It doesn’t happen every day, so when a high school athlete gets the chance to play at the next level you have to get excited. That’s just what will happen for Pulaski County High School senior Brayden Morris after he graduates, as he signed his official paperwork on Wednesday to become a member of the Brevard College Tornados.
“We’re all very happy for Brayden and his family” said Cougar head baseball coach Doug Dunavant. “Brayden is a team player and has always shown a great work ethic. We’re glad that he’s going to get to play at the next level and get his education.”
As he gathered with family, coaches, and friends to make his decision official, Morris seemed to have a weight removed from his shoulders. “Last season I had some people watching, and I think I put too much pressure on myself” said the lanky catcher. “The team needed me to play some positions I wasn’t used too last season, and I always try to do things perfect. I think between that and being worried about making this decision, I sort of lost focus on what I was doing at times. With this decision made, I know that this season is going to be a great one.”
While he felt like he lost a little of his focus on the field, one place he didn’t lose his focus was in the classroom. Morris carries a 3.8 grade point average, and hopes to focus his studies in college on exercise science. His goal is to be an athletic trainer.
Morris looked at several other schools before making his decision, including West Virginia, Concord, and King College. A few key factors helped finalize his decision. “When I took my visit to Brevard, it felt like home,” said Morris. “It’s a small school, and it’s in a small town. The atmosphere was like a family, and I was really impressed and comfortable with the coaches. It just felt right.”
Of course this was also a big day for his parents. “You see him work so hard for so many years, and to see him finally reaching his goals is just a great thing,” said his mother Jackie Morris. “The school is a little over three hours away, so he’s going to have to learn to do his own laundry.”
Brayden’s dad, Randall Morris, has been involved with baseball in Pulaski County for years. “I’m so proud. He’s always worked hard, and to see that paying off now is really special. I think having this decision made early will allow him to enjoy his senior season even more.”
Matt McCay, the head coach for the Tornados, is in his second year in the position after being an assistant coach for the University of North Carolina Tar Heels for three years. At UNC, his main responsibilities were as a hitting and catching coach and was instrumental in their 2008 and 2009 College World Series run.
The Tornados are a Division 2 school, and are a part of the ten team Southern Athletic Conference.
“I’m very thankful for this opportunity to achieve my dreams,” said Morris. “If I could give one piece of advice to a young player who wants to make it, it would be to make sure you focus on your grades. You can be the best player in the world, but if you don’t have the grades you can’t get into college. Work hard on the field, but make sure you do the same thing in the classroom.”