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Signees set the standard

Last week, five high school seniors signed letters of intent to play sports at the collegiate level. Cumberland’s T.J. Jackson will play football for Virginia Tech, while Duke Ebony Jones will run track for St. Andrews University. Buckingham players Leon Ragland (Fairmont State University) and Michael Mabry (James Madison University) and Prince Edward’s Delquan Bigelow (Bridgewater College) will also continue to the next level of playing football.

I remember watching Ragland, Mabry and Bigelow play for the first time in 2013 right after I accepted the position of sports editor at The Herald. I envisioned reporting on kids who were talented but still made frequent mistakes. I was wrong.

At the time, Ragland played quarterback, instead of mainly running back. I was in awe of his perfect spiral passes. I was shocked by the amount of force behind Mabry when he tackled, and I was clearly confused that I was at a high school game when I watched Bigelow speed down the field as if he was a pro in the NFL.

A year passed, and that’s when I discovered Jones. I saw her run at a track meet, and you could hear not one fan cheering for her. It wasn’t because she wasn’t good — it was because fans, too, were in awe of her ability to speed past competitors.

Then came the first time I laid eyes on Jackson. Being 5-foot-1, I was completely in disbelief when I encountered the 6-foot-8 offensive lineman. Could it be that this kid was only in high school? He was, and every time I saw him on the field he dominated.

I could go on for days about these seniors’ athletic abilities and what all they have accomplished in sports.

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to watch them grow, and I think their most important role in our community has been — and always will be — bringing hope to other local kids who want to pursue sports and their dreams.

These players have set the bar high, have shown the community just how much hard work goes into making a dream turn into reality and have paved the way for generations to come.

HANNAH DAVIS is sports editor of The Farmville Herald. She is also editor of The Charlotte Gazette and The Kenbridge-Victoria Dispatch. Her email address is hannah.davis@farmvilleherald.com.