Success on the field is something all athletes strive for. Being on a winning team is not everything, but it does make a high school career mean more to a person.
For Trinity Christian Academy graduate Kyle Akin, success followed him in all fields that he chose to play on.
Akin was a three-sport athlete for the Lions in football, basketball and soccer, and his help in leading these teams to successful seasons has earned him the honor of The Jackson Sun’s 2015 Male Athlete of the Year.
Football and basketball have been mainstays for Akin throughout his high school career.
His ability at quarterback on the football field helped the Lions to a 30-16 record during his career with a 20-4 mark the last two seasons.
“Football is my No. 1 passion now,” Akin said. “I loved football more than any other sport after my freshman year.”
As a senior, he completed 218 of 319 passes for 3,265 yards and 42 touchdowns with six interceptions. He also rushed 50 times for 332 yards and three touchdowns to be named the Class A Mr. Football Back of the Year.
“The success of the program was not necessarily me,” Akin said. “It was the guys in my grade. We wanted to build this team.
“I also had the privilege of playing with guys like Grant Reviere, Eli Parker, Ryan Smith and Chase Diggs. These guys have been with me for a while, and they grew as a team. We went to summer camps as a team and grew together. Going into my junior season, we knew that there was something special going to happen.”
On the basketball court, the TCA teams Akin played on were just as successful, making three sectional appearances in four years.
“My dad had the great influence on me playing basketball,” Akin said. “He coached me growing up, and he taught me everything I needed to know about the sport. He made my interest level grow, and basketball was my favorite sport until my freshman year.”
Akin continued to play basketball throughout high school, which meant a short transition period out of football and onto the basketball court.
“Basketball is a great sport, but if you don’t have the right teammates and coaches, it is not as nearly as fun,” Akin said. “We had a great middle school team with Rod Parker as our coach, and we just expected success in high school. We were a group of winners, and we would do whatever it takes to win.”
Soccer was the sport that came later for Akin.
“I played baseball until my freshman year, but that was the sport I dropped to focus on football and basketball in high school,” he said. “But sophomore year, I had a few friends in Matt Mascolo and Will Hall that wanted me to come out for the soccer team.
“Thomas Barnes [the goalkeeper the previous season] had just graduated, and they needed someone to play goalkeeper. I had a great time. I didn’t play my junior year to focus on football, but as a senior I wanted to play some kind of sport because I wanted those memories of the end of football season and basketball season out of my mind.”
Now that he has graduated and had time to reflect, Akin can pick out his top moment from each of the sports.
“The best game in football has to be the ECS game this past season,” he said. “It is something that I will always remember. I got to throw three touchdowns to my best friend Landon Ross.
“In basketball, it has to be the Westwood game freshman year at home in the region semifinals. It was a packed house, and Westwood had three guys that were like 6-foot-6, 6-foot-7. In soccer, it has to be playing in the state tournament sophomore year. It was an action-packed game for me in goal. It was weird because playing football and basketball I never expected my first state tournament game to come in soccer.”
Akin said he is going to miss playing basketball and soccer competitively in college, but he has signed to play college football at UT Martin.
“It is going to be difficult, but it is going to be better for me,” he said. “During high school, I would get big for football, and then run it off in basketball. Focusing on one sport, I can increase my muscle mass, and I can learn more about the sport of football.
“I can always play basketball with the football guys in the gym, and that will be enough for me.”
Michael Odom, 425-9754
Finalists for Athlete of the Year
Brennan Conaway (Chester County) – Conaway was a two-sport athlete for the Eagles in football and soccer.
Conaway was a constant target for Chester County quarterback Bo Morris and used his speed to move the ball up the field.
Chester County won its first district championship this past season.
But he was even better on the soccer field, as he led West Tennessee in goals with 22 and added five assists.
His offensive impact helped the Eagles get out of the district tournament for the first time in program history. He was named to the All-West Tennessee Boys’ Soccer First Team.
Kaleb McKinnie (Bolivar) – McKinnie was a three-sport athlete for the Tigers in football, basketball and baseball.
In football, McKinnie helped Bolivar to get better as the season went on and win three of its final four games.
He was named to the TSWA Class AA All-State team in basketball while playing guard and being the most consistent scorer for the Tigers this season.
He also played baseball, being a wall in the infield with few errors and producing base hits on a consistent basis.
Collin McPherson (Chester County) – McPherson was a three-sport athlete for the Eagles in golf, basketball and baseball.
Baseball was his best sport as he pitched and played shortstop, and he will be playing college baseball at Jackson State next year.
This year on the mound, he was 6-2 with a 1.02 ERA and 52 strikeouts. He batted .472 with nine home runs, 20 doubles and 58 RBI to be named to the All-West Tennessee Baseball First Team.
McPherson advanced to the region tournament in golf this season, falling short of a trip to the state tournament.
In basketball, he played guard and worked to help turn the Chester County program around.
Terrikous Smith (South Side) – Smith was a two-sport athlete for the Hawks in basketball and baseball.
Smith played a vital role on the basketball team, taking over a starting spot and excelling there.
He averaged 17 points and five rebounds to be named to the All-West Tennessee Boys’ Basketball Second Team.
In baseball, he used his speed in the outfield to grab big catches and help South Side compete against some of the best baseball teams in West Tennessee.
He was also a strong bat in the batting order and also pitched.