Nash, Priest, Scruggs, Warwick, and Whatley to compete at the Division I collegiate level.
We are proud to announce five student-athletes have participated in National Signing Day. In a schoolwide assembly today, seniors Katie Nash, Meg Priest, Emma Scruggs, Liz Warwick, and Ariana Whatley signed National Letters of Intent for NCAA Division I schools in front of their supporters—coaches, classmates, teachers, and family.
In the U.S., nearly eight million students participate in high school athletics. Of that group, only about six percent go on to compete at NCAA schools. Last year 13 percent of the GPS Class of 2019 went on to play their sports in colleges and universities across the country. Today student-athletes from the Class of 2020 joined their sisters’ legacy of athletic excellence.
“As fans, what most of us see is just a tiny sample of the time they have committed to themselves and their sports,” says Jay Watts, GPS Director of Athletics. “To perform at their level requires early mornings on the river, late nights on the fields, grueling laps in the pool, and additional time spent in strength and conditioning. While today is a celebration of certainly remarkable individual accomplishments for these five student-athletes, we also acknowledge the high achievement of their coaches, who have assisted them in their journeys with long hours and personal sacrifice. It’s an accomplishment for their parents who have driven them to practices and bolstered their experiences with training outside their school seasons.”
Watts went on to recognize the girls’ teammates for pushing the players onto amazing records and stats as well as their teachers, advisors, and classmates who cheer from the stands, push for academic excellence, uphold standards of good character, and lift each other up through the bonds of sisterhood.
Katie Nash | Rowing | Duke University
Katie Nash started rowing in eighth grade at Chattanooga Junior Rowing at quickly found success in the sport. Following her freshman year, she rowed with Three Rivers Rowing Association, where she raced at club nationals. The next summer, she was invited to USRowing Development Camp and qualified as an alternate, racing a double.
She enrolled at GPS her junior year and joined the Bruisers rowing team, racing with the Varsity 8+ at the Head of the Charles and Scholastic Nationals. Along with teammate Larkin Brown ’19, Katie rowed Varsity 2, placing eighth in the highest possible level in the United States. This past summer, Katie was invited to participate in selection for the U19 National Team at the USRowing Selection Camp. She raced with the U18 High-Performance Team and competed in multiple boat classes in their top boats.
“Katie has been a valuable member of our team since she joined her junior year,” says David Hall, GPS Varsity Rowing Coach. “From Head of the Charles to the SRAA National Championship, she has been a boat mover for GPS Rowing. Her speed, leadership, and personality will be missed in the future. We look forward to working with her for the remainder of her time here and know she will be an immediate asset to the Blue Devils next year.”
Katie has earned the honor of Fastest Oarswoman (2018) and Golden Hammer Club (2019). Outside of rowing, she is a member of SWENext (the Society of Women Engineers, Next Generation) and serves on the Tech Crew at GPS.
“Kathryn is a combination of positive energy and athletic talent,” says Chase Graham, Duke University Associate Head Women's Rowing Coach. “She is smart, persistent, and passionate about rowing, which is what we look for in a Blue Devil Rower. We are confident she will help lead Duke Women’s Rowing to continued success.”
Meg Priest | Soccer | Samford University
Meg Priest has played varsity soccer at GPS since her eighth-grade year and was a member of the Bruisers 2018 Division II-AA TSSAA State Championship team. She’s a two-time defense MVP for the Bruisers and was named All-Region and All-State (as voted by coaches) and All-State Nashville Sportswriters in addition to being a two-time defensive MVP for GPS. She served as a team captain her senior year. At GPS she also played varsity basketball where she was a member of a state quarterfinalist team her sophomore year. As a Chattanooga Futbol Club player, Meg was a member of the 2018 Club Soccer State Championship team.
“Samford University is getting a special player in Meg,” says Patrick Winecoff, GPS Head Soccer Coach. “She is a fierce competitor who can always be counted on to give her best effort. Meg has been on the varsity team for five years, four as a starter. She has started as a forward, defender, and center midfielder, and has always worked hard, which has been reflected in the team’s five-year record of 60-16-8 and this year’s 17-3 record. Although we will miss her, we are excited to see what is in store for her next year.”
As a student, Meg is a National Merit Commended Scholar, National Honor Society Officer, and Beta Club Vice President and has won several GPS awards for academic and athletic excellence.
