Central’s Bright signs letter of intent to play football at Glenville State

Falcons' Stead, Strother also make college destinations official

Kristina Stead

WOODSTOCK – Central High School senior Varsey Bright gave his verbal pledge to play football at Glenville State College on March 26. On Monday afternoon, the three-sport standout officially became a Pioneer.

Bright signed his national letter of intent to play football at the NCAA Division II school for the 2018-19 school year during a ceremony in Central’s library. Kristina Stead (softball, Shenandoah University) and Ayanna Strother (women’s basketball, Bluefield College) joined their classmate in making their college destinations official on Monday.

“It means a lot. Not everyone gets the chance to go play college football,” said Bright, who will attend Glenville State on a partial athletic scholarship. “I’m grateful for my coaches and all that pushed me through this season. This season flew by fast. We had a great season, came up short, but I still got the opportunity to get exposure. … I’m just grateful to play at the next level.”

Bright is coming off a stellar senior season in which the defensive back/receiver set a new school record for interceptions in a season (12) to go along with 27 tackles. He also caught 21 passes for 470 yards – an average of 22.4 yards per reception – and five touchdowns and rushed 11 times for 172 yards and four scores.

Bright was the Northern Virginia Daily’s 2017 Football Defensive Player of the Year.

Ayanna Strother

The senior said he was first contacted by the Glenville State coaching staff – led by head coach Eric Smith – in January, and he’s since taken a visit to the campus in Glenville, West Virginia.

Bright said on April 3 that he did not know which position he’d play for the Pioneers and echoed that statement on Monday, saying that Smith told him he’d be placed on the field “where I can make plays.”

“I basically gotta kick it up a notch,” Bright said. “I know that college is the next level, so everything’s faster. Everybody’s the same talent, there’s people that are more talented than you are. … If you go to college it means you’re good at something, so I just gotta basically get bigger, stronger, faster.”

He added that the Glenville State coaching staff is putting him on a weight program to prepare for the upcoming season.

“Getting bigger, gaining more weight, keeping my same speed, more footwork, hands active and all the little things,” Bright, who was listed at 5-foot-9 and 145 pounds last fall, said of the next step before he begins college later this year.

Varsey Bright

Stead, a four-year starter for Central’s softball team, will be staying a little closer to home when she begins college in the fall at Shenandoah.

Stead said on Monday she wanted to find the proper fit academically first, and cited SU’s medical/biology programs as one of the primary reasons she was drawn to the Division III school located just up I-81 in Winchester.

“Shenandoah’s kind of been at the top of my list for a really long time,” said Stead, who emerged as one of the Falcons’ most productive hitters during the team’s run to the VHSL Group 2A state title game in 2016 and took over as Central’s starting pitcher last season. “I just talked to the coach (Marlena Kotynski) and the players and I just seemed to kind of fit in there.

“I definitely wanted to stay close to home. I didn’t want to got too far because I’ve kind of lived here my whole life. … Shenandoah was just for me.”

Strother, the Daily’s 2017-18 Girls Basketball Player of the Year, will continue her playing career at Bluefield College, a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) member located on the Virginia-West Virginia border in southwest Virginia.

Strother averaged 13.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 2.6 steals last season. Bluefield women’s basketball coach Corey Mullins attended Monday’s signing ceremony.

“I’ve been working toward this for a really long time now. I started playing in fifth grade, and I didn’t really know that I wanted to play in college but it’s a great experience and I’m really hoping to get out of it what I got out of it in high school,” Strother said, citing the teamwork and friendships she made while playing basketball at Central.