By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Most of the students a part of the Class of 2020 at Millington Central High School have been involved with education in the Flag City for several years.
A few transfers trickle in over the years including Jamiya Turner from Haywood County. Back in 2018, Turner and her family made the move to Millington.
Then a sophomore Turner was preparing to leave behind athletic past as a Lady Tomcat and just blend into the black and gold atmosphere.
“I was real nervous,” Turner recalled. “I wasn’t planning on playing sports but something in me couldn’t give up on the thing that I’ve been doing my whole life. I had to mature really fast and Coach (Whitney) Horton helped me bring that out. She helped me step up and earn my position and role.
As May approached, Turner is about to graduate as a Class of 2020 Trojan Hall of Fame member. She was a two-sport standout in basketball and softball.
The daughter of Trivia Turner and John Hughes build on her nearly decade of playing sports as a top-notch student. Jamiya served as Trojan Football manager in 2019, and she’s a member of the Fellow Christian Athlete Club and the Pep Club.
“I got to know everyone,” Turner said. “I’m the people person of the family and that helps me out a lot. Talking to people and getting to know them is my thing. I love people and my attitude toward anything I do or say is what I think makes everyone love me. I try to stay uplifted even when things aren’t the best.”
Things are not the best as of April 2020. On March 13, Turner and all her peers at MCHS started to play a new game — the waiting game. Millington Municipal Schools and other districts across the Volunteer State canceled classes because of the coronavirus pandemic. With in minutes, school on all levels in all 50 states were affected by COVID-19.
“This has affected me positively and somewhat negatively,” Turner acknowledged. “The pro is that I have time to make decisions regarding my future whether it be school, sports or getting a job. The con is that my routine is thrown off schedule. I’ve never had this much time on my hands. I feel like after this, it’s gonna be hard to go play at the next level anywhere.”
Like most student/athletes, Turner has dreams of playing on the collegiate level. But her main focus in March was being the senior leader for Coach Horton’s Lady Trojan Softball team. Turner was fresh off a senior basketball campaign for first-year Head Coach Nick Buford.
Turner was voted Athlete of the Week multiple times during the basketball season finishing in the top 3 in scoring, rebounds and assists.
Coming into the softball season Turner was voted a captain just like in basketball. Now she was preparing to focus on being a solid bat in the middle of the lineup and top-level pitcher. In a flash, all of Turner’s plans were gone.
“Well I try to wake up early as if I’m going to school,” Turner noted. “And I do my chores throughout the day. I try to get a workout in between my tasks during the day.
“I miss game days,” she continued. “Waking up for school on a game day puts me in a great mood. It carries over to the games and I try and give 110% every play of every game.”
Now Turner is dedicating herself to her future as an adult. Thinking she had a couple extra months to impress college coaches, Turner has moments of deep reflections.
“My teammates and coaches of both sports I miss the most,” she said. “They make my day 100 times better.
“Yes I feel like my chances of playing at the next level are slim, since this pandemic taken over,” Turner acknowledged. “This pandemic makes me want to play in college even more. I want my skills to be put to use. I don’t wanna be wasted talent, because I know people like that and it makes me go 10-times harder knowing that I don’t wanna be like that person that wasted their talent.”
Turner did not waste her time at Millington. On April 6 she was informed that along side an exclusive group of her peers she was a member of the Hall of Fame.
The selection is awarded to seniors each year by the teacher and administrators for exceptional students across the board.
Horton and Buford placed their trust in Turner as a captain to be a leader, accountable and example of work ethic.
“I proved to them that I bought into what they were teaching me,” Turner said. “Trusting what the coach tells you is a part of the journey to success. I trusted the process and it made a big impact on my performance.
“When I started to produce for the team, so did everyone else,” she added. “My senior teammates Sky Clark helped me pour positivity and hunger into the young team that we had. All you got to do is trust the process.”
Turner’s trust in the process at MCHS has led to success that she hopes continues at a college in the Fall of 2020. Coronavirus has robbed her of her senior season of softball but Turner is praying a blessing will come out of this time.
She has a message for any college coach reading this during quarantine.
“You should take a chance on Jamiya Turner,” she concluded. “Because she is an outgoing, inspirational, hard-working, student- athlete that is never afraid of a challenge. She is ready to work. No off days.”