Monday, 18 November 2019 16:24

Tillman accomplishes 'personal goal' by signing letter of commitment with Pfeiffer XC

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Senior Devon Tillman (seated) is surrounded by his coaches and teammates during his signing day on Monday. Senior Devon Tillman (seated) is surrounded by his coaches and teammates during his signing day on Monday. Contributed photo.

ROCKINGHAM — When Devon Tillman signed his name on his commitment letter to Pfeiffer University on Monday, his signature stood for a lot more than continuing his cross country career.

A senior and four-year runner for Richmond Senior High School and head coach Reggie Miller, Tillman became the second student-athlete in as many weeks to formally ink his future academic and athletic careers. Last Wednesday, fellow senior Kayla Hawkins signed with Coker University softball.

As first reported by the Richmond Observer last month, Tillman received a merit scholarship (both academic and athletic) from Pfeiffer University to join the Falcons cross country program. While he’s been anticipating his signing day for the past couple of weeks, it’s the bigger picture he’s been focusing on.

With his future now officially set in Misenheimer, N.C., for the next four years, Tillman will become the first member of his family to attend college. And that’s the most meaningful accomplishment for the soon-to-be Falcon.

“It’s a really big deal for me and my family,” Tillman smiled. “It lets people know I’m trying to pave the way for my future. It’s really cool to be able to say I’m the first one in my family to go to college and this was a personal goal of mine. 

“I’m definitely proud of myself,” he added. “When I signed my name it was a huge relief because it answered a lot of questions I had coming into my senior year. At first I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, but now I do.”

During Monday’s celebration in Richmond's media center, Tillman was flanked by his parents Wayne and Kim Tillman, and brothers Ethan and Tim Tillman, as he signed his name. Also on hand to congratulate him were Miller, girls’ head coach Jessica Covington, and an abundance of teammates including Carson Jordan, Will Thompson, Josh Wallace, Joey Nicholson, Maylyn Wallace and Analee Wyand.

Being surrounded by so many people who have helped him along his journey to a college scholarship was another special aspect of the afternoon. 

“It felt really special seeing everyone there because I didn’t expect such a huge crowd,” Tillman explained. “But it made me feel really good knowing I have the support system I do. My teammates said they were proud of what I accomplished and I was glad to see them supporting my decision to go to Pfeiffer.

“The best part about today was being able to officially say I’m a Falcon now,” he added. “I’ve always dreamt of going to college and I’m glad to see it come true.”

Tillman has been a staple of the Raider cross country program since his freshman season, and first discovered his love for the sport while in eighth grade at Ellerbe Middle School. As a Wildcat, he helped the Ellerbe boys’ team win the inaugural Southeastern Middle School Athletic Conference championship.

Over the course of the past four seasons, Tillman has run hundreds of miles around Richmond’s campus and competed in dozens of Sandhills Athletic Conference meets and invitationals. 

He knew he always wanted to try and continue his career at the collegiate level, but it wasn’t until Pfeiffer’s coach Andrew Howard invited him to campus in October for an official visit that he saw his dreams come to fruition.

Tillman credited his teammates and his coach for helping him stick with a sport that often challenged him physically and mentally. It was that extra push during his time as a Raider that ultimately helped him get to the next level. 

Miller, who just wrapped up his 11th and final season coaching cross country, has coached Tillman all four years and has seen the senior develop into one of the program’s hardest working runners.

"He was all smiles today -- he’s got more friends than I do,” Miller laughed at the big turnout to support Tillman. “Devon is a great kid and he does everything right. He's one of the hardest working kids I've had. He had a great four years on the team and Pfeiffer couldn't have picked a better kid than Devon.

"His hard work has paved the way for him to continue running in college," he added. "He will represent the Richmond Raiders very well and I'm excited for him."

Tillman is looking forward to finishing his senior year at Richmond, but said he’s also excited to graduate in June and get ready to leave for Pfeiffer. He plans to keep working out in the offseason and wants to study sports management with the hopes of one day becoming a high school cross country coach.

“I want to thank Coach Miller for a great four years,” Tillman closed. “I also want to thank my family for always being my biggest support system and my former coaches who helped me get to where I am today.”

Last modified on Monday, 18 November 2019 17:07

Kyle Pillar

Three-time award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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