For a trio of Science Hill athletes, their college choices are as different as the sports they play.
Golfer Allison Woodward signed with Virginia Tech of the Atlantic Coast Conference during a Wednesday ceremony at the new Science Hill Gymnasium. Swimmer Tessa Wilson is going the Ivy League route at Cornell, while softball player Emma Martindale decided to stay close to home and play for an ETSU program she has grown up around.
They were part of six Hilltoppers to sign Division I scholarships, joining girls’ basketball player Gabby Lyon and baseball players Daniel Sweeney and Matthew Beaird.
For Woodward, the signing capped off a whirlwind few weeks which included leading Science Hill to its first ever girls golf state championship.
“It was a great season and all of us were like sisters on the team,” Woodward said. “I’m sad to leave them, but I know they’re going to do Science Hill proud.”
The state championship came one week after Woodward and her team swept honors at the Region 1-AAA tournament. The Lady ’Toppers won that tournament by 20 strokes over a trio of second-place teams, and it came on the heels of them also sweeping District 1-AAA championships.
Woodward, who finished fifth at the state tournament after posting a sixth-place last season, qualified for the state meet each of her four seasons at Science Hill. She was sold on Virginia Tech’s new women’s golf program after meeting with head coach Carol Robertson.
“She’s fantastic, a class act and a hard worker,” Woodward said. “She had everything I wanted in a coach so that appealed to me. It’s a great school, great academics and a wonderful opportunity.”
It is the academic challenge which has Wilson heading to the Finger Lakes region of New York. The three-time Northeast Tennessee Swimmer of the Year and five-time regional champion will join her older brother, Taylor, at Cornell where she plans to major in hotel and restaurant management.
“I really like the (swim) team and the coaches there, but I’m really excited about the hotel school,” she said. “My brother goes to Cornell as a business major. I’m just a people person and it’s really a hands-on experience there. I think it’s something I will really enjoy.”
She is a force in the pool, a four-time All-State selection and a USA Swimming Junior National qualifier. She has regional titles in the 100-yard freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 100 backstroke and 50 freestyle events. Wilson and the Hilltoppers are off to another great start her senior season. She won the 100 freestyle on Sunday as the ‘Toppers won a tri-meet against Knoxville Bearden and Hardin Valley at the University of Tennessee.
“We’ve had some really great swims and some great time-drops,” she said. “My favorite event is actually the 100 backstroke. It’s nice to be good at something and I’ve excelled in that area. I get a real rush when I do well in that event.”
Martindale, a three-time all-conference selection, was part of Science Hill’s 2012 softball team which set school records with 40 wins and 335 runs scored. She’s excited now to apply her trade across town where she will trade in the maroon and gold for the blue and gold of the Lady Bucs.
“I’ve always grown up around the program and I love the coaches,” Martindale said. “The whole atmosphere, I like ETSU as a whole so I’m very excited about it.”
Although she has mainly been a pitcher throughout her high school career, Martindale expects to be an infielder in college. She had a .331 batting average last season with 20 runs scored and 35 RBIs in addition to posting a 2.99 ERA in 86 2/3 innings. She was particularly happy to get the signing out of the way before her senior season begins.
“I wanted to sign before the season started so I didn’t have to worry about it,” Martindale said. “I’m honored to sign with an incredible group of athletes. It is unusual to have six Division 1 signings at one school, but it’s a testament to the athletics at Science Hill and how hard our athletes work. I look for everyone here to do well.”