Ensworth celebrates 12 athletes headed to play sports in college

Wednesday, April 25, 2012 at 8:08pm

The tables stretched all the way from one end of the school stage to the other.

They were necessary to make room for the 12 Ensworth High athletes who signed or committed to play in nine sports at their college of choice at a celebration Wednesday morning at the school theater.

Three players off the Tigers’ state championship football team signed or committed, along with one — Will Downey — from its state champ basketball team and another — Yanikka Gittens — from its state champ volleyball team.

In the order they were introduced, the Tiger athletes included:

• Hannah Kimbrough, Eastern Illinois (tennis)

• Rico Watson, Butler University (football)

• Kyara Byner, Cincinnati (lacrosse)

• Wilson Patton, Stanford (gymnastics)

• Yanikka Gittens, South Alabama (volleyball)

• Cory Batey, Vanderbilt (football)

• Anna Grainger, Notre Dame (swimming)

• Will Downey, University of the South, Sewanee (basketball)

• Rodney Edmiston, Arkansas-Monticello (football)

• Erin Miller, Middlebury College (track)

• Jalen Swett, West Point (baseball)

• Carol Allen, Denison University (lacrosse)

Batey, a split end, steadfastly kept his commitment to Vanderbilt, something he made 10 months ago during a Commodore camp he attended last July. He, along with running back Brian Kimbro of Memphis East and defensive end Caleb Azubike of McGavock, all committed at the same time.

“My word is my bond,” Batey, who joined teammates, running back Rico Watson (offensive MVP of the state championship game and also basketball standout), along with defensive back Rodney Edmiston, as signees Wednesday. “I think it’s special for us, a school which just started playing [varsity] football six years ago in a small community, having a day like this.”

Like Batey in football, Downey played a key part in the Tigers’ basketball title.

“This really puts the icing on the cake after we won state for the second straight year,” Downey said. “A ceremony like this really is great for the school, and [getting to play in college] makes it so worthwhile and proved that all our hard work paid off.”

Added athletic director and football coach Ricky Bowers: “We may have as many as four or five more to commit or sign but are still in the decision making process or planning to make visits.

“We want to build a tradition of competition where success is not measured by comparison to others but by the standard of excellence we expect of ourselves. At Ensworth, individual statistics and subjective awards have minimal value. Our focus is in our willingness to prepare to win, not in winning itself.”

Briefly

• A men’s strength and conditioning camp, led by Ensworth fitness instructor and former NFL player Lemanski Hall, will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6-7 p.m., in May for all fitness levels.

Deadline to sign up is Friday. For information, email: halll@ensworth.com.