By Collin Brooks
Daniel Boone standout Sydney Pearce knows that there is life after basketball, even for a 6-foot-4 senior post player. That is why her guiding light to choosing a college wasn’t basketball, but her education.
“The biggest factor that made me choose Carson-Newman is that they have a great nursing program there,” Pearce said, “a lot of other schools said that it would be very difficult to juggle that and basketball. But Coach Mike Mincey and his staff said they would do everything they could to make sure I could do both.”
She said that she was humbled by all of her options, but her education was the most important thing to her.
“I loved all the schools that I have been offered from and recruited by, it’s just that in (Division I) you’re doing basketball 24/7 and I am thinking about my future after basketball. In four years, I don’t plan on continuing to play, so I was looking at the best thing for me for my future after college.”
Pearce held offers from Division I schools Western Kentucky and UAB, and was speaking with others like Wisconsin, Arkansas and the Air Force Academy as she prepared for her final season as a Lady Blazer. But ultimately, playing at the Division II level is something she is happy with, because she knows she can focus on life after basketball.
“Coach (Mike) Mincey and Coach (Tatum) Burstrom just made me feel more comfortable there,” Pearce said. “And I knew that I could contribute to the team, because he kept harping on how much he needed a post player and I just felt like they really wanted me to be there.”
Also, making her decision easier was the fact that she felt comfortable from the minute she stepped on campus.
“Whenever I went on the visit, I just had a feeling in my gut that it was the place for me,” Pearce said. “I liked everywhere that I visited, but that place, I just had a feeling that it was the right place for me.”
Just days after making up her mind, Pearce said she learned former Elizabethton standouts and ETSU transfers Kayla and Kelci Marosites were leaving the Bucs to head to Carson-Newman.
“I found out when everyone else did,” Pearce said through a smile. “They’re obviously great players and I really look forward to getting the opportunity to play with the twins, instead of against them.”
Pearce spent her summer playing for the premier AAU girls basketball team in the state, the Tennessee Flight Silver, in the Elite Youth Basketball League sponsored by Nike.
“I feel like that helped me realize where I am, compared to other D1 girls,” Pearce said. “I think that was another thing that helped me make my decision. I really enjoyed playing with those girls. They were great and it really helped me improve my game.”
Now though, with her college decision behind her, Pearce will be able to focus on the upcoming Lady Blazers season.
“Now I can just enjoy my senior season,” Pearce said. “People may say that if I waited, maybe I would get more offers, but I just feel like I knew this was the right decision, so why wait?”