Big day for LaGrange student-athletes
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It was a special day for four LaGrange High student-athletes who have accomplished a great deal on and off the playing field.
LaGrange’s Abby Vanhoose, Madison Dennis, Camden Smith and Sydney Ormsby have earned the chance to play a sport on the college level, and they celebrated that accomplishment during a signing ceremony at the school on Wednesday with friends, teammates, family members and coaches there to share the moment with them.
While Vanhoose (LaGrange College), Dennis (Georgia Highlands College) and Smith (University of West Georgia) will play softball in college, Ormsby (Columbus State) will play soccer.
Vanhoose, Dennis and Smith were each four-year starters, and they capped their high-school careers with exceptional senior seasons.
Those three helped LaGrange win a region championship and advance to the final four of the state playoffs.
“For each of them, it’s not like it came easy,” said LaGrange coach Gabby Heath. “They all three have worked and grinded over the past five years. Just getting to reap the benefit of all that hard work, and getting to celebrate it with them is exciting.”
All three players, Heath said, brought the same level of excellence to the field every day.
“When I was thinking about what to say about them, consistency is the word that came to my head, because if you look at their stats, their averages, statistically what they’ve done, they’re there always,” Heath said. “They’re consistent in every aspect of their lives, too.”
Smith, who was LaGrange’s number one pitcher the past four seasons, has signed with West Georgia, an NCAA Division II school in Carrollton. Smith felt a comfort level during her visits to the West Georgia campus.
“I walked in, and I loved it, every bit of it,” Smith said. “Coach Al (Thomas) is great. It’ll be a blast to be there with him and all the girls. It’s exciting.”
Dennis, LaGrange’s second baseman for the past four seasons, will be going to Cartersville to play for Georgia Highlands College, a two-year school.
Dennis was happy to be able to share her big day with her friends and teammates.
“It means a lot being able to sign on the same day, knowing you worked hard together, and you get to celebrate together,” Dennis said.
Vanhoose, a four-year starter at shortstop, will be staying at home, and she’ll join a LaGrange College softball program led by head coach Jennifer Claybrook.
For Vanhoose, getting the opportunity to play in college is the fulfillment of a long-time goal.
“I’ve been working for this since I was little,” Vanhoose said. “I always wanted to do this. It’ll be exciting.”
Ormsby, meanwhile, still has one more season of high-school soccer to play before she makes the transition to college.
Ormsby, who is also a standout in golf, will lead the LaGrange soccer team when the season gets underway in February.
Ormsby won’t have to wait long after that to begin her college journey since soccer is a fall sport on the collegiate level, so she’ll join the Columbus State team in the fall of 2021.
“(Playing in college is) what I’ve wanted to do since I started soccer,” Ormsby said. “It’s really exciting.”
Andy Fritchley, who coaches the LaGrange girls’ team along with Colin Ross, said a key to Ormsby’s success is her fiery competitiveness, “and she expects that from her teammates, too. That’s awesome to have that for a competitor on your side. Not only putting it all out there for herself, but for her teammates. She makes her other teammates better. That’s what’s really special about her.”
OF NOTE: For much more on the signings and more photos, see Saturday’s sports section