National Signing Day for Five Gaither Seniors

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Rachel Slay

Signees pose for pictures with their families.

Rachel Slay, Editor-in-Chief

Friends and family filled the media center to watch five of Gaither’s seniors sign their official commitments to continue their athletic and academic careers today, National Signing Day.

Gabrielle Marshall will be joining the NJCAA Divison II Cross Country team at Pasco Hernando State College in New Port Richey, Fla. 

“She always gave advice to the new runners… I’m proud to see that she’s moving on to run collegiately,” cross county coach Bill Jenkins said. 

Cheer coach Megan Holcomb spoke about cheerleader Emily Kochan’s constant commitment. 

“Everything I’ve asked her to do, she’s always done it even when it wasn’t directed at her,” Holcomb said. 

Emily Kochan signed to Saint Leo University in Saint Leo, Fla.

Deveon Knighton plans to leave Florida to play football for Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

Head football coach Kirk Karsen shared how impressed he was with Knighton’s final season. 

“He had six catches last year. I was probably a horrible coach for not playing him that much… This year he said ‘I’m gonna prove you wrong, I promise I’m gonna make you proud…’ He finished this season third in the state in catches,” Karsen said. 

Tony Bartalo and Chance Coleman will be playing for NCAA Division I football programs. 

Before giving his congratulations, Karsen told a story about Coleman, who Karsen calls his “second son.” 

When Coleman first arrived at Gaither, he saw a special needs student being picked on by other students in the hallway. Coleman told them that if he ever saw them doing it again, they’d have a problem with him and his teammates. 

“The kid has an incredible heart,” Karsen said. 

Karsen also spoke highly of Bartalo’s character saying, “he’s not just a great football player, but he’s also a great student… He’s a very kindhearted kid.”

Bartalo will head north to Bethune Cookman University in Daytona, Fla. Coleman will head south to Florida International University in Miami. 

Each athlete that signed to a school has received a scholarship to compete at the next level.