Collectively, the Blue Ridge Bears were a force to be reckoned with when they were 9 and 10 years old.
The Bears aged well, too.
Nine former players for the Henderson County youth baseball team have signed with colleges in the past week.
Those scholarship recipients are Brevard’s Johnny Stamey (Mars Hill), Roberson’s Dominick Cammarata (Tennessee), Braxton Davidson (North Carolina), Katon Harwood (Appalachian State) and Connor Lind (Northwestern), North Buncombe’s Carson Jones (Appalachian State), North Henderson’s Zack Gahagan (North Carolina) and West Henderson’s Storm Edwards (N.C. State) and Mitchell McCrary (N.C. Central).
Eight members of that group got together at their old stomping grounds recently to have group photos made.
“It was like a family reunion,” Edwards said of the scene inside Hendersonville’s Jackson Park.
“It was great to see everyone. It’s amazing to think how far we’ve come.”
Wednesday was the final day for future NCAA athletes to participate in the school year’s initial signing period, which began on Nov. 13.
West Henderson held a ceremony for Edwards and McCrary, as well as girls golf players Payton Culler (USC Upstate) and Chandler Danielson (UNC Wilmington) and volleyball players Savanna Austin (UNC Asheville) and Kelly McNamara (Gardner-Webb).
Edwards is an outfielder, while McCrary doubled as an outfielder and pitcher for the Falcons’ 20-3 Western North Carolina Athletic Conference championship team last spring. Both were All-WNCAC selections as juniors.
“Having this (signing) under our belt is huge and now we can focus on the future,” McCrary said. “When everyone with the Bears got together, we knew we had potential. But it’s fun to see where everyone is now. We split up after it was all over, but there are still a lot of good memories.”
The Bears were based out of Henderson County and shared the same colors (blue and yellow) and mascot as the now-defunct Blue Ridge Community College baseball program.
The first tryout for the Bears was in March 2006.
During the youth team’s three-year run, the Bears won three state championships and finished as high as second at the U.S. Specialty Sports Association World Series.
In all, 19 area high school juniors or seniors have informed the Citizen-Times that they have committed or signed to play college baseball, which is 12 more than the next-highest sport (basketball with seven recruits).