Creekside High School’s Varsity Competitive Cheer Team earned the school’s first-ever Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) Competitive Cheer State Championship title Feb. 5 in the 1A Medium Division.The cheerleaders have been contenders for the last three years, earning one FHSAA Regional Title and two FHSAA State Runner-Up Titles during that time. These hard-working athletes train as early as 6:30 a.m. during the school week while also cheering for football games,
Most people don’t have much to look forward to in the early part of February. The average person is likely still recovering from the Super Bowl or looking ahead to their big plans for Valentine’s Day. That is, unless you are a seventeen or eighteen year old senior, student-athlete with plans to play collegiate sports. The first Wednesday in February is more commonly known as National Signing Day, where students that have received college scholarship offers or plan to take their game to the next level can officially sign their letters of intent. Over the years, the day has somewhat taken on a life of its own. There is excitement and jubilation as well as anxiety and drama. Creekside High School celebrated the day in the usual fashion; with several athletes spread out across the stage and an auditorium filled with proud parents, family and friends. In fact, Creekside had 24 athletes signing letters of intent ranging from the University of North Florida to the University of Virginia and all the way out to the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado.
For most athletes, National Signing Day is the icing on the cake to an illustrious career. However, the feeling of putting pen to paper can also be a bit overwhelming. “I felt nervous but mainly excited. I’ve watched teammates and friends the last 4 years sign and I wanted to be up there one day. It’s always been my goal to be able to play soccer in college so to be up there felt like I accomplished something huge,” said senior Lauren Hollis, who signed with East Carolina University. Senior baseball player, Ty Angevine, who signed with the University of West Florida, added that “it was a surreal experience for my fellow athletes and I . It was a blessing to be recognized for all the hard work and dedication that it has taken to reach my goals and dreams.”
Each student had different reasons for choosing their particular college or university. Some of them will be taking their talents hundreds of miles from home. Senior track and field athlete Abby Thorpe says, “I chose Liberty because it was the best fit for me. After leaving the campus I knew that I didn’t want to go anywhere else. Liberty definitely has a standard of excellence throughout their whole campus, from the class rooms and faculty, to the facilities”. State Champion Abbey Ellis committed to swim for the University of South Carolina stated, “I can’t wait to swim for Coach Moody and be part of the program that he and the staff have built at USC. When I spent time with the team and coaches it became clear there’s something special happening in Columbia. The family atmosphere of success made me feel at home. I know this program will help me reach my fullest potential as a student and an athlete.” Other athletes plan to stay a bit more local, choosing from the wealth of schools that Florida has to offer. Tara Openshaw found a home just down I-10 West in Tallahassee at Florida State University. “I chose Florida State University because it combined my desire of competitive athletics and challenging academics. When I took my official visit, it felt like home. I had the option to compete in NCAA Division I while getting a highly ranked public university degree and that was an opportunity I just could not pass up.” Julia Duff, a Jacksonville University lacrosse commit, said “I decided to choose Jacksonville University because of the location, team and majors. I wanted to stay close to home because I love the warm weather and did not want to be far from family. I love the lacrosse coaches at JU. They are all about being a close knit family which is what I was looking for. They play a super fast style of play always trying to catch the other team off guard anytime during the game, playing the same style of play JU is a perfect fit.”
Near or far, lacrosse, track or baseball, there is one common thing that is shared among the Class of 2018… they will miss their friends, teachers, coaches and teammates here at Creekside High School. “I will miss many things about Creekside but what I will miss most is all the great teachers and coaches that have helped me achieve my goals and dreams,” said Ty Angevine. Lauren Hollis added, “I will probably miss my friends the most from Creekside, especially the girls soccer team. I’ve made most of my friends at school through soccer and I’ll just miss being out there on the field with them.” To Abby Thorpe, it’s all a bit bittersweet. “In 3 months I’ll be done with high school forever. Creekside has been full of highs and lows… but the atmosphere of fall night football games, school dances, and friendly familiar faces, will be missed… but I’m so excited for the future and I know that the best days are still ahead of me. I cannot wait to see what’s all to come!”
Good luck CLASS OF 2018 Creekside student-athletes!
For a full list of student-athletes who signed, see the chart below:
J’Michael “Jay” Plummer, a senior point guard for the Creekside Knights basketball team, is of the 2018 college signees. As a 4 year starter, he is the only player in Creekside history to eclipse the 1,000 point mark in his career. But he is ready to take on the next big challenge in his life… College Basketball.
Jay made the tough choice of committing to Embry Riddle University in January. Jay explained that Embry Riddle “really did feel right” for him and “they were different” from the other teams that were showing interest. Coach Steve Ridder told Jay that the team needed someone who could come in and be a floor general. When he got to visit and watch a game, Jay realized that is exactly what they were missing. This has prohibited the Eagles from taking the next step as a team. He felt that the honesty shown by the coaches on the recruiting campaign led him to Embry Riddle. It showed the character of the coach and who he is as a person.
Another aspect that Jay looked at very seriously was the distance from home. His mother said that it is such a big part of his life, so he really wanted to be somewhere where she was able to come and see him play. When asked about the biggest influence in his life to get to this point, Jay responded that many different influences carried him through his basketball journey. From all the coaches, fellow teammates, friends, family members, however, the largest would be his mother, Ornett Jackson. She has always been his biggest fan and had the foremost support for his career. She has contributed a large part in his work ethic to become the best ball player he can be. Having Jay in close proximity to her will no doubt mean she will be at his college games, supporting him just as she always has.
While the step from high school ball to college may be tough for many student athletes around the country, Jay feels that he is prepared for a smooth transition. His teams at Creekside High School have been dominant in recent years by making it deep into the State Playoffs. Experience in big time games that have increased tempo and having everything out on the line is great for him going forward. J’Michael said, “the good thing about Embry Riddle is that I will be able to go over and take some summer classes and be able to get into the flow.” Getting into the flow will be an enormous advantage over other incoming freshman athletes as he will be adapted to the college world and begin to focus on basketball as well as his academics.
J’Michael Plummer is well suited to take on this challenge as he looks to continue to grind and advance his game. He is a well rounded player with many of the tools in the bag to be able to make it big for himself. Watch out for J’Michael Plummer! With his grit and determination, nothing seems to be able to slow him from achieving great things at the next level.
Article written by student journalist, Brandon Carroll
Creekside’s cheer team won the school’s first FHSAA competitive cheer state championship Monday night in the 1A medium division. The team had been close the past three years with a regional title and two state runners-up trophies.
“These hard-working athletes train as early as 6:30 a.m. during the school week while also cheering for football games, volunteering in their community and studying hard to keep their grades up,” said coach Laura Clary.
The next step for the Knights will be this weekend at the National High School Cheerleading Championships at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex.
Creekside (11-4-2) had absorbed 79 minutes of pounding from the Bears, getting outshot 30-4 and not even managing an attempt on target until the 71st minute.
But goalkeeper Dean Jamsheedy stopped everything Bartram Trail (13-4-2) could throw at him, making 10 saves and surviving a penalty kick when Zech Dapaah sent his 49th-minute attempt wide of the net.
The goal frame also denied the Bears, when Nick Binghi’s effort from the right wing clanked off the post.
Finally, after a night of one-way traffic, Creekside struck the game-winner.