A pair of Carroll County seniors fulfilled their athletic dreams April 19 by signing to play collegiate sports during a special ceremony at Carroll County High School.
Mattie Kennedy, who previously verbally committed to Presbyterian University late in 2016, made it officially by signing her national letter-of-intent to play Division I basketball with the Blue Hose. Meanwhile, senior Chase Robinson completed an amazing comeback from a broken leg in the summer of 2016 by signing to play college football at Greensboro College.
Robinson, Carroll’s starting quarterback in 2015, was set to give the Cavaliers an experienced starting signal caller this past season. Instead, Carroll had to switch to a wishbone offense when Robinson broke his leg in an offseason accident not far from the beginning of the season. At the time, the injury was feared to be season-ending, but Robinson worked hard enough in rehab to return in the seventh game of the season on Oct. 14 against Cave Spring.
“To come back from his injury as soon as he did showed he missed playing, wanted to play and he worked hard to make himself available to play. He loves the game,” Carroll County head football coach Eddie Sloss said. “He took his physical therapy serious and worked hard to get into a position to where he could play and contribute. He still wasn’t 100 percent, but you can’t measure someone’s heart. He definitely has heart and I’m happy he’s getting this opportunity to play.”
A three-sport athlete (football, basketball and soccer) at Carroll County, Robinson will receive an academic scholarship at Greensboro College, where he will focus solely on football. He said Ferrum, Methodist and Greensboro College were his top three choices of the schools recruiting him, but Greensboro stayed in touch with him the most and seemed like the best fit.
“They really hit a spark with me. I could tell they really wanted me. They said they were in need of a four-year starter so it was between there and another college. Greensboro acted like they wanted me more so I made my decision with them,” Robinson said. “They were more in need of quarterbacks so I feel like it was a better opportunity for me.”
The Carroll senior said Greensboro seems to be primarily interested in him as a quarterback. At one point after his offseason injury, he felt as if his chances to play college football were thrown out the window. But he pushed himself until he was able to make it back on the field. Robinson plans on pursuing a BS degree as a physician’s assistant and major in exercise science.
At Carroll County, Sloss encouraged Robinson to play multiple sports. But he feels the senior will be able to contribute to any program once he gets into college and is able to focus on one sport.
“He’s going to put everything he’s got into it. He’s very coachable. He’ll do anything you’ll ask him to do in and out of season. Everything I’ve asked him to do out of season he’s taken it to heart,” Sloss said. “I encouraged him to play multiple sports. What does he do? He plays basketball, he plays soccer. I’m sure a lot of that is because he wants to do that, but he took me seriously because I wanted my athletes to play multiple sports. Everything was always, ‘Yes sir, no sir,’ and if he had a question he’d come and talk with me. He just handled things the right way. I appreciate that. He’s got a great arm and he runs the ball really well. I think once he gets in a position where he will be doing football year-round, all those things I talked about alone and in a good offensive system where they will use him as a quarterback, I think he’ll be fine.”
Meanwhile, Kennedy’s signing with Presbyterian University capped an incredible four-year varsity career and a special senior season. In December, Kennedy became just the fifth girl in Carroll County history to reach the 1,000-point milestone for a career, a feat teammate and fellow senior Keely Lundy accomplished just four days later.
That same day, Kennedy committed to Presbyterian. She would go on to help lead Carroll County to a second straight Conference 24 championship and a 4A State Tournament berth for the second season in a row while earning All-State honors by the VHSL (Virginia High School League) and VHSCA (Virginia High School Coaches Association). Both Kennedy and Lundy also played in the VHSCA East-West All-Star Game in March.
“I’ve said for years, and the last three years anyway, she played like a warrior when she was on the floor. She’s ultra-competitive. I don’t think there was ever a doubt in my mind she would land somewhere because of her competitive nature and her will to win,” Carroll County head coach Marc Motley said. “I don’t think many kids who have come through here, for me anyway, have played more competitively and with more effort when they are on the floor. Skill-wise, talent-wise, she’s there and she’s probably over the edge when it comes to competitiveness, and I think that’s what a lot of coaches see in her.”
In addition to earning two all-state honors, the senior point guard also was named Conference 24 Player of the Year after leading the team in both assists (4.7 per game) and rebounds (7.4 per game). She also was the team’s second-leading scorer with 12.7 points per game.
“You can count them on two hands,” Motley said of Carroll County athletes who have gone on to play sports at a Division I college. “I don’t think there will be any question she will make it through her four years there and be successful. I have all the confidence in the world in her being successful when she goes there.”
Motley said Kennedy led Carroll in rebounding all four years she played varsity. She and Lundy both rank among the school’s all-time leaders in almost every category, noting their statistics could have been even better if they’d played on worse teams or teams by themselves.
“They are within our top five or six in every single category we’ve got here. Mattie did a lot for us. She scored it. She passed it. She rebounded it for us. I couldn’t ask any more than she did for us over the last four years,” Motley said. “Before they came in, we had a couple of down years. We had to go through that time when we had her sister (Rachel Dalton Reavis) and then they brought us back to where we had been before they got here. That’s a testament of how hard they worked.”
Kennedy said Presbyterian College noticed her through her AAU team, the Winston-Salem Stealers. She is well aware of how many kids playing AAU ball want to go to a D-1 school and don’t get the opportunity.
“I don’t know how to put it into words. I’m so blessed because so many people deserve scholarships and don’t get them,” Kennedy said. “Just the fact I get to continue my dream of playing basketball at a high level is amazing and I’m so thankful for the opportunity and everyone who has gotten me here.”
Presbyterian is a member of the Big South Conference and is located in Clinton, South Carolina. Kennedy said she likes the school because it is in a fairly rural area. It feels a lot like home, she said, with nice people.
“When we went down there we went to a restaurant and it felt like Mac’s Diner (the Hillsville Diner). It was just so cool,” she said. “At the game we met a lot of season ticket holders and a few elderly couples and they said anytime I wanted, to come over for a home-cooked meal. They just opened up their home.”
Kennedy said Presbyterian has led her to believe she will begin her career there as a backup point guard. She likes how the team plays, mostly reading and reacting. Kennedy is thinking of studying pre-med at Presbyterian.
“Presbyterian was like a dream come true, a miracle,” Kennedy said. “It was awesome.”
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN