Signed, Sealed, Delivered: 12 South Athletes Sign with College Athletics


Maggie Craig / The Bird Feed

South Cross Country and Track and Field signee Carmel Yonas poses with her cross country team, who all came to support Yonas on Signing Day.

Rathna Malapati and Avani Prabhu

On Feb. 1-3, 12 South Forsyth athletes committed to continuing their athletic careers at a variety of colleges across the country.

The Arena filled with families, friends, coaches and other students who all came to show their support for the talented players. SFHS Principal Laura Wilson opened the festivities with inspiring words of encouragement and congratulations for players and their families alike.

After an additional message from Associate Athletic Director Shayla Brawner, the event began with SFHS Head Baseball Coach Russ Bayer stepping forward to introduce the day’s first signee, pitcher Yash Jain.

“[Baseball] made me a better person,” Jain said. “I’ve been able to talk to more people and really figure out how to be a team player.”

All three baseball signees pitched for SFHS in addition to other positions on the field. Jain signed to St. Peter’s University in New Jersey, Michael Sime (pitcher, outfielder) signed to Chattanooga State Community College and Alex Urias (pitcher, outfielder) signed to University of West Florida.
“I think it’s a beautiful moment for [athletes] to recognize how hard they work,” Nicola Sime, father of baseball player, Michael Sime, said. 

Next the packed stadium honored girls cross country and track and field runner Carmel Yonas, who signed with Georgia Tech.

“I feel proud of the work that I’ve done over the past four years, and to be able to represent the Black population [of South] at an institution like Georgia Tech,” Yonas said.

From South’s football program, Tyler Simpson (kicker) signed to Shorter University, Nathan Efobi (offensive/defensive lineman) signed to the University of Michigan and Ty Watkins (quarterback) signed to Austin Peay State University. 

The joyous event also allowed coaches and other mentors to express their admiration for the athletes.

“I just think [Watkins] is a great person, great leader and a great teammate,” Asst. Athletic Director Brawner said. “He’s all of those things, which to me are the most important qualities that you can have.” 

Following football, coaches, students and family members honored two signees from SFHS Boys Lacrosse: Christian McConnell (midfielder) who signed to Rollins College and Carter Peterson (midfielder) who signed to Queens University.

Next, the crowd celebrated SFHS Boys Varsity Soccer Program signee Dino Stavros (left wing) who signed to University of Memphis.

“I’m most proud of [Dino’s] effort and competitiveness,” said SFHS Soccer Coach Luke Wagner. “He’s the same at practice every day. He always wants to get better, and he cares so much about this program, especially for a kid who lives such a long way away to come over here and do that. That’s been awesome.”

Following soccer, SFHS softball player Charlotte Brooks (second base, outfielder) signed to Furman University.

Last but not least, Cole Williams of the SFHS Varsity Wrestling Team signed to Ohio Northern University.

For Matthew Vollrath, SFHS Director of Lacrosse and a South alum, the environment in the stadium was familiar. In 2014, Vollrath signed with Emmanuel College to play the sport he now coaches.

As a coach, teacher and former student-athlete, Vollrath had words of wisdom for all twelve signees.

“College is a lot different, athletics wise. It’s a job,” Vollrath said. “Time management is key; you need to prioritize. When you have syllabus week in college, don’t just go back to your dorm and sit there and do nothing. Look at your syllabus, get your classwork together, get all your stuff you need ready to go, and even start working on that work for your classes.”

In the nine years since Vollrath was an SFHS student-athlete, he’s seen the county’s athletic programs increase both their offerings and the quality of coaching and opportunities student-athletes receive.

“Back in I was [an SFHS student-athlete, South offered] maybe core sports and then one or two other ones,” Vollrath said. “Now you have Fishing. Now you have Equestrian. You have all kinds of things.”

In addition to the expansive growth of sports offered in Forsyth County Schools, Vollrath also credits the day’s large number of signees to the increasing quality of athletic programs operating across the county as a whole.

This county has [put in the work] athletics-wise on the youth level to the high school level,” Vollrath said. “You don’t start out as a high schooler and go sign somewhere. It starts [in] middle school, elementary school putting in that work. So that means other middle schools, elementary schools, [their] athletic programs, and the rec leagues around here are doing a very, very good job getting these kids ready to go sign.”

For FCS students in kindergarten all the way to high school, the joyous nature of celebrations like Signing Day provide inspiration to players of all ages.

I want to go play football in college, so [getting to see Signing Day] was pretty cool for me,” said Davis Lancaster, an SFHS freshman who attended the event. “It was really cool seeing all these student-athletes go on to sign. It’s just really impressive.”