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UCHS senior ready to step out of ‘kid’ shoes, get into ‘real deal’

UCHS senior Brett Kingrea and his family may have taken a winding road to Unicoi County, but he’s certain he couldn’t have ended up in a better place with better friends for his final year of high school.
Kingrea was born in Radford, Va., where he and his family spent four years before moving to Kentucky. Kingrea’s father, Todd, was just getting into the ministry and attended seminary school there.
Not long afterward, Kingrea’s little brother Matthew, now 12, was born and the family packed up again for a move to Etowah, Tenn., where Kingrea continued school through his sophomore year at McMinn Central High School in Englewood.
“My dad gave me the option of finishing my junior year at McMinn Central or coming here,” Kingrea said. “But I wanted to have at least two years to make friends and get to know (people) before graduation.”
Kingrea said he and his family arrived in Unicoi County just a few weeks before the start of his junior year. He said that not even two hours after the family had arrived, the neighbors had invited them over for dinner.
“The people here were so nice,” he said. “And I loved the mountains.”
On his first night in Unicoi County, Kingrea met Nick Rogers, who he said became his best friend almost immediately.
Kingrea said he and his family were also impressed when they toured the high school, and really appreciated the office staff’s efficiency in getting him enrolled and registered for classes.
Asked about his favorite classes and academics, Kingrea admitted there are “a lot of subjects I don’t really care for.” He said math has never been a strong suit, but that he has been inspired by many of the teachers at UCHS, regardless of their subject areas.
In particular, Kingrea said his Spanish teacher, Jennifer Norris, helped him comprehend difficult materials thanks to her outgoing method of teaching and that Glen White related information about the United States government in an effective way that he really enjoyed.
Kingrea also mentioned his health science teacher, Kim Berry, as being one of his favorite instructors throughout his high school career.
“She has an excellent curriculum and everything she teaches, if you pay attention, is really beneficial,” he said.
Kingrea has also been an avid lover of baseball since he was 4 years old, citing his grandfather as his greatest influence to play and enjoy the sport.
“Since I was a freshman in high school, I haven’t gotten to play very much due to moving around and being new in town,” he said. “But Coach Baxter has been wonderful and I really respect him a lot. There’s so many things I have learned from him since being here.”
Kingrea went on to say that his teammates and the coaches at UCHS have been among the best he’s ever worked with in the sport.
Kingrea is now ready to take the next step on his journey toward a career in law enforcement, but admits he is a little unsure of all the details involved in getting from where he is now to where he hopes to be.
“Right now, I’m just focusing on getting through college,” he said. “I’m not really totally sure what I’ll do after I get my degree.”
Kingrea said one path he hopes to be able to take is to major in criminal justice and criminology at East Tennessee State University, where he will start classes this fall. After that, he’d like to take his talents westward.
“I’ve spent the majority of my life on the East Coast,” Kingrea said, adding he would love to move to San Diego and participate on a SWAT team for the police department there.
Kingrea said his family took a vacation to California the summer before last and his time in San Diego convinced him it would be an excellent place to live and work.
“The weather’s nice. The people are nice,” he said. “I think it would be a good working environment.”
He was quick to add that his outgoing personality would serve him well in such a big city. “I like to talk a lot and meet and get to know people, and make friends,” he said.
Kingrea’s hobbies include art, playing XBox, and having his friends over or going out with them to enjoy his spare time. Kingrea said he also enjoys giving his friends counsel whenever they need it, and lending a helping hand in difficult situations.
Kingrea’s father, Todd, is the pastor at Unicoi United Methodist Church. His mother, Felicia, is a lab worker at Johnson City Medical Center.
Kingrea concluded by saying he hopes to be married with a family in 10 to 15 years and enjoying his career.
“It’s time to step out of the little kid shoes,” he said with a laugh. “Time to get into the real deal.”