Basketball (Boys Varsity) Football (Boys Varsity)

Bluebirds in College

By Wes Caldwell | May. 13, 2022 10:07 AM

By: Owen Yelton Highlands High School has had many students graduate and move on to accomplish great things, such as starting a successful business or earning a prestigious job such as a doctor or lawyer. But one thing that Highlands has really excelled at is producing college-level talent in sports. Over the last 10 years, around 20 students at Highlands have gone on to play their respective sport in college, including four people that we decided to highlight: Justin Gabbard (golf), Sam Vinson (basketball), Michael Dunn (football), and Chloe Jansen (basketball). Sam Vinson: The Northern Kentucky University basketball team finished the season with a 20-12 record and were just one win away from making the NCAA tournament, but unfortunately fell to Wright State 72-71 in their conference championship game. Although the outcome wasn’t what the team had hoped for, there was a bright spot to take away from this season. A very bright spot, in fact, and that was freshman Sam Vinson, who averaged around 11 points a game and shot 35% from beyond the arc. Although describing the jump from High school to college as “huge” Vinson seemed to belong on the court from the first game in his freshman year, consistently being in the starting lineup, and showing a lot of potential for his next three years. Vinson says that the “grind” at Highlands helped him get to where he is today, both on and off the court. “Just the grind. The hard work that the program puts you through on the court and off in the weight room.” Overall, Sam had a great first year and college, and was even able to take home some hardware when it was all said and done, winning Horizon League freshman of the year, and showing an enormous amount of potential for the next few years. Michael Dunn: Playing in over thirty games in his career at Butler, Michael Dunn has certainly seen success on the field. Dunn played in all eleven games for the Butler Bulldogs football team this past year, and ended the season with 10 tackles, 5 assisted and 5 solo, and a recovered fumble. At Butler, he got to travel with teammates, face top-ranked teams, and even got to play on the same field as Trey Lance, who is a starting NFL quarterback. “I had great experiences traveling the country with my teammates, getting to play games in Minneapolis, MN at Target Field (where the Twins play) against Trey Lance and the #1 ranked team in the nation North Dakota State.” But that doesn’t do justice to what he’s done off the field too. Dunn received multiple prestigious awards involving academics during his time at Butler, and has been a prime example of getting it done both on and off the field. “I received second team Academic All-Conference in 2019 and 2020 and inducted into the 2022 National Football Foundation Hampshire Honor Society.” He is on path to graduate college on May 7th, this year, after taking double majoring in Fincance and Risk Management. “I graduate from college next week on May 7th, 2022, and I am currently deciding between several different full-time job offers on where to best jumpstart my career.” We wish the best of luck to Michael as he continues his journey past college! Chloe Jansen: Chloe Jansesn wrapped up her junior year after starting in 24 out 25 games, and averaging 11 points and just over 6 rebounds. Jansen always had a dream to play in college, but that dream really started to come to life in the middle of her high school career. “I think I always had a dream or a goal to play in college but never really took it into consideration until my sophomore year. AAU gave me that experience of exposure as well.” Although there are many great things about the Highlands basketball program, Jansen pointed out her coaches and her teammates as two key factors into helping her get to where she is today. “The Coaches played a huge part in this with having confidence in my abilities and pushing me into being the player that they knew I could be when I doubted myself. They always wanted the best from me and helped me to be the player that I am today. My teammates that I played with pushed me day in and day out, whether that was in practice or games.” Throughout her three years of college so far, Jansen has made multiple all-conference teams, and been named captain by her coaches and peers. “I made second team all-conference my sophomore year and our team made the conference tournament for the first time in a long time sophomore year as well. This past season I received second team all-conference again. After my freshman season I was named captain by my coaches and teammates which was an accomplishment as well.”

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