Q&A with Suwanee’s High School Senior Star Athletes

Q&A WITH SUWANEE’S HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR IMPACT PLAYERS

We asked the Athletic Directors at North Gwinnett, Collins Hill and Peachtree Ridge high schools to give us the names of the top male and female athletes to look out for this year. 

By: RACHEL PILLOW | Photos by PAUL PERDUE

These award-winning students have made it to the top, being named All-State and All- County several times over the course of their high school careers. But, not only do they display incredible athleticism on the field, court and track –they exemplify leadership and hard work in other areas of their lives as well. As they enter their senior year, they hope to make it their best yet and leave a legacy for the younger athletes rising up behind them.

Jada Rice, Collins Hill High School

My advice for younger athletes who want to excel is to work hard, always do the extra work that sets you aside from other players.

Power Forward | Jada Rice, Collins Hill High School | 2017 All-State

Q: When did you start playing and when did you realize your potential?

A: I started playing in the 5th grade and when I started getting letters of interest and scholarship offers I realized that this could be more than just a game for me.

Q: What is your favorite basketball memory?

A: Hearing my mom in the stands, whether it was getting after me for not performing my best or whether she thought my coach wasn’t doing something right, you were always going to be able to hear what she had to say.

Q: What are you most looking forward to your senior year?

A: Other than graduating, I look forward to winning State this year!

Q: Best words of advice from your coach?

A: Coach gives us advice every day, but I think the best is: “Play every game like it’s your last.”

Q: Funniest team memory?

A: We have so many, but one of my favorites is the hype after we win a game. You should see us on video – we look like we’re absolutely crazy!

Q: How do you make sure you are balancing academics and sports?

A: After playing for so long you learn to develop great time management skills. I make sure that before anything I finish schoolwork first.

Q: Any game day rituals?

A: I don’t really have rituals, but usually a Chick-fil-A breakfast is on my to-do list.

Jada has received scholarship offers but has not committed to a school yet.

Shooting Guard, Team MVP | Devin Vassell, Peachtree Ridge High School |First Team Region 6AAAAAA, Played in the Gaca Junior North South All Star Game

Devin Vassell, Peachtree Ridge High School

My advice for younger athletes who want to excel is to work hard and don’t ever be comfortable where you are – always work to do better.

Q: When did you start playing basketball and when did you realize that it could be more than just a hobby for you?

A: I started playing on a team when I was 6 years old. There were no 6-year-old teams, but I made a 7-8 year-old team. From that point, until I got into high school, I always played one or two years older. It was around the age of 10 that I really developed a love for the game.

Q: How do you balance academics and sports?

A: I make sure that I pay attention in class and complete my homework as soon as I get home from school.

Cross Country, Track | Mary Kathryn Knott, Peachtree Ridge High School | 2x Gwinnett Daily Post Super 6, 2016 Gwinnett County Runner of the Year

Q: When did you start running and when did you realize you were really good at it?

Mary Kathryn Knott, Peachtree Ridge High School

My advice is to stay consistent with your training and work hard. There are a lot of naturally good runners but if they don’t put in the work then they won’t be the best they can be. Some of the best advice I’ve received from my coach is to go out with the top runners in the race and then out-kick them in the end.

A: I started running in middle school. Before my first cross country race my freshman year, everyone on the team thought I wasn’t very fast but then I surprised everybody by finishing with a 13:39 finish in a 2-mile race. That race placed me 8th on the team, which made me realize I was pretty good at this sport and have a chance to run in college.

Q: Your biggest accomplishments?

A: Receiving 14 letters of interest from colleges. And, in 2016 my best accomplishments individually were winning first place in the 4A Area Championships, getting third place at the State Championships, and being named Gwinnett Daily Post Runner of the Year. For the girl’s team, it was getting ninth in the 7A State Championships.

Q: How many miles a week do you run? A: As a team, we practice about 15 hours a week and before I fractured my hip I ran about 35-40 miles a week. However, I am healed now and getting back to running full mileage.

Mary Kathryn has received scholarship offers but has not committed to a school yet.

Erin Wilbur, North Gwinnett High School

My advice for younger athletes is to never listen to people who say you can’t, instead prove to them that you can. Whatever you set your mind to, you CAN do.

Short Stop, 3rd Base | Erin Wilbur, North Gwinnett High School | 2017 State Champion, All-State and All-County

Q: When did you start playing?

A: I started playing t-ball when I was 4, but I’ve been around ball fields since before I could walk, when my brother played baseball.

Q: At what point did you realize that this could be more than a hobby?

A: My dream since I stepped foot on the field was to play college softball, so it has always been a goal of mine. But I realized that softball was something I could actually excel in around my 8th grade year, when travel ball started to get really serious.

Q: How do you balance academics and sports?

A: The biggest thing I do right when I get home from practice is to get my homework done. When we have games I try and do it either in the locker room before, or if I don’t have time before, it is the first thing I do when I get home as well. I also look for opportunities for tutoring and study groups with my peers.

Q: What are you most looking forward to as you start your senior year?

A: I’m looking forward to getting out on the field with my teammates and making this last year of mine the best year it can be.

Erin has committed to the University of Louisville.

Warren Ericson, North Gwinnett High School

Never quit! No matter what, never stop working towards your goals.

Offensive Guard | Warren Ericson, North Gwinnett High School | 4 Star Prospect, All-American Candidate: Top 300 Prospects in the Nation, 1st Team All-County

Q: When did you start playing?

A: In the 4th grade. I realized football could be more than a hobby though in 7th grade when my coach, who was a former NFL Offensive Lineman said I had serious potential.

Q: What do you want to study in college?

A: I enjoy science and am going into the Sports Medicine field.

Q: What does game day look like?

A: I don’t really have any rituals, I just go out and play my hardest.

Warren has committed to the University of Georgia.

 

 

Safety | Peyton Woulard, Collins Hill High School |Started Every Game Since Sophomore Season

Q: When did you start playing and when did you realize you had potential to go far in football?

A: I started playing when I was 6 years old. But, when I had the opportunity to start as a sophomore and was the only sophomore out there, I realized this could be more than a game, that I could play in college and maybe even professionally one day – and I took it more seriously. 

Peyton Woulard, Collins Hill High School

My advice for younger athletes is to push the starters to play well. And if you have the opportunity to get on the field, take it, go at it 100% every time. Make sure to have a positive attitude. I know getting named JV can be discouraging but stick it out and you can make Varsity!

Q: What’s your favorite football memory?

A: Scoring my first touchdown when I was 7 years old. It was the first game of the season. That first time I got the ball I took it 80 yards and just fell in love with the sport right then and there.

Q: What are you most looking forward to your senior year?

A: Going out with a bang, having fun with my brothers, making the school happy and hopefully winning the State Championship!

Q: Any game-day rituals?

A: I wear my lucky necklace, a green cross, every Friday. I always wear the same underwear, too (but I wash it every week!)

Peyton Has Committed to Wake Forest

 


JOIN THE CONVERSATION
Authors

Top <