Three Brownwood High School graduates will have one more game on the city’s biggest stage as they wrap up their high school athletic careers.
A week after tossing their hats for graduation, former Brownwood High School basketball players Jared Cullins, Sage Cupps and Taytum Sutton return to the Brownwood Coliseum Saturday and put their skills to the test one last time for the Big Country Fellowship of Christian Athletes All-Star Game.
“It’s surreal, but it should be fun,” Cullins said. “I’m just here to have fun, meet these new guys and hopefully get a win on Saturday. The (Abilene) Wylie kids are pretty good. They’re dunking and all that. We should be pretty good. I’m just going to do my part.”
Cullins finished the season an academic all-district selection and will pursue a degree in business at Angelo State University. He said he joined FCA to continue following the teachings of Jesus Christ and learn more about his work with fellow athletes. He added playing in the coliseum is a fitting end to his athletic career.
“It should be fun. It should be loud if a lot of people are there,” he said. “It’s a bigger court so it will get tiring really quick, but it will be a good time.”
Cupps and Sutton will also wrap up their high school careers Saturday, tipping off at 4 p.m. followed by the 6 p.m. tipoff of the boys game. Cupps finished the season as District 5-4A Offensive MVP and named Texas Girls Coaches Association All-State. While at Tarleton State University, Cupps plans to study business.
“It’s the last game. I’m excited to play again and play against all of the other players from around (the area),” Cupps said. “We’re going to be playing with the best people we’ve ever played against and play another team with some good athletes. It’s going to be a lot of fun. We have three groups of two that played with each other. That’s six players with really great chemistry.”
Sutton said chemistry will be a factor in Saturday’s game and will look to her teammate when she can. She plans to attend Austin Community College in the fall and study criminal justice. She finished the season second-team all-district and was also named team defensive MVP. She considers Saturday’s game a bittersweet moment, just the end of another chapter in her life.
“It’s exciting and also surreal and sad,”Sutton said. “I just have to move on in life. This is another chapter. It’s more the game in general. Once you start playing the game, it makes you fall in love with the way you feel. It clears your mind of a lot. I’m just excited about that.”
It’s not a ballgame without cheerleaders
Cullins, Cupps and Sutton are not the only athletes taking the stage in Brownwood Saturday. Early High School cheerleaders Faith Wade and Hallie Brinson will perform in the Brownwood FCA Big Country All-Star games, sharing cheerleading duties for the first time with Brownwood High School cheerleader Nicole Bowden. Wade will continue her cheerleading career after recently signing her letter of intent with the University of North Texas while Brinson and Bowden will cheer for what may be the final time.
“There is some joy in knowing you’re starting a new chapter in your life, and the adventures that await you, but it’s really sad because there are so many great memories and great moments in that uniform. It’s your passion and I’m ending that chapter,” said Bowden, who will attend Angelo State and said she may cheer in the future.
Similar to their basketball counterparts, they also had their first practice Thursday and got to see a familiar face – Early High School Cheerleading Coach Kristin Wade — who coached all three either in cheer or through classes at SEAL Gymnastics. Brinson, who will also attend the University of North Texas and compete on the powerlifting team, said it was entirely coincidental that she and teammate Wade will go to the same college and added it will be hard not being teammates next year.
“We did not plan to go to the same school. It was an accident,” Brinson said. “It’s going to be bittersweet. We’ve done this our whole lives and this is our last time.”