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Twin dose of talent heads sign to play for Trojans

Twins Jameshia and Jamilia Smith, standout athletes and students their entire high school careers, are taking their talents to Virginia State University. The Smith twins played softball, basketball and volleyball while at Halifax County High School, and they capped their high school softball careers this spring with an appearance in the quarterfinals of the state tournament.

Jamilia Smith was part of two unbeaten regular season teams her senior year, in basketball and softball, and she will focus on softball in college.

“I may try out for basketball as a walk-on,” said Jamilia Smith.  “I’m still thinking about it, but I may try and play both sports my freshman year.”

Smith plans on majoring in physical therapy and Virginia State has such a program, she added.

“We went up for a visit and I met half the softball team,” she said.

“I think I can handle playing both sports along with the academics, but if I have to, I’ll give up basketball.

Jameshia Smith will play softball as well, and she will try to walk on in volleyball.

“I’ll give it time before I decide what to do my freshman year,” the elder twin said.

“They have a good teacher education program, and I want to be a special education teacher.”

“I might do a minor in physical education,” she pointed out.

“I’m very excited, [Virginia State] is not to big or too small, it’s just right, and it’s a good fit.”

His daughters were fortunate in having scholarships and other financial aid to attend Virginia State, but one caveat is they have to maintain their grades, according to James Smith, who coached his daughters in basketball and softball in middle school.

Virginia-Wise, N.C. A&T, Ferrum, Lynchburg, Roanoke, Virginia Wesleyan, Christopher Newport, Winston-Salem State and North Carolina Central all showed interest, according to Smith, but Jamilia and Jameshia felt more comfortable going to a mid-sized campus.

“We wanted to go small, and they didn’t want to be on a big campus, and they aren’t far away from home, so we can still come and watch them play,” said Smith.

“The first thing that attracted us was the academics,” he continued.

“Both want to be teachers, Jameshia wants to be a special eduction teacher, and Jamilia wants to be a physical education teacher.

“The athletic department has nice facilities, it’s an up and coming (athletics) program, and we can even get to some of their away games.

“Some are close enough by that we don’t have to drive far.

“One of the main things is Virginia State showed more interest in them than any other school, and early on that attracts your interest.”

A lot of parents and coaches helped his daughters along the way, and James Smith noted his daughters wouldn’t be in a position to play collegiate sports without their help.

“Dixie Softball helped us a lot, and in high school Melanie Saunders and her staff helped them get to where they are now,” said Smith.

“Travel ball helped a lot, and Mike Ford as coach of the Riptides team for four years taught them a lot about the game, especially hitting.  I really appreciate Mike and his wife and what they did.

“Without their work, they won’t be where they are now.  They’re excited and I’m excited about the opportunity they have, and I’m convinced hard work and a little ability can accomplish a lot.”

It’s a big day for the girl’s sports programs at Halifax County High School as a whole, according to Comets’ varsity head softball coach Melanie Saunders.

“It says a lot about the programs we have here, these two girls have been in multiple sports and they don’t concentrate on one,” she said.

“As a whole, that makes you more well-rounded.  Some schools want their kids to settle down and play one sport, but here we like for them to play more than one sport.

“It gives them more opportunities when they go to college.”

Saunders also noted Jameshia’s and Jamilia’s work ethic and leadership in and out of the classroom.

“That’s our expectation to begin with,” she said.  “You can be a great athlete, but if you don’t do what you’re supposed to do in the classroom, you won’t see playing time on the field.

“We definitely will miss them.  They provided leadership with the attitude, laughter and fun they bring out there.”