It might be summer, but Ferrum College will get a boost when March arrives on campus.
The Marches, in fact.
Twins Erin and Ryan March have both committed to Ferrum to play sports next year.
Both siblings are three-sport athletes who just earned all-conference honors for track — which is only their third-best sport.
Erin, the elder by just a few minutes, played volleyball and basketball and will shoot hoops for the Lady Panthers. Ryan played football and was a team captain for basketball; he will join the Panthers on the gridiron.
Ferrum basketball coach Bryan Harvey said he came to Surry County to check out some players for the Surry Storm AAU team.
He is getting three players from here as Mount Airy’s Jasmine Varney recently announced her decision. Also, Surry Central’s Brooke Lewis joins the mix (look for an article on Lewis in an upcoming edition of The News).
Harvey’s team finished its basketball season 27-3 this spring.
“The school is nice, I like it,” said Erin. “They have the program that I want to be in, which is physical therapy, or sports science.”
“It was a nice campus, the class size would be small,” added mom Stephanie. “The team really bonded together well. Coach Harvey is really nice and made us feel really welcome from day one.”
With Erin leaning toward Ferrum, football coach Danny Lyons helped Ryan, a wide receiver, get noticed.
Lyons said he put together some highlights for an Internet recruiting service, which caught the eye of Ferrum’s wide receiver coach.
When the college assistant came to North, Lyons admitted that his football team ran the ball so much that Ryan only had the chance to catch a couple of balls all season.
“Ryan is 6-foot-2, runs well and is strong,” said Lyons.
While Ryan’s lack of pass-catching opportunities would hurt his chances of making a college team, the coach who saw Ryan work out was very impressed with his physical skills.
“I talked to Coach (Bobby) James. He likes the fact that I’m tall and I can run fast. He said on defense he would probably have me as an outside linebacker because he says that’s what I’m built like.”
Speed and agility for a young man his size is a prized commodity in football. That speed was in evidence as he helped the Greyhounds 4x100m relay team take second place in the Western Piedmont Conference Championship.
On the basketball team, Ryan got a late start coming over from football but still managed to be third in rebounding, second in shot blocking and second in shooting percentage.
While he doesn’t have any friends on the Panthers’ football team, Ryan noted that former hoops teammate Chase Gough will be a junior at Ferrum this fall.
As for his football teammates, he said, “Hopefully I can get up there and they take me in as one of their own.”
Ryan said he played basketball in a youth recreational league, but he didn’t play pee wee football in grade school.
“In the sixth grade, I tried out to play football for my first year. I’ve got to say it went pretty well for my first year playing football. I also played basketball and ran track.”
In the seventh grade at Meadowview Middle School, Ryan earned the most improved award for both basketball and track. He also received the best all-around performance for the field side of track.
In high school he received the track team’s best all-around men’s award. While he made the all-conference team for his relay work, Ryan just missed making the team for his triple jump and long jump abilities.
Erin also played youth basketball before branching out at Meadowview.
“In sixth grade I ran track. … I did long jump, 100 and 600,” she said. “In eighth I played volleyball.”
While at Meadowview, she received a most improved award one year in track.
Both siblings played AAU ball for several years.
Erin said her Storm coaches were Keith Seivers, Gerald Culler and Alan Hiatt.
For the boys’ team, Ryan said his coaches were Sam Holder (tennis player Samuel Holder’s dad), Mark Fletcher (Nathan Fletcher’s dad) and Kenny Badgett.
After playing only basketball as a freshman, Erin added volleyball in the 1oth grade. Then for her senior year, she joined the track team to spend time with teammate Alex Cooke.
While Alex went on to win the state 2A gold medal, Erin learned enough about shot put to take second place in the Western Piedmont Conference.
Erin was an honorable mention for all-conference in volleyball and basketball as a junior.
As a senior, Erin was all-conference in all three sports and made the all-tournament team in volleyball and basketball.
Erin also made the honor roll every year and is a member of the National Technical Honor Society.
Ryan said he made the A/B honor roll as a freshman, but wasn’t as focused on his studies as he should have been.
With the two going to college together, Ryan said, “I can watch over her, and she can watch over me.”
“She’ll be watching over you, more than likely,” replied his dad Greg.
Greg said, “I pushed them as hard as I could, and I’m sure Coach Slate and the other coaches did their part, too. I’m really proud of them. I knew this day would get here, and it finally got here.”
“I’m proud of both of them,” said mom Stephanie. “Ryan playing three sports, I think he’s showed himself in all three. Erin, she’s good in her two sports — and track.”
“I think they’ll go farther in their sports and academics,” Stephanie said.
Because Ferrum is a Division III school, the sports programs don’t get athletic scholarships.
Greg and Stephanie said they know it will be costly, but this has been a dream of theirs for a long time, seeing their kids get a good education.
“Ryan and Erin, I know those kids are in school every day. Ryan was in practice every single day,” said Lyons. “I hope he has a four-year career.”
Going to practice was never a problem for Ryan, but being at the right one sometimes was.
“Before I go down for track, I lift with the football team for a little bit,” he said. Then when the time gets away from him, “I get a phone call from Erin or a text from Marcus (Sawyers) asking where I’m at.
“I make sure I stay in shape, always trying to get stronger. College is a whole new level when you’re playing football. The tackles get harder, the hits a lot tougher.”
Asked about his favorite football memory, Ryan points to the win over West Stokes, which has been the top 2A team in the area for the past few years.
Against West Stokes several players went down with injuries, said Lyons. The team needed players to step up, and Ryan did it on offense and defense.
Ryan has always had potential, and his college coaches will help draw that out of him and make him more consistent, Lyons said.
For Erin, head coach Shane Slate said he first saw her when Meadowview Middle played Gentry.
“Obviously she had the physical ability, the height, the length and she moved well. She had a good start from a skill set standpoint. We felt like she would be somebody who would develop into a quality player for us.”
Where did Erin improve the most as a player?
In her first season on varsity as a sophomore, Slate recalled, “She was primarily a post player that year. She spent most of her time in the paint. Her junior, she spent some time on the wing and in the paint. She became one of our spot-up shooters on the wing at times as well as playing inside.”
“This year, her game kept growing. She was able to do more on the perimeter. She got to the point where she could put the ball on the floor and attack the basket that way. She gave us a lot of versatility. That’s probably the thing that caught Ferrum’s eye as much as anything. She is a true stretch 4: a kid who can play with her back to the basket or she can step out and knock down the three.”
Erin was second in scoring and rebounding, blocked shots. she was second on the team in threes made behind freshman Jessy Nichols. She also was second in free throws earned and fourth in assists and steals.
“As she got more comfortable, her confidence got better,” said Slate. “And as her confidence got better, her game got better. I think you’ll see the same thing at the next level. The more time she spends on her game, the better she’s going to get.
“She’s got a good skill set. She’s got the physical ability. Being in a situation where she’s able to concentrate on basketball and her game and getting significantly better, you’ll see that growth in her.
“I was happy to see her get this opportunity because she’s not a spotlight kid. She doesn’t get as much press as some of our other athletes do.”