By Monty Campbell
The Cove Herald
The Copperas Cove High School athletic department has witnessed several athletes sign letters of intent to attend prospective universities, but an unprecedented event took the showcase of signings May 16 in Bulldawg Gym.
Three different Lady Dawgs, who played three different sports, signed letters of intent to attend Ranger College, in front of adoring friends and family.
Rhianna Strickland (volleyball), Markia Bordeaux (softball) and Precious Williams (basketball) will forever be linked together as they each signed to continue their athletic careers in their respective sports at the college in Ranger.
Strickland, who demonstrated her cannon kill shots and versatility on the court during the tryout at Ranger, played an integral part of this past season’s success for the Lady Dawgs, not on the court but rather as a perky teammate on the bench.
Strickland did see key action in critical moments of some of the Lady Dawgs regional quarterfinal playoff season, but served more as a role player rather than a starter, in her senior season.
Despite seeing limited playing time, Strickland is pleased to still have the opportunity to play the sport that she adored throughout her childhood, at the next level.
“I’m putting high school behind me and looking forward to college, with the skills that I learned here. Playing time is the coach’s prerogative and I supported that and the team,” Strickland said. “I chose Ranger after receiving the tryout and meeting some of the girls on the team. I liked the small community around the school and since I love volleyball, decided to sign.”
One person pleased that she did sign was Ranger College head volleyball coach Terry Simpson. Simpson is looking to build around Strickland for the next couple of seasons.
“The first thing I liked about her (Strickland) was that she was left handed and powerful. It will allow us to run our offense from left to right and run the slide the same way,” Simpson said. “We are one of the smaller teams in the conference, so we do a lot of crossing and getting behind girls. Rhianna will fit right in with what we are trying to do.”
As pleased as the outgoing Lady Dawg and her new head coach were that she was gaining an opportunity to play at the next level, her parents, Barbara and Harry Strickland, reveled in the moment as well.
“We are on cloud nine right now and give all of our thanks to Mr. (Bill) Thomas,” Barbara and Harry Strickland said in unison, of the gentleman that set up the tryout. “She (Rhianna) deserves this because she is so ate up with the game. We are very proud of her to be able to continue playing volleyball and receive an education.”
Bordeaux was an instrumental cog to the Lady Dawg softball team this season, a season that witnessed the Lady Dawgs post a record of 18-14 while reaching the post-season for the first time since 2000.
Bordeaux — a senior outfielder, pitcher and clean-up hitter —desired to begin her collegiate career at Grambling University, but chose Ranger College when given the opportunity to experience the first two years at a smaller school.
Lady Dawg head softball coach, Jim Lowery, applauds the decision made by the eventual nursing student, adding that whatever Bordeaux wants to do, she will be able to accomplish.
“I think that this is great for Markia. She wanted to play at Grambling, but finally decided to play at Ranger and be successful,” Lowery said. “She (Markia) will be successful because of her determination and as far as her playing ability, she can play with anybody.”
Not only did the smaller school appeal to Bordeaux, but add in the relationship that she has with the other Lady Dawgs heading to Ranger and it was an easy one to make.
“I chose Ranger because of the hometown atmosphere and Rhianna is one of my closest friends here,” Bordeaux said. “We are both going into the nursing program, so I think we will be seeing each other a lot.”
Another individual that Bordeaux will be seeing a lot is her mother, Angela, who after raising four children is ready to travel to see her play softball at Ranger and hopefully on at Grambling.
“I am so proud of Markia because she has been through so much trying to prove that she can play and be a leader. I thank Coach Lowery for giving her that opportunity to prove that she is a leader,” Angela Bordeaux said. “I also want to thank Mr. Thomas for presenting this opportunity because they don’t come around that often and he has been helping kids from Cove out a lot.”
The final Lady Dawg to emerge from the group, after a tryout, was Precious Williams, a reserve forward from the 32-3 Region II-4A semifinalist basketball team.
Williams split much of her time this season acting as the back-up to the forwards and post players, if in fact she did not start the contest in many of the Lady Dawgs revolving lineups.
Like her two fellow Lady Dawgs, Williams made the most of her opportunity during the tryout at Ranger, impressing the assistant coach, Ashley Palma, and players.
“I chose Ranger because I really didn’t feel like I was going to play in college, but look forward to the opportunity,” Williams said. “This past year was a fun time and my the best year that I have had playing basketball.”
Contact Monty Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 547-9173.