Five Southampton High School student-athletes level up to college gridiron

Published 5:28 pm Sunday, February 13, 2022

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National Signing Day 2022 was a big day for Southampton High School’s football program, as five standout members of the varsity team formally announced where they would be playing at the next level.

The Feb. 2 ceremony featured Lamarre Joyner and Dexter Ivey announcing their commitments to attend and play football for Elizabeth City State University; Jimmie Reed and Dequan Boone announcing their commitments to attend and play for Virginia Union University; and Javen Johnson affirming his commitment to attend and play for Hampton University.

The student-athletes were joined by parents, coaches, teammates and classmates at the event.

Southampton Varsity Football Head Coach Travis Parker opened the ceremony at SHS by noting that it was a special day for Southampton athletics and especially the school’s football program because it was sending five of its best to the college level, with hopefully more to follow.

“Many Southampton scholar-athletes have gone on before you all and have done great things,” he said to those signing. “We know that you will do the same for yourself, your family, your school, your community and, last but not least, for God, who made us all.”

He closed his comments by telling Boone, Ivey, Johnson, Joyner and Reed, “On behalf of the Southampton football program and coaching staff, I congratulate all five of you for a job well done, and we expect for you to go forth, be great and leave the doors open for more Southampton scholars to benefit because of your efforts. God bless, Godspeed, and I love each and every one of you.”

Six members of Parker’s coaching staff later spoke — Eric Benton, Kenneth Barnes, Greg Scott, Xavier Scott, Timothy Dawson and Ishmael Ferrell, and Parker read a message from Josh Turner, who could not be there in person. The coaches expressed praise and encouragement to the five signers.

Southampton County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Gwendolyn P. Shannon spoke briefly, expressing her pride in the five student-athletes signing.

“I am extremely proud of each of you all for all that you all have done,” she said. “I’m also proud that you all had the wherewithal to get up every morning and handle your business and do what it took for you all to be sitting here today.”

She closed her comments by highlighting insights from author John C. Maxwell, who wrote the book “Talent Is Never Enough.”

“There are a lot of gifted and talented people who are still at home or in other places because they did not maximize their potential,” Shannon said.

Using some of the words of Maxwell, she left the five student-athletes with 13 key choices they can make to maximize their potential when it comes to talent:

  1. Belief lifts your talent
  2. Passion energizes your talent
  3. Initiative activates your talent.
  4. Focus directs your talent.
  5. Preparation positions your talent.
  6. Practice sharpens your talent.
  7. Perseverance sustains your talent.
  8. Courage tests your talent.
  9. Teachability expands your talent.
  10. Character protects your talent.
  11. Relationships influence your talent.
  12. Responsibility strengthens your talent.
  13. Teamwork multiplies your talent.

“So I am excited that you all do not only have talent but you all are talent-plus people,” she said. “You went the extra mile, you did all of the extra things that it took for you all to be here today, and I’m extremely proud of you.”

SHS Interim Principal Dr. MeChelle S. Blunt highlighted how the step the five signers were taking was their opportunity.

“You’ve made a legacy here,” she said. “We want you to make a legacy where you’re going. Continue to make your parents proud, continue to make us proud. Keep being fine young men, respectful and responsible young men. Embrace the opportunity of new freedom. You’ve been raised, you know right from wrong, so just because you have that little added freedom, handle it the way you know that you should.”

She encouraged the student-athletes to be adventurous and to be role models to the students they leave behind them.

“People are counting on you to do big things, but you count on yourself to meet and exceed your best,” she said.

SHS Athletic Director Tim Mason said, “As I look across the stage, I remember the word ‘student-athlete,’ and all of you have exemplified that, and we’re super-proud of you. And like Dr. Blunt said, carry your abilities, your talents to that next level and develop and grow as men, and you will come out to be successful. All five of you are very wonderful, great young men, and we’re looking forward to seeing what you can do in the future.”

Joyner was the first of the signers to speak.

Before donning the cap for the ECSU Vikings, he said, “I would like to thank God, my teammates, my coaches, my family, all y’all. Thank y’all for helping me to get to this point.”

Ivey, who also put on a Vikings cap, said, “I want to thank God, my coaches and my teammates for getting me to this point.”

Johnson, who had a signing ceremony in December, put on a Hampton Pirates hat, but just before, he said, “I want to say, ‘Thanks everybody for coming.’ God is good all the time.”

Reed said, “I just want to thank my mother, God (and) the best coaching staff in the nation, man. I want to thank my teammates, everybody that’s in my corner.”

He listed a few of those people by name before saying that he loved everyone he listed. He then donned a VUU Panthers hat.

Boone also put on a VUU cap after saying, “I just want to thank y’all — coaches, parents, teammates — for pushing me every day to get to the position, from ninth grade to now. If it wasn’t for y’all, I most likely wouldn’t be here right now, so I appreciate everything y’all done for me.”