TENNERTON — Five local Buckhannon-Upshur High School student-athletes made the decision to sign with local school to further their athletic and academic pursuits last week on Thursday, February 24. Four of the five chose to commit to West Virginia Wesleyan College, opting to stay in the community that raised them as they start the next chapter of their lives, while the other chose to take her talents to Philippi and become a Battler.
In a first for Buckhannon-Upshur High School, Nathaniel Russell, a senior eSports star, became the first B-UHS eSports athlete to officially sign with a college program as he inked a letter of intent to game for the WVWC eSports program. Russell will represent the Bobcats in a variety of video games against national competition. As eSports continues to grow in terms of popularity, talented gamers such as Russell will have more access to opportunities to game on the next level.
“I think my success will further grow the local eSports program by showing other kids they can join eSports and play games to get a higher education. The more people invest in the eSports community, the more it will grow and evolve,” said Russell. “My favorite games include the Uncharted series, Batman: Arkham series, the PlayStation Spider-Man exclusives, and Call of Duty. I’d say my favorite game now is Batman: Arkham City. I’d say my specialty is having experience playing a vast majority of games. My strength is being able to adapt to the different games I play at a time.”
When Russel was asked, “what does it mean to you to be able to compete collegiately in esports?,” he responded “it means everything to be able to compete in college. I love games, and the ability to compete with games I enjoy to get a great education is amazing.”
“My college goals consist of winning the COD championship, getting good grades, and getting a good job after college,” said Russell.
Despite struggling with multiple serious injuries during her time at B-UHS, Kiara Woods has flashed more than enough potential to earn a lacrosse scholarship to Alderson Broaddus. Woods continues to rehab from her second ACL tear and prep for her final season playing lacrosse as a Buccaneer.
Some of Woods’ highlights and favorite memories of her time at B-UHS are centered around the long bus rides with her team. “Since not too many schools in the state have teams, we often have to travel a lot. It was a great team bonding experience,” said Woods.
Woods has been playing lacrosse since her freshman year of high school. “I wanted to try something new and a few of my friends also played the sport. I only played one full season due to COVID and injuries,” said Woods. “Because I hadn’t played lacrosse in so long, there were times I questioned if I wanted to peruse a collegiate career. However, I was able to play a few games of travel lacrosse between injuries. As soon as I stepped on the field I fell in love with the game all over again and knew it’s what I wanted to do.”
“I’m honored to be able to continue my lacrosse career. I have always wanted to grow the sport in this state and this is a wonderful opportunity to do so,” said Woods. “My goals while being at AB are to again grow the program and sport within the state and get more people involved.”
Aden Pitts, a senior tennis prospect, originally from Texas, officially committed to the WVWC tennis program. The newest Bobcats tennis star hopes to take full advantage of his opportunity to play sports collegiately and put test his tennis skills out on the next level.
After moving to Buckhannon during his junior year of high school, Pitts quickly became a force to be reckoned with on the courts. Many of Pitts favorite memories were formed during his time in Texas.
“I have two moments during my career that stand out as my favorite. My absolute favorite came back during my sophomore year, my doubles partner and I, were playing against our biggest rivals. The match went on for four hours, everyone that was watching our match, cheered because of how intense of a “back and forth” it was. My second favorite moment happened last year, I was playing against University’s #1 player, after already losing to him pretty badly earlier in the season. Although I still lost the match, it was extremely close and was one of the most fun matches to play in. Afterwards, he acknowledged me and praised me for how much better I had gotten and how I was going to go far,” said Pitts.
The tennis star started playing the sport in seventh grade and it has quickly earned a spot in his heart. “This sport means everything to me, it has made me meet so many amazing individuals and allow me to grow as a person and as a player,” said Pitts.
Pitts was drawn to WVWC because of the opportunity it can offer him. “Wesleyan has a prelaw minor that drew my attention because I plan on attending law school, not only that but the coaching staff is absolutely amazing. I currently am taking lessons from the assistant coach and he has trained me to evolve my game and my mindset and I wanted to keep that relationship running,” said Pitts. “Being able to play collegiately means a lot to me, it gives me the opportunity to continue the sport I love and have experiences I wouldn’t have otherwise.”
After an outstanding senior season, in which he was named Big 10 Conference Golfer of the Year and led the Buccaneers golf team to a conference championship, Evan Coffman chose to keep his talents local and attend WVWC. Coffman was unavailable for further interview; however The Record Delta looks forward to covering his success while at WVWC.
Catherine Oliveto chose to sign with the Bobcats’ soccer program. As a senior this past season, Oliveto was a standout soccer prospect who’s potential and passion for the game quickly caught the attention of WVWC womens Head Coach Rich Owens and his staff. Oliveto will stay in Buckhannon, where she hopes to make an impact on the soccer pitch for Coach Owens and the Bobcats, while working on her nursing degree.