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Better late than never

For any high school athlete, signing that national letter of intent to their respected college or university may be the best moment of their high school tenure. Usually that special moment comes somewhere during that athlete’s senior year, but in some cases it can come after that. Well, how about nearly a year after graduation? Newton’s 2014 forward Mercedes Booker finally got that moment as she will be taking her talents to Southern Crescent Technical College.

Booker was the emotional leader for the Lady Rams 2013-2014 basketball team as they finished as Region 2-AAAAAA champions going undefeated in region play. In the 21 games played in her senior season, Booker averaged 6.1 points per game, but her impact was felt on the defensive end and emotionally. During her senior campaign, Booker went through some personal issues off the court but still brought 110 percent every time she laced them up. Her coaches and mother commend Booker for the strong will and emotional spirit she has.

“She will probably have the biggest heart on the team,” Newton Coach Tiffani Johnson said. “She will definitely be an asset to the team.”

Though she signed nearly a year after graduating high school, Booker admitted that she did not want to attend college immediately after high school. She wanted to take a year off and then get back to it. During her time off, Booker constantly worked out to get in better shape and got in the gym whenever she could to improve her game. While working out, she met a recruiter that helped get her to the next level. After participating in multiple camps and receiving a few offers, Booker settled on Southern Crescent Technical College due to its close distance from home.

“If I tell myself I am going to do something then I am going to do it,” Mercedes Booker said. “I kept myself motivated.”

The accomplishment of signing means a lot not only to Booker but to her mother, Stephanie Booker. Mercedes is the sixth out of seven children, so it was important for her to bring success to the family name. Her mom was extremely proud of the academic growth Mercedes experienced during high school not just her basketball skills. Booker admitted that her daughter struggled a bit with her grades, but promised her A/B Honor Roll for junior and senior year. Mercedes lived up to that promise and now has a bright future ahead of her.

“She has come a long way as far as her basketball skills,” Stephanie Booker said. “ I am very proud of her.”