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Pioneering the Way: Three soccer standouts, one football player ink with Pioneers

Published: 1:15 PM, 02/06/2014 Last updated: 4:24 PM, 02/06/2014
 

Author: Seth Butler
Source: The Newport Plain Talk

National Signing Day was a big boon for a foursome of local high school athletes, all of whom chose Tusculum College as their next destination to continue their academic and athletic careers.

Cosby High School soccer players Chelsea Spears and Sunshine Mayfield, along with Eagles gridiron standout Tristian Ramsey all inked with the Greeneville school.

Cocke County High School soccer player Taylor Smith also signed to become a part of the Lady Pioneers soccer program.

Ramsey inks with Pioneers

For the second straight year, a member of the Cosby Eagles football squad is heading to play for the Pioneers of Tusculum. Ramsey affirmed his commitment to Tusculum when he signed his National Letter of Intent on Wednesday morning.

A familiarity with the area, along with Tusculum College’s block scheduling academic calendar were the main deciding factors for him.

“The block system is really nice,” Ramsey said. “Their indoor practice facility is really nice too.
“It’s close to him and I like the mountains - so that’s pretty much why I picked it - that and they gave me a pretty good offer too.”

In addition to the familiarity of the Tusculum area in Greeneville, the recruiting approach and relationships he built with the head coach Frankie Debusk and members of his coaching staff stood out to Ramsey.

“Frankie Debusk is a pretty cool guy, I got to talk to him for a pretty good while,” Ramsey said. “He actually sat down and ate lunch with me when I was over there.

“Out of all the camps I went to, I’ve never had a coach - let alone the head coach - sit down and eat with you,” Ramsey said.

Ramsey was courted by Tusculum assistant David Crawford, the former coach at Cocke County High School from 2006-07. The two hit it off from the start in the process.

“My recruiting coach, coach Crawford, he is just a funny guy,” Ramsey said. “He’s cool as can be, and really friendly too. All the other coaches, I haven’t had the chance to get to know them, but they seem really nice too.”

Ramsey, who was an All-Region 1-A second team pick as linebacker this past year, projects to play outside linebacker for the Pioneers.

“I’ll probably be an outside drop linebacker to start,” said Ramsey, who noted he would hit the weight room to add weight and go through endurance training to help him adjust to the transition from prep football to collegiate football.

During his career at Cosby, Ramsey was a part of just one season that went to the playoffs in 2011. The Eagles won five games that season, but have been only able to win that many in the past two years combined. Despite that, Ramsey said he’s enjoyed his time at Cosby.

“It’s been good - it’s not been a winning career as you would say - but I enjoyed it a whole lot and I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” Ramsey said. “All the people I got to play with and the coaches I got to be coached by - it’s been fun.

“I just want to thank all my coaches, every one of them from the ones I had freshman year to the ones this year, they’ve helped me so much,” Ramsey said.

Pair of Lady Eagles soccer standouts sign with TC

After accomplishing a number of firsts on the pitch for the young Cosby High School soccer program, both Sunshine Mayfield and Chelsea Spears are on their way to Tusculum College.

The duo helped lead the Lady Eagles to their first-ever region semifinal appearances in 2011 and 2012 and then to a district semifinal game this past season.

Having two players land at the next level for a Class A soccer program, which is still in its infancy, was a big day for the program.

“As a coach, I couldn’t be prouder to have two girls sign today,” Lady Eagles coach Ken Green said. “They certainly met all my expectations and deserve this opportunity to play for Tusculum.”

For both players, the atmosphere and relationships they developed at the Greeneville-based school made Wednesday’s signing day choice an easy selection.

The strong-legged midfielder Mayfield, who spent an entire summer of the campus her freshman year as part of the Upward Bound program, enjoyed the small campus feel. Mayfield has signed with
the Lady Pioneers as a midfielder.

“I liked the atmosphere,” Mayfield, a second-team All-District selection this past year, said. “It’s really comforting and inviting and all the people are really friendly…. I just feel at home there.”

Spears, who played defender this past year for Cosby but is signing as a midfielder for Tusculum, says she enjoys the small campus feel, along with the unique academic calendar the school uses.

“I like that its one class a day and when we went over for their recruitment weekend - the teachers, the coaches and students were really nice,” Spears said. “It’s a small campus and I like that.”

The Tusculum program also enjoyed a unique relationship with the Lady Eagles program. Last spring, Tusculum coach Mike Joy and a number of players hosted a one-day mini camp at the school and that’s when Mayfield said her relationship grew with the school.

“When they did come up here and coach (Joy) reached out to me, I knew this was my opportunity and I wasn’t going to let it pass,” Mayfield said.

Having been around the team has allowed Spears to develop a bond with many of her further teammates.

“It’s already like we’re part of the team,” Spears said. “They’re like family, they’re very close and into it.

“It’s a lot different from his school - it’s was very intimidating, but at the same time, it was cool, because they know each others next play,” Spears said.

Both players also credited Green with being there for them during their soccer careers.

“I’ve been with him since 2005 and everything I know is from him,” said Spears, a second-team All-District selection this past year. “He’s really inspired me and I have him to thank for everything.”

Mayfield was equally as appreciative of her coach’s efforts. Green, a long time assistant coach for the Cosby team, stepped in to fill the void left when Hillery Griffin stepped down from her head coaching role following the 2011 season.

“I want to thank my parents, they’ve been there a lot for me, and I want to thank my coach for taking time out of his job to come and coach kids that didn’t even want to play sometimes,” Mayfield said.

Smith also headed to Tusculum

Cocke County High School soccer player Taylor Smith also affirmed her choice in selecting Tusculum College during a Wednesday afternoon National Signing Day ceremony.

Smith, who scored 32 goals and tallied 47 assists during her four-year career at Cocke County High, has signed as a forward for the Lady Pioneers program.

“(Tusculum coach Mike Joy) said that I had the speed for a forward, but he also told me I also needed to get bigger,” Smith said. “So that’s the only thing that I’ve got to work on.”

Joy said that increasing his team’s offensive prowess was a main goal of this recruiting class. Smith was one of three forwards signed by the Lady Pioneers in this year’s recruiting class.

“Last year our attack was not as prolific as we needed it to be, thus our other emphasis with this recruit class was to bring in some difference makers in the attack,” Joy said in a press release. “I believe that we have signed today some attacking players that will make that difference for us next season.

“We have a strong group of returners, and with these new additions we will hopefully have a very successful 2014 season,” Joy said.

Joy, a veteran coach for the Lady Pioneers program, was a drawing point for Smith. Joy, who started the women’s soccer program at the University of Kentucky, has been with Tusculum since 1997.

“(Joy) was very nice and he just acted like I was on the team when I went on my recruiting visit,” Smith said. “The coaches were my favorite (of the program).”

The other strong suit that made her choice easy with the block scheduling academic calendar used by the school. Students at Tusculum attend one class at a time for one month, and take eight classes per year.

Smith, who played her high school soccer at CCHS for Dr. Mitzi Hall, said she appreciated her past coaches for their efforts in furthering her career.

“I want to thank all of my past coaches and my mentors, and also God, because without him I could not have done this,” Smith said.

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