By Richard Rourk
Unicoi County Schools continues to send a message to other schools in the state.
The Unicoi County Middle School softball team won the state championship over the weekend and now Unicoi County High School is preparing to send two track stars to compete at the state level.
The athletes received a send-off at a recent school board meeting.
“Thad Higgins is our track coach and unfortunately he couldn’t be here as he is driving a group to the Clover Bowl but I wanted to recognize a few student-athletes that are going to state to compete,” said John English, director of Unicoi County Schools.
“Shelby Miller and Caitlin Paulins are going to state to compete later this week and we are very proud of them. They have represented this track team well and they have also fought hard to help Unicoi County Schools secure funding for a proposed track so future Unicoi County students could have home track meets.”
Miller, who is competing in shot put and discus at state, is excited to compete. “We have been working hard for this opportunity and I’m excited to be able to compete,” Miller said.
For Paulins, who is competing in pole vault at state, practice and hard work is beginning to pay off.
“I started track when I was in sixth grade,” Paulins said. “I got into pole vaulting in high school and I actually set the UCHS record and I came back my junior year and broke that record.”
Paulins, who is considering several scholarship offers from several schools, has a goal in mind for the state competition.
“I currently have a vault of 10 foot 6 inches but I’m aiming for 11 (feet),” Paulins said.
Miller, who has committed to playing volleyball for Milligan, is thankful for her support system. “I started track in high school and I’ve been blessed to have coach Higgins and a coach out of Johnson City named Anthony Stockton to help me along the way,” Miller said.
Having a moment to reflect, Paulins is appreciative of all the support she has had over the years as she prepares for completion.
“I have to thank my coaches and teammates I’ve had over the years that have pushed me,” she said. “My parents have been so supportive, I’m just very thankful.”
Both Miller and Paulins have advice for future athletes at UCHS. “Never give up and push yourself,” Miller and Paulins said.