Wednesday brought about an unseasonably cold day for mid-November in Statesboro.
A freeze warning was in effect as the sun rose and the day provided anything but ideal baseball weather, but that didn’t stop Georgia Premier Academy from adding two more players to its quickly-growing list of collegiate signings.
Sheltered from the cold and breezy weather outside, members of the youth baseball program gathered inside the communal space at the GPA facility to congratulate Ryan Nottage and Harold Coll as they signed up to play for Bryan College and the University of North Carolina, respectively.
Nottage, a catcher, has been with the organization for four years and made the transition with GPA when it made its move from Hinesville to Statesboro two years ago.
Nottage is one of several players to move on to the Dayton, Tenn. school coming out of the academy and is thrilled to keep the pipeline flowing.
“Today is an exciting day,” Nottage said. “I’m so thankful for (GPA) that has helped me grow and that gives us the opportunity to have everything we need right here. It will be good to know that I already have friends there as I get used to a new school”
Coll received plenty of attention from top-tier Division I programs throughout the nation, but ultimately decided to sign with a Tar Heel squad that has fielded plenty of top-10 teams throughout the last decade.
For Cole, the chance to grab the eye of such a renowned program involved some personal sacrifice. A Boston native, Cole recently made the decision to move to Statesboro in order to get into a program — and climate — that was conducive to year-round training and improvement.
“North Carolina is a great program,” Cole said. “The environment seemed nice and I’ll be by my grandma. I’m going to go there looking to start strong. I want to be a leader”
Collegiate signings are always celebrated by coaches and teammates, but Wednesday’s ceremony lacked the family element that is another huge part of such a big decision. The vast majority of players in the academy are living on campus and far away from family - be it across state lines or international boundaries.
But while it might be tough for signees to celebrate such a big moment in their career with family members absent, the faith-based and communal environment promoted by GPA ensured that there was still a family atmosphere.
“We pride ourselves on guys signing and going to the right school for them,” GPA coach Gene Reynolds said. “Today is about two special guys, but we’re all family here. We want everyone to cheer and feel as good for their teammates as they would if it was them signing, because the goal is that a lot of our guys are going to be in this spot someday.”
Georgia Premier has a wealth of rising senior players who are also on the radar of colleges during the upcoming season and expect to have many more signings in the coming months.
As for on-the-field action, the academy’s home field was just recently completed and the team will split into two squads to compete in a best-of-five ‘Fall World Series’ next week.