach Dom Martelli visited last week. Although he had trouble finding Greenbrier High School, he reached the Brierpatch just in time to see senior Brooks Daniel sign a letter-of-intent to attend the Atlanta school on a soccer scholarship.
Charles Welch was a bit more familiar with the local roads. The Aiken Technical School basketball coach went to Evans High School last week, where he watched senior Teddy Ingram sign a letter-of-intent to attend Aiken Tech on a basketball scholarship next fall.
The signings marked another leg of the journey for the Columbia County athletes.
"It's always been my dream to play in college, if not in the pros," Daniel said.
The Lady Wolfpack's team captain is confident about suiting up for the Division I Panthers, but after Wednesday's signing ceremony, she recalled more humble beginnings at the Brierpatch.
"When I first came out for the team as a freshman, I was a little nervous. I wasn't sure I was going to make it," said Daniel, who earned a spot on the squad and became a four-year starter at Greenbrier.
Despite playing two years at the sweeper position before moving to forward, Daniel scored 62 goals to finish her prep career as the all-time leading scorer for the Lady Wolfpack.
"There's no telling how high her goal scoring would have gone had she played up front all four years," Heider said. "What was so great about what Brooks was able to do here is that she did so many other things for this team, other than just score goals. She knew how to take control on the field, and she's not afraid to take charge."
Daniel's main asset is speed, but she is prepared to get physical at Georgia State. "At the college level you get to push more, so I'll have to learn to be more aggressive," she said.
Ingram is taking a big step with a short trip across the Savannah River to play for Aiken Tech. The shooting guard won't even have to adjust to a new mascot, as Aiken Tech and Evans are both the Knights.
After the Thursday signing, Ingram admitted there are some things he wants to change. While he was a defensive standout with Evans, and also one of the best prep 3-point shooters in the area, he is determined to sharpen all of his skills.
"Defense, free-throw shooting; basically, I don't think I'm the best player ever, so I want to improve all parts of my game," he said.
That's exactly what Ingram has done at Evans. He has been a varsity player since his sophomore season, and steadily developed into a college-caliber performer.
"Teddy is such a good athlete and such a good basketball player. He has the ability to shoot, and he's an all-around player," Aiken Tech's coach Welch said. "We're looking for him to carry on the things he's done at Evans at the next level. He'll be a tremendous addition to our program."
Aiken Tech has dominated Region X, with three straight region titles. Next year the Knights move up to Division I in the National Junior College Athletic Association.
"That's a big factor in our recruiting of Teddy," Welch said. "In fact, many of our kids we've recruited in this area are not only excited about our tradition, they really want to be part of taking the next step."
Ingram says he's up for the challenge.
"Playing in Division I is going to be harder, but Aiken Tech has won the conference title the last three years, so it shouldn't be that much different," he said. "I see a lot of potential with this team. I'll do whatever I need to do to help."
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