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Firebirds’ White to run, jump at Mount Olive

Posted on May 20, 2022

School SportsSports
Southern Nash High senior Zyshone White, front center, was surrounded by family members as he signed a National Letter of Intent to join the track and field program at University of Mount Olive during a ceremony at Southern Nash last week. Joining White were, front from left, his mother, Trudy White and younger brother, L.J. White. Back row: Southern Nash athletic director Robbie Kennedy, father and Firebirds assistant coach Lovelle White, Southern Nash principal Hugh Scott and Firebirds head coach Sterling Leonard.

Contributed photo

Southern Nash High senior Zyshone White, front center, was surrounded by family members as he signed a National Letter of Intent to join the track and field program at University of Mount Olive during a ceremony at Southern Nash last week. Joining White were, front from left, his mother, Trudy White and younger brother, L.J. White. Back row: Southern Nash athletic director Robbie Kennedy, father and Firebirds assistant coach Lovelle White, Southern Nash principal Hugh Scott and Firebirds head coach Sterling Leonard.

Southern Nash’s Zyshone White soars on his long jump at the Scott Jones Memorial Classic on April 11 at Wilson Prep. White will jump and sprint at Mount Olive after signing with the NCAA Division II program last week.

Sheldon Vick | Special to the Times

Southern Nash’s Zyshone White soars on his long jump at the Scott Jones Memorial Classic on April 11 at Wilson Prep. White will jump and sprint at Mount Olive after signing with the NCAA Division II program last week.

Southern Nash High senior Zyshone White, front center, was surrounded by family members as he signed a National Letter of Intent to join the track and field program at University of Mount Olive during a ceremony at Southern Nash last week. Joining White were, front from left, his mother, Trudy White and younger brother, L.J. White. Back row: Southern Nash athletic director Robbie Kennedy, father and Firebirds assistant coach Lovelle White, Southern Nash principal Hugh Scott and Firebirds head coach Sterling Leonard.

Contributed photo

Southern Nash High senior Zyshone White, front center, was surrounded by family members as he signed a National Letter of Intent to join the track and field program at University of Mount Olive during a ceremony at Southern Nash last week. Joining White were, front from left, his mother, Trudy White and younger brother, L.J. White. Back row: Southern Nash athletic director Robbie Kennedy, father and Firebirds assistant coach Lovelle White, Southern Nash principal Hugh Scott and Firebirds head coach Sterling Leonard.

Southern Nash’s Zyshone White soars on his long jump at the Scott Jones Memorial Classic on April 11 at Wilson Prep. White will jump and sprint at Mount Olive after signing with the NCAA Division II program last week.

Sheldon Vick | Special to the Times

Southern Nash’s Zyshone White soars on his long jump at the Scott Jones Memorial Classic on April 11 at Wilson Prep. White will jump and sprint at Mount Olive after signing with the NCAA Division II program last week.

Southern Nash’s Zyshone White soars on his long jump at the Scott Jones Memorial Classic on April 11 at Wilson Prep. White will jump and sprint at Mount Olive after signing with the NCAA Division II program last week.
Southern Nash High senior Zyshone White, front center, was surrounded by family members as he signed a National Letter of Intent to join the track and field program at University of Mount Olive during a ceremony at Southern Nash last week. Joining White were, front from left, his mother, Trudy White and younger brother, L.J. White. Back row: Southern Nash athletic director Robbie Kennedy, father and Firebirds assistant coach Lovelle White, Southern Nash principal Hugh Scott and Firebirds head coach Sterling Leonard.

paul@wilsontimes.com | 265-7808

For three years, Zyshone White managed to tack onto his busy schedule a few appearances with the Southern Nash High track and field team, but the sport was not at the top of his priorities.

But White put more of a focus on track this spring and, with the potential he has flashed at times, the result was a chance to run track collegiately. That came to fruition earlier this month when White put his name on a National Letter of Intent to accept a scholarship offer from University of Mount Olive, the dominant track and field program in NCAA Division II Conference Carolinas. For White, it was an easy decision once he realized that track, not football or basketball or baseball, was his ticket.

“Being able to do one thing for the rest of my life — track — and for the first time focusing on one sport,” White said.

The son of Trudy and Lovelle White of Castalia, White said he also had an opportunity to walk-on the program at Campbell University, a Div. I school, but he was committed to Mount Olive after taking a visit for a home meet.

“I liked the atmosphere when I went to their track meet. It was family-oriented and very calm,” said White, who plans to major in kinesiology.

On the track, White has run the 100-meter dash and the 4x100 relay as well as the long jump and triple jump. He said he will probably do the same events with the Trojans, who just won their eighth straight Conference Carolinas championship.

Firebirds head coach Sterling Leonard said that it’s difficult to gauge White’s ceiling since he’s only run track full-time this spring after giving up baseball.

“Zyshone was like the guy who got it done in everything even down to his football,” Leonard said “He was a quarterback, corner, running back. He’s done so much. With him doing three sports the way he’s done, he’s never really settled on one sport enough to really ...”

Leonard interrupted himself to tell a story about White, coming to a conference meet last spring on the day he didn’t have baseball and running stride-for-stride with some of the best sprinters in the conference. From there, Leonard said he knew White would be special if he made track his focus.

“So when he actually said, ‘Look, I’m going to try this, you know, he ran 11 flat and started trying to get into that 10 atmosphere,” Leonard said. “He kind of was intrigued on, seeing what he could do and next thing I know we threw him in triple jump. He was all-conference in that and he just took off.”

White said that he will need to maintain his speed during races as he’s had a tendency to not finish as strong as he would like at times. But his potential as a sprinter and jumper attracted a program with the track record of Mount Olive.

“That’s what’s dangerous about Zyshone,” Leonard said. “Zyshone ain’t even scratched the surface.”

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