By Wil Crews
Opelika High School senior track & field athlete LeDamian Rowell is ready to start a new chapter in his athletic career after signing a track scholarship with William Carey University on Tuesday of last week.
“It felt more like it was a new start in my life,” Rowell said of the moment he inked his name to the scholarship. “It was like I just opened up a new chapter in my book. And I’m just ready to get to it … I’m amped for it.”
Rowell’s mom, Kimberly Patrick, said she will be sad to see her son go off to college, but is excited for his next steps in life.
“I’m extremely proud of him, he’s worked hard, he’s determined, he’s ambitious,” she said. “I’m excited for him. It’s going to be tough letting my baby go but he’s going to grow up and, like he said, this is a new chapter and I’m excited for him, he deserves it. This is just the beginning.”
Rowell and his teammates on the OHS track & field team won the 2020-21 indoor state title in February. Rowell was appreciative of the team comradery and competition that he thinks led to that crowning moment.
“My teammates are real competitors, I’m impressed with these group of guys,” Rowell said of his team’s accomplishment. “They are always competing against me no matter what I do. They are always aiming to be better than me and that makes me want to be better than them … We came together; we had guys doing things they haven’t ever done before. And afterwards, we celebrated.”
Of course, the team – and Rowell – wouldn’t be where they are today without head coach Jimmy Johnson.
“Coach Johnson always stayed on me,” Rowell said. “Whenever I felt like slacking off he always made me do more. Sometimes he picked at me and he would know I’m doing it right but say I’m doing it wrong just so I do it all over again.”
Johnson said Rowell is one of the best athletes he has ever coached and expects big things from him in college.
“LeDamian is probably one of the best all-around athletes I’ve ever had,” Johnson said. “There’s literally nothing he cannot do. To have him on track, it was struggle trying to find something to specialize him in because he was so good at everything. Jumping was like one of the things that was it. He’s so strong and flexible he can do pretty much everything. I’ll think he will do great there.”
William Carey University is one of the top liberal arts colleges in the nation, and a diverse group of athletes compete on their sports teams, something Rowell is looking forward to.
“From the school I’m going to, we have a lot of people from all over the world,” he said. “I’m excited about meeting all of them.”
Rowell’s strongest event is the triple jump, he said. And as far as the transition from high school to college sports goes, Rowell spoke bluntly about if he thinks he will fit in.
“Definitely,” he said.