HOURS OF HARD WORK and dedication have paid off for five senior athletes at Franklin Parish High School. Kirren Whatley, Cade Watson, Gracie King, Kyle Bell and Robert Coleman Jr. (pictured above left to right with Coleman in the background) have signed letters of intent to play their sports at the collegiate level. (Sun photo by Joe Curtis)
For the first time in Franklin Parish High School history five seniors have signed letters of intent to play four different collegiate sports in one year.
Kyle Bell, Robert Coleman Jr., Gracie King, Cade Watson and Kirren Whitley will continue to play the sports they love at the next level.
Bell and Whitley signed football scholarships, Coleman will play college basketball, King will continue her softball career in college and Watson will be a college pitcher.
The five will have a quick transition from high school to college as they begin summer workouts whether on or off campus before the ink on their high school diplomas dry.
Kyle Bell, son of Jacob and Crystal Bell of Crowville, will handle long snapping duties for the Louisiana College Wildcats in Pineville.
Bell is no stranger to the position as this was his primary position for the Patriots.
Bell said even though this will be his first year playing at the college level, he brings experience and knowledge on how to be successful on the football field.
“I am going to bring experience on how to go from a 1-9 season to a winning season like we did (at Franklin Parish),” said Bell.
With Louisiana College’s on campus enrollment being around 750 students, Bell hopes transition will be smooth from high school to college.
“I’m nervous about meeting my new roommate, but I’m just going to go down there and be myself,” Bell said.
Bell plans to move to Louisiana College in June and begin summer classes and summer workouts as a Wildcat.
Robert Coleman Jr.
The game of basketball is a ticket for Robert Coleman Jr.’s main goal: a college education.
The FP basketball standout admits he will take advantage if a door opens to further his sports career at the division one level but says his focus is on education and becoming a better person.
“My main goal is my education,” Coleman said. “Education comes first.”
Coleman will play small forward for Coastal Alabama Community College. He is the son of Robert Sr., and Olivia Coleman of Winnsboro.
“I’m looking forward to working hard and being around good people,” Coleman said. “I’m going to stay true to the game, and I’m excited about making new friends.”
Gracie King’s determination to improve her game and her love of competing at a high level will be a perfect fit at LSU Eunice next season.
King signed a letter of intent to play with the number one nationally ranked LSUE Bengals earlier this year. The LSUE softball team has won the NJCAA national championships 2011, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017.
“I am looking forward to the competition and teamwork,” King said. “We will all be working to accomplish one goal.”
The infielder is excited about the opportunity, but she will miss some aspects of the high school game.
“I’ll miss my teammates and playing with my sister,” King said.
With future aspirations of competing at the division one level in a few years, King said there is one more item she is hoping to achieve at LSUE.
“I’m looking forward to possibly winning a ring,” King said, smiling.
With LSUE’s current success, a national championship ring may just be in her bright future.
Cade Watson, son of Tim Watson and Holly Martin of Wisner, plans to bring his talent on the pitching mound to Bossier Parish Community College next year.
As one chapter of his life closes, Watson is excited about the new one he is about to begin.
“I’m excited about playing with a new team and starting new friendships,” Watson said.
But, Watson admits he will miss his time spent at FP.
“I will miss my teammates and coaches the most,” Watson said.
Watson, who was an anchor on the Patriot baseball team this season, plans to rest his arm this summer and go through his new school’s workout program.
“I’m going to take care of my body and watch what I do physically,” Watson said.
Kirren Whitley, son of Johnsua Whitley and Everett Richardson of Winnsboro, has overcome a right knee injury, matured and worked hard to get the opportunity to play football at the next level.
Whitley will be a left guard at Northeast Mississippi Community College next season, and he plans to make the most of this opportunity.
“I’m happy that I have this opportunity to play football again,” Whitley said. “I’ve learned to be resilient, and in high school had to do a lot of growing up.”
Whitley’s main goal at Northeast Mississippi is make the best of the opportunity he has been given and to get an education.