CCS dual-sport athlete earns academic scholarship

Published 2:38 pm Friday, July 5, 2013

By DREW GRANTHUM / Sports Writer

SHELBY — Sometimes, the impact of a sport reaches beyond the field of play. While sports are often used as a means to acquire riches, fame and glory, there are still players out there who use a sport to improve themselves.

Such is the case with Nate Sawyer. the Shelby native was a two-sport athlete at Cornerstone Christian School who parlayed success in sports into an opportunity to be the first in his family to attend college.

Sawyer said he was talked into running track and playing football at Columbiana Middle School.

“My seventh grade year, I just jumped in,” he said.

While playing linebacker in football and running AAU for the Bobby Humphrey Speed City Club, he was able to work his way into a starting spot at Shelby County High as a freshman and sophomore. He also ran track at SCHS for Jim Barnes and Jim Adams.

Still, Sawyer felt he was missing something. He knew he wasn’t giving his all in the classroom, and felt a change of scenery might make him a more well-rounded student.

“My grades weren’t that good,” he said. “Everybody said Cornerstone was a good school.”

So, going into his junior year, Sawyer transferred to Cornerstone and started at outside linebacker for the Chargers. He said the attention he began to receive from instructors because of the small class sizes helped change his view on his future.

“It got me thinking about college,” he said. “As a freshman and sophomore (I had) dreams of being in the Olympics. When I got (to CCS), they got us to look at colleges we liked. Looking at Southwestern Baptist in (Bolivar) Missouri, I really wanted to go there.”

With a college in mind, Sawyer began to apply himself as much in the classroom as he did on the field. He was rewarded when Southwest Baptist gave him a scholarship to attend not based on athletic merit, but his academic achievements, to study criminal justice.

While Sawyer said he was proud of his accomplishments, he wanted to make sure he thanked everyone who helped him along the way, as well as serve as an example to other athletes around the county.

“I want to make sure people know they have the same chance,” he said.