Spain Park has 14 sign to continue athletic careers

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

HOOVER – A large group of talented student athletes gathered in Spain Park’s gymnasium on Wednesday, Feb. 5, to celebrate a special and rare opportunity in front of family, friends and teammates.

After putting in years of hard work, 14 different athletes in eight different sports signed to continue chasing their dreams and playing the sport they love at the collegiate level in a special signing ceremony on National Signing Day.

“I want to congratulate all of our student athletes on all of the success they’ve achieved now and all the success they’ll achieve in the future,” Spain Park Athletic Director Patrick Kellogg said. “I know they’ll go to their college or university and do great things in the classroom and their competitive field. All of those things will help each of them become a great person that will help us change the world for the better.”

Each of the student athletes has not only had an impact on their respective team, but have also been leaders in the classroom and risen to the occasion of doing whatever their coaches ask and whatever it takes to succeed.

“I want to thank their teammates who support them and help them achieve these goals and their coaches, who demand their excellence on and off the field,” Kellogg said. “They demand a lot of their time. It is a big time commitment to be a student athlete here at Spain Park.”

The impressive signing class included three volleyball players, three swimmers, two baseball players, two golfers, one basketball player, one football player, one soccer player and one tennis player.

One of the most prominent signings was Sarah Ashlee Barker, who has made it known for a while that she is going to the University of Georgia. One of the state’s best basketball players the last four years, she’s currently in the middle of leading her team in postseason action, while also putting up remarkable numbers that have her as one of the favorites to win the player of the year award at the end of the season.

The three volleyball players that were honored included Paris Morris, Olivia Stark and Alex Wright. All three have had major impacts on helping the Jags’ volleyball program take the next step over the last few years.

Morris and Stark get to continue being teammates at the next level as well with both heading to the University of Alabama at Huntsville, while Wright is headed to Lawson State Community College.

In swimming, Spain Park has one of the state’s best programs, and a big reason for that is the success of Ward Lockhart, Austin Stallworth and Abby Brown Strohmeier, all of whom are going on to swim collegiately.

Stallworth is staying close to home by attending Birmingham Southern College, while Strohmeier is headed to Liberty University and Lockhart to Rollins College.

Colton Ledbetter and Jaxson Lucas both signed to continue playing basketball at the collegiate level. Ledbetter was one of the state’s best players as a junior and will return to lead the Jags this spring before heading to Samford University, while Lucas is headed to Marion Military Institute.

Spain Park also honored two extremely talented golfers that will have chances to make noise at the next level, one from the girls team and one from the boys.

Marilyn Steed, who has been one of the best golfers in school history for a storied girls program, is headed to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, while Hayden Carner is headed to Central Alabama Community College after playing a major role in Spain Park’s dominant boys program.

The lone football signee was tight end Jacob Jenkins, who finished as the team’s second leading receiver this past season with 612 yards and three touchdowns on 42 receptions. Jenkins, who is also on the basketball team, is headed to Jacksonville State University.

Justin Fisher, soccer, and Ryan Stafford, tennis, were the other two athletes to sign to the next level.

Fisher will look to help lead the Spain Park soccer team this spring as a senior before heading to Union University, while Stafford will look to do the same for the tennis program before attending Sewanee The University of the South.