Two Pickens High School athletes signed college scholarships today, inside the PHS Old Performing Arts Center.
D.J. Walden signed to play football for the Shorter University Hawks in Rome, Ga., while Savannah Laney made Pickens history by becoming the first-ever athlete to sign a volleyball scholarship by putting her names on the dotted line to play for the Agnes Scott Scotties in Atlanta.
A recent addition to the Dragons family, D.J. Walden just joined Pickens for his senior year of football.
“It feels great,” Walden said. “It feels like all the hard work has paid off. Now it’s time to work harder, because I’m going on to the next level and I’m going to give it all I have.”
Walden has been on the gridiron since he was seven years old. He has also played basketball, but admits that football has always been number one.
“I just always had a love for football,” Walden said. “It’s my favorite sport and I love it.”
Walden looks to play either center or defensive tackle for the Division II Hawks. He also made sure to thank those that have helped him along the way.
“First, I want to thank God,” Walden boasted. “I want to thank my parents, my grandparents and my coaches. Everyone that helped to get me where I am today, because without some people, I wouldn’t have anything.”
“I’m very excited,” Laney said. “It was kind of a shock to think that something like this was possible. When I first started, I had no idea this was even going to be an opportunity. So, it’s very exciting that I’ve got this far.”
For Laney, her historic volleyball scholarship came after a more recent decision to play the sport garnered her a ride to the women’s only-Division III Agnes Scott.
Laney took up volleyball during her freshman year at PHS, after playing basketball from a young age. However, after her first year as a volleyball player, Laney was hooked and left the Dragonettes basketball team her sophomore year to focus on her new-found love.
“I like that it’s a team sport,” Laney explained. “You really have to work on yourself, as a unit. You don’t really worry about the other team. You just have to defend what they have.”
Agnes Scott was the first college Laney visited and ended up being the one that she settled on, in spite of visits to other schools. She also had a list of people to thank for helping get her where she is today.
“My mom and dad, plus Charlie Green, my recruiting agent and also, Coach Bernard for being one of my coaches,” Laney said. “But I’d also like to thank my teachers. Because for me, school has always been first and my teachers really have inspired me.”
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