Prep sports notebook: Warhawks’ Bruce gets ‘Birds’ eye view of NFL organization

June 19, 2013 

Veterans High head coach David Bruce was among a group of more than 300 Georgia high school football coaches who attended a seminar hosted by the Atlanta Falcons on the final day of the organization’s team activities Friday at Flowery Branch.

“It really wasn’t what you’d call an instructional camp,” Bruce said. “It was, you know, just showing us how they do things.

“We had one little meeting,” he added. “They talked about concussions. That’s gonna be a point of emphasis.”

Bruce said a new concussion protocol for high schools will include more parental information and examination of concussion cases by a certified athletic trainer or physician. Players won’t be allowed to participate until medically cleared.

“I want the kids to be safe,” Bruce said when asked his opinion of the new protocol. He added that he had 13 documented concussions as a player.

“I was the poster child for concussions,” he said.

Beyond information, Bruce returned to Kathleen with a $500 equipment grant after winning a drawing in Flowery Branch.

NHS scholarships

Three Northside soccer players and one volleyball player signed letters of intent to participate in sports and continue their educations during separate May ceremonies at the high school.

Recent graduates Taylor Poole and Megan Radcliffe will continue as soccer teammates at Wesleyan University while Sierr Sawyer will play the sport at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. Libero Bobie Wilson will play volleyball at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Ala.

Northside girls soccer coach Ryan Burkhart said his former players are part of a developing tradition.

“They have been inspired by girls who signed scholarships in the past, and we hope they can be an inspiration to the current players,” he said.

An active participant in FFA, Sawyer plans to study animal science at ABAC. She said she’s always had a love for animals, including “dogs, cats and cows.”

Poole and Radcliffe were discovered by Wesleyan coach Ciaran Traquair quite by accident. He had planned to scout a Warner Robins player during a match between the two rivals. However, that girl didn’t play in the game which the Lady Eagles wen on to win.

A striker, Poole was named co-Region 2-AAAAA player of the year after scoring 19 goals for Northside. She plans to study forensic nursing.

Radcliffe is a versatile player who has played in every third of the field over her soccer career. She will study biology.

Wilson visited Huntingdon while in Montgomery for a beach volleyball tournament. She made the most of the opportunity to display the skills that led to her selection as The Telegraph’s Player of the Year for the 2012 season. As libero, Wilson was a key performer on Northside’s first-ever state tournament qualifier.

“We can’t replace Bobie,” Northside coach Jessica White said. “There’s no replacing Bobie.”

Veterans scholarships

A quartet of recent Veterans High graduates signed letters of intent to play baseball in college during a May signing ceremony at the high school. Zane Conlon (Gordon State College), David Shiplett (East Nazarine College), R.J. Skeen (Andrew College) and Zach Wilkes (Brewton-Parker College) made official their commitments before family and friends.

Conlon chose Gordon State because “it’s not too big, not too small.”

A member of the 2007 Little League World Series team, Conlon played outfield for the Warhawks and hit .411 this past season for the Region 2-AAAA champions.

Conlon said he’ll concentrate on core classes in anticipation of moving on to a larger school after two years.

Shiplett found his way to East Nazarine in Quincy, Mass., by way of a tryout camp at Piedmont College in Demorest. Located just outside Boston, the East Nazarene campus is small and free of distractions, according to Shiplett. He said he has no family in the area.

“It’s a chance to start something new,” he said. “You never know what it can bring up.”

A valuable utility infielder, Shiplett drove in 18 runs for Veterans in 2013. He plans to study sports management.

One of the Warhawks’ top pitchers, Skeen took pride in the fact that he “put up numbers quietly.” He led the team in wins and strikeouts during the 2013 season.

“(Recognition) doesn’t matter to me as long as we get the ‘W’ and the whole team gets the recognition,” he said.

He added that he likes the quiet academic structure at Andrew College. He’s interested in studying agricultural science.

Wilkes is also a numbers guy, but he isn’t quiet about it. He wants to be a math teacher.

“Not a lot of kids love math in high school,” he said. “You have to teach them to love it.”

By contrast, Wilkes said he always loved the subject. He’s attending Brewton-Parker with the intention of teaching math and coaching down the road.

Wilkes hit .296 and scored 24 runs for the Warhawks this past season.

Contact Chris Deighan at

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