By Doug Gorman
Wednesday was a historic day for the athletic department at Jonesboro High School.
Seniors LaTreace Johnson and Sheena Brown became the first players from Clayton County to sign college volleyball scholarships.
The two close friends and teammates won't let college separate them as they both will be attending Brewton Parker College, located in Mt. Vernon.
Brown and Johnson have been two of the cornerstones for a Jonesboro volleyball team which hasn't lost a regular-season match in two years. The Lady Cardinals have won back-to-back region titles, and this year they broke into the state rankings for the first time in school history, garnering a trip to the state tournament.
Both Jonesboro athletes are proud of the fact that they helped put their school on the state volleyball map.
"I came here my freshman year and worked hard so it's a good feeling," said Brown. "I'm hoping to progress even more at the next level. It's a good feeling to know you have started a chain and hopefully others will follow."
Johnson began playing the game as a seventh grader, but didn't move to the Jonesboro area in time to start her freshman season. Since her sophomore year, however, she has been one of the school's top players.
"I think my progression since my 10th-grade year has been great, especially with coach (Dan) Maehlman pushing us to get better," Johnson said. "We made history; I always told my parents that I wanted to make an impact on my school. Now my best friend and I are going to go to college together to play volleyball."
Their coach will be sorry to see them go.
"They will practically be impossible to replace, not just as volleyball players, but as students. "They are great people and come from great families. I'm very proud of them, they both deserve to get their college education paid for," Maehlman said.
Like many best friends, Johnson and Brown seem to know what the other is thinking. That's even true when it comes to recalling their fondest moment on the volleyball court.
Both athletes say their most exciting volleyball memory comes from their sophomore season when they beat Eagle's Landing in the area championship match.
Jonesboro fell behind 2-0, but rallied to win the next three matches.
The Jonesboro seniors call Brewton Parker a perfect fit to spend their college years. During their recruiting visit to the school, the two players said they felt right at home on the small college campus.
Brewton Parker volleyball coach Jason Bryant is excited about landing the two players from Jonesboro.
"We have been recruiting them since they were juniors," Bryant said. "We need somebody to play in the middle and somebody to play on the outside, so they fit the bill. They came in and worked out for us, and our girls took to them, so hopefully it's a match made in heaven.
However, before the two athletes can think about starting their college volleyball careers, there is some more pressing business to take care of on the basketball floor.
Brown and Johnson are also members of the Lady Cardinals' state-ranked basketball team. A year ago, Jonesboro advanced to the state Sweet 16.
Just like they do in volleyball, the two players bring plenty of talent and leadership to basketball court too.
The Lady Cardinals are off to a 4-0 start. In Tuesday's victory against Forest Park, Brown led the team with 11 points and Johnson chipped in 8.
Head basketball coach John Kovzel also doesn't look forward to replacing Brown and Johnson.
"They are my two captains this year," he said. "Coming from volleyball straight to basketball they both take on a big leadership role. They work hard in every sport they play."