North Stokes senior Ross Lucia has been busy over the last four years. In the fall, he suited up for football as an all-conference offensive lineman, in the winter he grappled on the mat for pins, and this spring he’s secured his spot as second in the state for the 1A classification in discus and shot put.
His grit and determination caught the attention of Gardner-Webb’s track and field program where he’ll continue competing at the collegiate level.
Vikings coach, Mike Williams said the opportunity is well deserved.
“I’ve coached him for four years and he was an outstanding young man coming into the program and still is. He has a lot of strength and an excellent work ethic. He made extreme leaps and bounds from his freshman to sophomore year. He’s been a solid performer for us especially the last two years,” Williams said.
While many have witnessed his athletic accomplishments during his time at North, they aren’t privy to the work he puts in behind the scenes.
“A lot of times he and Brandon (Boyles) are the last ones to leave. If I need him for anything he’s there. He just knows what has to be done and is a really good track role model for the other kids,” Williams said.
The coach is often asked from other schools how Lucia has gotten to this level.
“He’s thrown it several thousand times. That’s a lot of repetition and a lot of hard work,” he said. “He’s in a class with Shepard Ottaway and Justin Kenard, Austin Edmonds, Joey Dillard, kids who had a lot of success. He stuck with it and worked towards a goal. Now, he’s passing that on to others.”
The coach believes Lucia’s work as a multi-sport athlete will help propel him to compete in college.
“We try to share as much as we can here because we’re a small school. He definitely added to the football and wrestling program,” Williams said. “I think his college choice is a good one. It’ll be a challenge but if hard work is a requirement, he’ll excel.”
Lucia said playing sports throughout the school year helped him develop on and off the field.
“I learned to persevere and figure out what it took to be successful. It taught me some life lessons I wouldn’t have learned otherwise. I think it’s one of the things that the coach at Gardner-Webb liked. He knew I could grind out anything he needed me to do.”
Although Lucia enjoyed wrestling and football, throwing shot and discus was something he wanted to continue doing.
“I love just watching it go far. I enjoy throwing and waiting to see where it lands. It’s a lot like wrestling because you’re the only one that can get in the way. It’s up to me to be the best I can.”
Over the past four years, Lucia said he’s tried to stay focused on academics as well as athletics.
“I’ve been taught well at home and know what’s expected of me. Being raised well helped me a lot,” he said.
While he’s ready to graduate Lucia said he’ll always remember what he’s learned from coaches who’ve been instrumental in his life over the past four years.
“Coach Williams means a lot to me and I’ll always appreciate him. Nick Brandes taught me hands-on how to wrestle; he just knows how to coach. In football, David Anderson knows how to get your attention and motivate you. If he wants you to do it, you’re going to do it and if you don’t know how, you’re going to try 100 percent.”
As part of Gardner-Webb’s track and field program Lucia is set to work with coach Robert Golabek, who earned NCAA Division I All-American honors four times in the shot put and went on to compete in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.
“I love the dedication his athletes have. He also really knows his stuff.”
While in college Lucia plans to major in business with a minor in entrepreneurship and would like to eventually go to culinary school.
“I’ve been in the kitchen ever since I can remember. My grandfather really inspired me to cook. My cousin won the Taste of Seattle three years in a row. I’d love to open a restaurant one day but that’s light years ahead of me,” he said.
As high school winds down for the senior he admits his time at North Stokes went by fast.
“I still remember strapping on football pads for the first time as a freshman in summer practice. I have some great memories here.”
Amanda Dodson can be reached at 336-813-2426 or on Twitter at AmandaTDodson.