Eight Southampton High School football stars sign with colleges
Published 5:30 pm Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Southampton High School’s varsity football program continued Feb. 1 to develop its growing legacy of helping produce college student-athletes.
Before a crowd of parents, coaches, teachers, administrators, teammates, classmates and friends in the SHS Auditorium, eight standout Indians signed to attend colleges of their choice in order to pursue their educations and to dedicate their athletic abilities to their chosen school’s football program.
“Welcome, everyone, for this afternoon for the celebration of some of our football players that have worked hard and have the ambition to want to go to the next level, and they’ve put in the work, and they’ve been blessed with some opportunities and some options,” Southampton Varsity Football Head Coach Travis Parker said at the signing ceremony.
He later issued a series of thank yous to people, starting with the parents of the student-athlete signers.
“As a representative of our coaching staff, if it wasn’t for you all to be able to allow us to be able to coach and mentor and sometimes discipline your sons, it would be hard,” he said. “But you all make it very, very easy … Thank you very much for allowing us to coach your kids. Parents, you all have done an excellent, excellent job. I know a lot of times there’s been some prayers and everything up until this point, but look what God has done, and look what we all have done in helping you to be able to do this.”
Parker also thanked school administration, teachers, staff, the Southampton County School Board, the community, the teammates of those signing and the past coaches who also helped develop the student-athletes being recognized.
“Look what we have done and can do and will continue to do,” he said.
SHS Principal Dr. MeChelle S. Blunt said it was an honor, a pleasure and a privilege to be able to stand in front of those at the signing ceremony and “to congratulate these young athletes and their parents for going that extra mile.”
She said, “Motivation is a choice, a good attitude is a choice. Choosing to do the right thing by the right people at the right time is what’s going to continue to afford you opportunities.”
Blunt highlighted the sacrifices the student-athletes had made but particularly emphasized all the sacrifices their parents made to provide for them.
Addressing the eight signers, she said, “At this point, we want you to take this opportunity not lightly but as a blessing to be a blessing to others. You should count yourself as a role model. You’re trailblazers. You’re letting others see the potentialities of young folk coming out of Southampton High School.
“So on this day, count it as gain that you are earning recognition, but I also want you to take on that huge responsibility of being a role model and a leader on the field and off,” she added.
As she concluded her remarks, she urged the eight student-athletes to keep academics first, noting that a wise person once told her, “You get your education. Nobody can take that from you.”
“So do the very best that you can,” she said. “I just want to say a huge congratulations. I am proud, your parents are proud, your fans are proud, and continue to make us proud of you.”
SHS Athletic Director Tim Mason congratulated the eight student-athlete signers and their parents.
“Let’s give Coach Parker and his coaching staff a big hand too,” he said, which prompted a round of applause. “Coach Parker has done a great job of getting out there and making sure that these kids are known at the college level.”
Among the members of Parker’s coaching staff who next offered comments to the student-athletes and those in attendance at the signing ceremony were Defensive Coordinator and School Board Member Greg Scott, Offensive Coordinator Xavier Scott, Receivers Coach Eric Benton, Defensive Line Coach Vernon Bryant and Defensive Backs Coach Charles Cooper.
Speaking first among the student-athlete signers was senior defensive tackle Raynard Holloway.
He made a point to thank God, his parents, his sister, his teammates, all of his teachers and his past coaches, including his first little league coach.
“I would like to commit to Florida Community Christian College,” he said.
Senior defensive end Izaiah Riffas-Williams next took center stage.
He thanked God, his coaches and gave special thanks to his teammates and his mother.
“I’m taking my talents to Florida Community Christian College and going back to where I’m from,” he said.
TRAVAIN WILKERSON JR.
Senior wide receiver/defensive end Travain Wilkerson Jr. thanked God for giving him the ability to play the sport he loves. He also thanked his parents, sister, grandmother, brother and his coaches.
“For the next four years, I’ll be going to (North Carolina) Wesleyan University,” he said.
ALVIN HICKS JR.
Senior running back/strong safety Alvin Hicks Jr. thanked “the Man above,” his parents, coaching staff and teammates.
“With that being said, for the next four years, I’ll be taking my athletics and academics to Elizabeth City State University,” he said.
Senior defensive lineman Leslie Dildy thanked God, his parents, siblings and coaches.
“With that being said, I’ll be taking my academic/football talents to…,” he said, completing the sentence by putting on the hat for Virginia State University.
Senior slotback/cornerback Jaeden Warren thanked God, family, particularly both of his parents, and his coaches.
“For the next four years, my collegiate football career, I will be taking my talents to … Elizabeth City State University,” he said. “Go Vikings!”
Senior quarterback/free safety/cornerback Jayden White thanked and expressed appreciation for God, family, particularly his mother, Greensville County High School, Southampton High School, extended family and friends.
“With that being said, I’ll be taking my talents to Richmond,” he said, ultimately opening his jacket to reveal a shirt proclaiming his chosen college in Richmond to be Virginia Union University.
Senior defensive end/tight end Juelz Cooper thanked God, his mom and dad, coaches, family, supporters, friends, his trainer, teachers and administrators.
“For the next three to four years, I’ll be taking my academic and football skills to… Virginia Union University,” he said. “Go Panthers!”