Lakeland student-athletes sign papersPublished 10:27pm Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Lakeland High School held the signing ceremonies recently for two key players from this year’s regional playoff football team and one key member of the field hockey team that made it to the regional quarterfinals.
Wide receiver/defensive back Antonio Jefferson signed with Morgan State University in Baltimore, and linebacker Chris Rodgers is headed to Chowan University in Murfreesboro, N.C. Ashley Heuberger committed to attend and play for Lynchburg College.
“Being the first person out of my family to go to college, it just means a lot, just setting the right path for my little brother and sisters,” said Jefferson, who was a two-year all-district and all-regional selection for the Cavaliers. “That’s why I strive so hard, just setting the (example) for them.”
Until 10th grade, Jefferson was a basketball player who had not played football at all for Lakeland. Then, Lakeland football player Tyquan Lewis was shot and killed in 2010, the day before the first practice of the season. Former Lakeland football coach Glenwood Ferebee recalls what followed.
“When Tyquan Lewis passed away, a lot of kids decided to come out to honor Tyquan, and (Jefferson) was one of those kids that wanted to honor Tyquan and come out and play football,” he said.
Jefferson immediately showed promise.
“In 10th grade, when I thought I was really good at football, and I could go to college for it, so I started taking it seriously, and I’m here,” Jefferson said at the signing ceremony.
“I think it’s a pretty good fit,” Ferebee said. “As far as me as a coach, it makes me feel good that you could coach a kid with the athletic ability of an Antonio Jefferson and watch him develop from the first time he picked up the football until now.”
Rodgers said signing with Chowan, a Division II school, was “an answer to prayer. I’ve been praying about it for a long time. It seemed like it would never come, but finally came.”
“I really didn’t think my recruitment was going to go too good, because I broke my fibula and I had been suspended for two games this year, so I really didn’t think I was going to make Division II ball or Division I,” he explained.
He had talked about wanting this for a long time, particularly to help his family, including his mother, who has recently had breast cancer, and his father, who has been completely paralyzed. He credits his family with helping him “keep my head on right.”
“They’ve been taking care of me, so it’s my turn to take care of them,” he said.
Ferebee gave high praise to Rodgers who played varsity ball all four years of high school.
When you talk about the model of a kid that you want in your program, Chris Rodgers is that kid,” he said. “Never complains, you never have to step on him when it comes to classwork, hard-working kid in the weight room, hard-working kid on the field.”
Rodgers expects to major in exercise science, desiring to be a physical therapist.
The impact had not quite reached Ashley Heuberger when she was signing with Lynchburg College, a Division III school.
“It doesn’t seem real yet,” she said. “It still hasn’t hardly hit, but it’s going to be a good experience.”
Lady Cavaliers head coach Tara Worley knew Heuberger had been wrestling with her college choice.
“It was kind of up to her,” she said. “She was battling between what she wanted to do with her career and finding a school that matched up to that with hockey, and Lynchburg had both of what she needed, so that worked out great.”
“She’s going to bring a lot of poise,” Worley said. “Ashley is a calm, cool and collected type of player. She’s not flashy. She takes her role and takes it seriously and gets the job done and doesn’t ask for a lot of spotlight.”
Heuberger played varsity all four years of high school, including being part of the state championship team in 2010.
She plans to major in biology.