High Schools

Beaufort Academy's Weslake makes Clemson choice official

Bluffton, Hilton Head High have several non-football standouts sign

sfastenau@beaufortgazette.com, mmccombs@islandpacket.comFebruary 6, 2014 

David Byrne had not been coaching Miranda Weslake long on his Beaufort club soccer team before the sharks circled.

He knew it would happen. Weslake, even at 10 years old, was good enough to catch the eye of coaches from the Mount Pleasant clubs.

The path began when she climbed out of the crib at 8 months old and went straight from sitting to walking, no crawling necessary. She was a natural, her mother said, the same way she leads the area in scoring in basketball and got invited to play club volleyball despite just having picked up the sport.

"What's that player's name? How old is she? Would she come play here?" Byrne remembers coaches asking at a Charleston-area tournament.

Byrne eventually lost Weslake to the more-populated club, a move he embraced for her development. But he got her back as girls soccer coach at Beaufort Academy, which won a SCISAA state title last season.

Weslake, now a senior, signed on Wednesday to play soccer at Clemson. She had been committed since September 2012 and didn't look back. Her family is saturated with Clemson graduates, and the in-state tuition and opportunity to play were a draw.

The commitment ensured those years doing homework in the car back and forth with her South Carolina United FC teammates weren't for nothing.

"I've looked forward to it ever since then," said Weslake, who also considered Wake Forest. "I haven't thought about anywhere else."

Bluffton and Hilton Head Island high schools each had groups of nonfootball signees Wednesday.

At Bluffton, Kitava Stout signed to play soccer at Division II LImestone, while volleyball standout Jordan Franklin signed with Division II King University in Bristol, Tenn.

After looking at Catawba and Lees-McRae, Stout went with the Saints because she felt welcome on campus and the school has a good athletic training program.

Franklin, an Island Packet All-Area player on coach Al Stern's team, chose King for the combination of a good volleyball program and nursing program.

"It's like six hours away and it's totally different. It's up in the mountains," Franklin said. "But I'm really excited, I liked my visit."

At Hilton Head, Dillon Heffner (USC Sumter) and Michael Perez (USC Salkehatchie) signed to play baseball, while Amanda and Ashley Green (Armstrong Atlantic State) signed to play girls soccer.

Heffner and Perez both looked at their signings as an opportunity to play as much as possible and earn a transfer to a bigger school.

Amanda and Ashley Green, who plan to study rehabilitation science, made an effort to stay someplace close to home and their mom. But ultimately, they had to travel.

Ciara McMahon signed to run at Wofford, where she really liked the school's academics and its size -- "very small, very close knit" -- and Mackenzie Hrobar will cheer for Limestone's first competitive cheer team.

Weslake hopes to play right away. She played forward on her club team and midfielder for Beaufort Academy and expects to play up top for the Tigers.

She learned from talking to college coaches that a big issue with incoming freshman is not being in playing shape, and so Weslake has worked with a personal trainer to help shrink the curve.

"I'm hoping when I get up there, I'll be good to go and can just jump right in and hopefully get some playing time," Weslake said.

2014 AREA COMMITMENTS/SIGNEES

(

  • Indicates schools have not yet included athletes on their official list of signees.)

  • Football

    TE Stephen Baggett, Beaufort High, East Carolina

    *WR Vinny Boni, Bluffton, Limestone

    DL Mike Davis, Bluffton, Newberry

    DL K.J. Ford, Bluffton, James Madison

    OL Taylor Gordon, Bluffton, Savannah State

    *LB Jason Green, Battery Creek, Limestone

    RB Khalil Lewis, Hilton Head Island, Gardner-Webb

    *ATH Jae Middleton, Bluffton, Savannah State

    *WR Gerald Roberson, Bluffton, Newberry

    Baseball

    Dillon Heffner, Hilton Head Island, USC Sumter

    Michael Perez, Hilton Head Island, USC Salkehatchie

    Cross Country

    *Ciara McMahon, Hilton Head Island, Wofford

    Girls soccer

    Amanda Green, Hilton Head Island, Armstrong Atlantic

    Ashley Green, Hilton Head Island, Armstrong Atlantic

    Kitava Stout, Bluffton, LImestone

    Miranda Weslake, Beaufort Academy, Clemson

    Volleyball

    Jordan Franklin, Bluffton, KIngs

    Competitive Cheer

    Mackenzie Hrobar, Hilton Head Island, Limestone

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