“I cannot say how excited I am that Meg is joining the Samford Soccer family,” says Josie Rix, Samford Women’s Soccer Assistant Coach. “As a GPS alum, I find it pretty special to experience another GPS student-athlete join our program at the next level. I remember helping coach the GPS middle school team and watching Meg dominate girls twice her size, never allowing the ball to get near the box. Her strength on the ball, high work rate, and leadership of those around her are only a few of the impactful characteristics that she will bring to this program. Congratulations, Meg and the Priest family. Welcome to the Bulldog Soccer family, Meg, and Go Bruisers!”
Emma Scruggs | Swim | Georgia Southern University
Emma Scruggs is an eight-time Tennessee Top Eight Finalist, including a state fifth place in the 100 Back, seventh in the 200 IM, and third in the Medley Relay. She is a two-time all-state honoree (2017, 2018) and an NCSA Junior National Qualifier for the past four years. Emma has been named MVP of her GPS swim team for four consecutive years and serves as team captain for the Bruisers this season.
“Emma has been with our club program for 10 years, and it has been a privilege to be her coach for the last decade,” says Roger Dahlke, GPS Head Swimming Coach. “She has shown persistence, dedication, consistency, and a great deal of hard work over the years. I am confident she will be a great addition to the Georgia Southern University swimming program.”
A Beta Club and Student Council member, Emma also served on the Bruisers Leadership Committee and is a member of FCA and Health Club. She also ran cross country for two seasons.
“I am excited to have Emma joining our program next year,” says Amanda Caldwell, Georgia Southern University Head Women’s Swimming & Diving Coach. “Emma will step in and have an immediate impact in the pool for us in her backstroke events. Additionally I have enjoyed getting to know her as a person from our phone conversations and her time on campus. We know she is a good fit for the culture we are building here at Georgia Southern and cannot wait for her to get started here in August.”
Elizabeth Warwick | Softball | Southern Illinois University
Elizabeth Warwick has been a standout member of the GPS powerhouse softball program that has reached the state finals every year she has played, starting as an eighth-grade varsity player. She was also a member of the region championship team in 2017. During her softball career at GPS, she has been named three times to the Chattanooga Times Free Press Best of Preps and twice was voted as All-Region. In addition to her impressive high school stats of batting .511, hitting 78 RBIs, and blasting five home runs, Elizabeth has not once been thrown out stealing a base in all 87 attempts. She is a member of FCA.
“Liz has been roaming the outfield for GPS softball since sixth grade,” says Susan Crownover, GPS Head Varsity Softball Coach. “She can track a softball and go get it as well as any player I have ever coached. She has great instincts and an accurate arm as well. At the plate, Liz can drive it in the gaps, hit for average, and use her speed to beat out a bunt. I know Southern Illinois has to be excited to gain such an exceptional athlete.”
“Elizabeth has a sweet swing from the left side of the plate,” says Kerri Blaylock, Southern Illinois University Head Softball Coach. “She is a fearless outfielder who will sacrifice her body to make a catch and embodies the type of player we love at SIU. She is hardworking, selfless and a great teammate who goes about her business and works hard. She also values her academics, which is so important to us. We are so excited to have Elizabeth join us.”
Ariana Whatley | Softball | Howard University
Another key contributor to the GPS softball program for the past five years, Ariana Whatley has also played in the state final game since eighth grade and won the region championship in 2017. She was named to the Brentwood Invitational All-Tournament Team in 2017 and twice named to the TSSAA Middle/East All-Region Team (2018, 2019). Ariana was part of the 2019 USA Softball Nationals and recognized with GPS’s Laura Holt Outstanding Athlete Award last spring.
“Ari has been a force in our lineup since sixth grade,” says Susan Crownover, GPS Head Softball Coach. “She has always been a power hitter, able to hit a ball out to all fields and has been an RBI leader each year. Her ability to welcome new, young players to our program has been a great asset each season. I know she will be a great leader and teammate at Howard University just as she has been at GPS.”
Ariana has been a GPS Ambassador for the past four years and is the club’s current president. She is also a member of Beta Club, National Spanish Honor Society, and Bruiser Leadership Committee and the co-president of the GPS Girl Scout Troop.
“I am thrilled to have Ariana sign to our 2020 class,” says Tori Tyson, Howard University Head Softball Coach. “Beyond her athleticism, she is the epitome of the excellence it means to be a Bison. I am so excited she is officially apart of the family!”