Shelby County Schools showcases skills of student-athletes


SCIAA Athletics

Over the course of the two-day showcase, hundreds of football players gear up in masks and display their athleticism to make up for the loss of their season. The showcase facilitated methods to continue the recruitment process for juniors and seniors.

On the field of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, rivals and teammates alike across Shelby County Schools (SCS) met, not for a final showdown, but for a showcase of their individual skills to replace the fall season and lost footage opportunities. 

The football showcase on Nov. 13-14 was the last of a series of showcases hosted by SCS for fall athletes, and the largest conglomeration of football players gathered in one stadium since COVID-19 struck to demonstrate their abilities. 
“I wanted to see, like, what I could do, and I also wanted to see the level of other athletes in this area… where I am among them and my chances for college [recruitment],” defensive end Tekobo Dongmo (12) said. 

Separated by position in small groups, players measured their explosiveness and agility through footwork exercises, verticals, broad jumps and 40-yard dashes while following safety guidelines. 

“We were wearing masks when we weren’t in the drill, and one person was going at a time, so no one else was around,” Kris Peat (12) said. “There was always someone around making sure everyone kept their distance.”

Some athletes participated in the showcase to explore options to play beyond high school. 

“[The showcase] has so much to do with my recruitment process,” offensive tackle Eli Webster (11) said. “It was my first camp, so either way it was a step forward. Once they said they would send [footage] to college coaches…  I thought ‘this is the real deal’.”

Students who wish to continue their sport in college could face difficulties when transitioning to a higher level of playing. Most have relied only on summer conditioning and personal workouts to maintain fitness. 

“I think it’s going to be a bit tough,” Peat said. “You’re not playing for a whole year, and then you’re playing with people who have been playing for four or five years… It’s like a major jump in competition. There might be a real struggle for some people, especially if they weren’t that active.”

The showcases held for each fall sport obviously cannot completely compensate for the loss of a season, but athletes appreciated the opportunity to play. 

“I was really grateful that I got to do it with my teammates… and that I got to play in the gym for a last time even though it wasn’t real volleyball,” libero McKenzie Cornell (12), who participated in the volleyball showcase, said. 

While the fall season failed to meet expectations, SCS athletes took advantage of the showcases and made do with the limited opportunities.  

“I’m happy that they had a lot of people sign up, and I hope it helps people in SCS who can’t afford club ball [for another chance to play],” Cornell said. “I think [the organization] did the best they could with the options Dr. Ray gave them.”