By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
SPRINGFIELD – Cooper Nease played three sports at Effingham County High School. His favorite, lacrosse, probably landed him the least fanfare among his classmates.
But for the 6-foot, 220-pound defenseman, lacrosse was the most fun and Nease will continue having fun playing lacrosse at the next level. He held a signing party May 11 to announce his commitment to the Savannah College of Arts and Design.
"My dad knew the (SCAD) coach and I emailed my film and he said we'd love to have you," said Nease about the casual recruiting process.
Nease, who played football and wrestled, became just the second Rebel to sign a lacrosse scholarship since the program joined the Georgia High School Association in 2020.
Former teammate Aaron Mordarski signed with Point University last May.
Another ECHS alum, Hunter Scott, is now playing at Webber International after honing his skills with the Rebels' club team.
Audrey Ubernosky became the first ECHS girls to earn a lacrosse scholarship when she signed with Shorter University in March.
"Lacrosse is growing in the area. Players now are taking the initiative to play in the summer and during the fall to get their names out there," Rebels boys coach Owen Nix said. "There are so many new programs being added at all levels. There are opportunities if the kids want to work for it."
Nease began playing recreation lacrosse in eighth grade and played on the high school varsity team for four years.
"Cooper didn't have a ton of experience. He started getting playing time as a sophomore and was a factor for us as a junior and senior," Nix said. "Over time, he's developed his stick skills."
And over time, Nease's love for the sport grew. He had an outstanding senior season as a defensive end for the ECHS football team. He led the team with eight quarterback hurries and tied for the team lead with five sacks.
But football success couldn't sway his love for lacrosse.
"The ball never stops. The clock never stops. I love the pace," Nease said. "Lacrosse is a lot of fun."
Nease said he plans to major in architecture at SCAD.
Former Mustang Alex Brown named second-team All-ACC
Former South Effingham softball standout Alex Brown, now a sophomore at the University of North Carolina, was named second-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference in a voting by league coaches, the conference announced on May 10.
Brown, a shortstop, finished the season on a 17-game hitting streak while leading the Tar Heels with a .399 batting average (sixth best in ACC). She added three doubles, a triple and four home runs with 20 runs batted in and 11 stolen bases.
UNC finished its season with a 26-28 record (13-10 in ACC play). The Tar Heels lost to Clemson 2-1 (in eight innings) in the conference tournament quarterfinals.