By Zack Huffman
When it was announced that the Clayton County School Board had lost its accreditation, many rising seniors worried their prospects for sports scholarships would be increasingly dim. Now that Mt. Zion wrestler Michael Faison has officially signed with Baker University, he wants it to be known that anyone who wants it bad enough and works hard enough can earn a scholarship.
"In Clayton County there is still a chance for you," he said. "If you just go out and wrestle like it's your last mat you'll come out on top."
While it is common practice for college scouts to seek out talent among high school seniors, Faison learned about Baker University by reading a magazine advertisement from the school that read that they were looking for wrestling scholarship candidates to start up its new wrestling program.
"We sent them a tape and the coach said he was very interested," said Faison.
It was not much longer that Faison received the offer for a full-ride scholarship to be a part of Baker University's inaugural wrestling team.
Headed into the state wrestling tournament, Faison, who wrestles in 285 weight class, had a 31-3 record, including a first-place finish at the 4-AAAA region meet and a second-place finish at the AAAA West Sectionals.
According to coach Terrell Hawkins, who will be leaving Mt. Zion to coach wrestling at Charles Drew High School, Faison's success bodes well for Mt. Zion's program.
"With Mike setting the tone, wrestling will be better at Mt. Zion," he said. "It makes the other guys want to be in his footsteps."
Interim Mt. Zion coach Landry Alexander agreed that Faison has the potential to set a positive example for his fellow Bulldogs.
Before Faison, it had been four years since the last Mt. Zion wrestler signed a wrestling scholarship.
"I do hope this starts a new trend," he said. "This is the first time for me to have a wrestler that I've coached the chance to go to the next level.
Faison said he plans to study sociology and criminal justice at Baker. According to Faison, he is drawn towards those fields to study the sociological factors than can contribute to criminal activity.
"I had family members that would get in trouble and I never understood the reason why," he said.
His parents were most excited to hear that he would get an education without being hindered by economics.
"They saw something coming for me, but they couldn't tell what it was," said Faison of his parents. "When my acceptance letter and scholarship came from Baker University, they were speechless."