Persistence pays off! Zion Reddick signs with Milligan University

Published 12:16 pm Saturday, May 11, 2024

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By Ron Marvel

Star Correspondent

Hard work is the word you hear when every student-athlete signs his National Letter of Intent; it is often used when you can’t find a better adjective to describe the time an athlete spends fulfilling their ultimate goal of getting signed. Though it may be overused, there may not be a better word to explain the work Zion Reddick has put in; it even offers more clarity when you consider the relatively short time that Zion has been throwing in track events.

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Wednesday, in front of friends and families, Riddick made his choice known as he signed to continue his academic and athletic career at Milligan University. Head Cyclones Track Coach Jim Presnell kicked off ceremonies by acknowledging the athlete and student Reddick is. “It’s his work ethic, he loves throwing, throwing in the rain and the cold. Lifting weights and all the little things that go into being a top-level thrower. He is determined on the field and in the classroom to do the little things you have to do to be successful,” Presnell shared.

Then, with his parents, Chris Reddick and Natosha Wilson, by his side, Zion put pen to paper to make it official. Both of his parents, two former Cyclones standout athletes themselves, spoke about the joy they have experienced watching Zion grow up and seeing the man he is growing into. Zion himself then spoke: “First, I want to give thanks to my Lord and Savior! I am beyond blessed by this opportunity to attend Milligan University. I also want to thank my family, friends, and community for all the support, and to my outstanding coaches and the staff at EHS I want to say thank you for investing your time in me and putting me in the best opportunity to succeed!” Zion shared.

With Zion’s high GPA of 3.7, his work ethic, and his character, Milligan University assistant track coach Sebastian O’Neal quickly shared why bringing Zion Reddick into the program was a huge pickup. “He loves to compete and throw, he has a strong family life and him being from Elizabethton and local helps us fulfill that vision of being an East Tennessee institution. Our recruiting class this year is going to be one of the best in the state of Tennessee and Zion is a big part of that,” coach O’Neal shared. Milligan’s Track Team has the desire to compete for an NAIA National Championship and that desire no doubt played a part in Zion’s decision as well.

In truth, Zion has only been competing in the shot-put for two years but his growth as a thrower has been nothing short of amazing. In the shot put, the 50-foot mark is the standard. It places a thrower in top status and opens doors for them on the collegiate level. Zion has surpassed that mark and stands as one of the top 5 or 6 in EHS history. Current assistant EHS track coach and former track standout Derek Nave has been genuinely impressed by Zion’s rapid growth. “His maturity and his ability to communicate and just his desire to work, he has that hunger. In my opinion, his best track is in front of him. Shot put will be his wheelhouse but he can exceed in the discus, hammer throw, weight throw, or even the javelin. He has that kind of athletic ability and speed,” Nave shared.

Zion has several accolades including All-Conference and All-County recognition in his short time competing and though he has hit the 50-foot mark his coaches think he is capable of hitting 52 or 53 feet and they hope that he shows that at the upcoming sectional meet and qualifies for the TSSAA State Meet. One additional example of Zion’s work ethic could be seen as he decided to work at indoor meets this year and that choice paid off as he was All-State at the Tennessee Indoor Meet at the University of Knoxville; where he will return for the TSSAA Sectionals. During that competition, he also placed in the top 10 competing against all schools both public and private.

Coach Nave even shared how they sometimes have to pull him back. “During practice sometimes we have to walk over and just say, ‘Okay, Zion, that’s it, you have reached your maximum throws for practice today,’ but he always trying to pick it back up,” Nave shared. Zion also played football and basketball, but his aspirations to compete against himself and be the best he could be pulled him to the shot-put. For coaches, you always want that student-athlete that you don’t have to motivate, that student that you don’t have to hand-hold or worry about whether or not they’re doing the right thing on or off the field. Zion Reddick represents that and much more, Milligan University has become very good at finding local athletes with high ceilings; you can add Zion Reddick’s name to that list now.