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JORDAN Burton spent countless afternoons as a child heaving basketballs toward a rusted goal near the cornfield behind his grandfather’s house and fantasized about playing in college.
But despite sprouting quickly to his 6-foot-8 height, Burton always figured that dream was a long shot for any athlete from Edinburgh Community High School.
“I didn’t really know anybody that ever went on to play any (college) sports from Edinburgh,” Burton said. “Coming from a small school that never really had much success before, it’s definitely rough getting colleges’ attention.”
Edinburgh, a Class A school with 280 students, isn’t a recruiting stop for many college coaches, but that could soon change. Over the past four years, the Lancers athletics program experienced unprecedented success by claiming 10 sectional titles and two regional crowns in various sports.
And now eight spring graduates, including Burton, plan to continue their playing careers in college this coming school year.
“With eight of us going on to play at college somewhere, that’s huge,” Burton said. “We feel like we’ve set the groundwork for more colleges to recruit from Edinburgh because of our class.”
Burton will play basketball at IU-South Bend, an NAIA school. Lancers all-time leading scorer Kyle Wuest will shoot hoops for Elmhurst College (NCAA Division III) near Chicago. Corey Burton and Patrick Kennedy each will play basketball at Ancilla College (NJCAA) in northwestern Indiana. Corey Burton also will play golf.
Softball player Nisha Brown will pitch for IU-Southeast (NAIA) in New Albany, and teammate Taylor Murray will hit the diamond at Taylor University (NAIA) in Upland. Emily Roberts (tennis) and Ashley Myers (track) will stay close to home and compete for Franklin College (NCAA Division III).
Edinburgh athletics director Tim Jordan said he was most impressed that those students represent nearly 12 percent of their graduating class and added that type of success doesn’t come by accident.
“I’m pretty happy with it,” said Jordan, who’s entering his sixth year at Edinburgh. “For a school our size to have that many in a single class go on, it obviously speaks highly of that class.
“But we’ve got several things well-balanced. We’ve got good academics; we’ve got some decent kids and some decent athletics programs. I’m just tickled by it.”
Jordan said consistency on the coaching level over the past five years was the main catalyst for so many Lancers athletes to excel.
“There was a lot of turnover (previously),” he said. “A lot of coaches would come in for a year or two and leave. Many kids wouldn’t try because they figured there would probably be a different coach the next year.”
During his time so far at Edinburgh, Jordan said he’s replaced only a couple of coaches. With the longevity of the Lancers’ coaching staffs, student athletes now are more invested in their sports.
“I feel like we’ve got a lot of good coaches; we’ve had consistency in our leadership,” he said. “And with that consistency in those coaching positions, those kids have been able to buy into a program their entire career.”
Softball coach Vance Murray said Edinburgh’s recent overall success stems from a cultural change that inspires all teams.
“I think the basketball team helped the softball team, and the softball team helped the volleyball team, and so on,” he said. “When the expectations are there, it affects the whole athletics program, I think.
“Expectations have been raised. People expect to do well and expect to come in to compete. It isn’t your typical old Edinburgh.”
Taylor Murray said several of the athletes moving on do so because of full-time commitments to their individual sports. Participation in summer leagues and AAU teams allows students from small schools to further develop their skills and gain more exposure to college recruiters.
“We had a lot of people who were dedicated to one sport, and their ultimate goal was to get the payoff and be able to play in college,” she said. “It was a different mentality than in previous years.”
Jordan said the class of 2012 has set a tone for the future. Many college programs are more aware of the quality of athletes that Edinburgh can produce. But it’s up to each individual to put in the needed effort.
“The last four years, these kids have learned to work,” he said. “And now the trick is to keep that expectation.
“The kids that are now seniors and juniors and sophomores and freshman have got to pick up the slack and continue to work hard as well.”
The next step
2012 Edinburgh Community High School graduates who plan to play sports in college
Kyle Wuest, Elmhurst, basketball
Patrick Kennedy, Ancilla, basketball
Corey Burton, Ancilla, basketball and golf
Jordan Burton, IU-South Bend, basketball
Emily Roberts, Franklin, tennis
Ashley Myers, Franklin, track and field
Nisha Brown, IU-Southeast, softball
Taylor Murray, Taylor, softball
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