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Aiken High's McBride signs with Limestone track and field

May 31—Aiken High's Aaron McBride admitted Thursday that his plan to sign an athletic scholarship at the collegiate level didn't necessarily follow the script.

His expectations fell through in one sport, but then he found another avenue and discovered a new love — track and field. That opened up new doors for him, which helped him get his plan back on track.

Limestone University is the next stop for McBride, who was celebrated at Aiken High in a signing ceremony commemorating what he called a surreal experience.

"I think it's been another staple of us at Aiken High trying to push kids to the next level, and for them to want to do that," said Aiken coach John Hostetler. "Aaron has been able to do enough to make sure that he is applicable to those programs. They reached out right away, when the school year started, for him. He stuck with it and did that, and I'm proud of him for that. It's been great. It just says a lot about what we do at Aiken High."

McBride, also a defensive back on the Hornets' football roster, will compete in the long jump and triple jump for Limestone, where he wants to study exercise science in order to become an athletic trainer. The academic angle is what attracted McBride to his next home.

"What they offered as a student, because you've got to be a student before you can be an athlete," he said. "What they offered as a student, as a school, that's what drew me in. The coaches were another thing."

Hostetler said McBride's path can be a lesson to other high school athletes that there are plenty of opportunities to earn a college scholarship for track and field even if football or basketball aren't options. Perform and train at a high enough level, like McBride, and those doors will open.

"It just shows adversity. I can make it through anything," McBride said. "Anything that's thrown at me, I can bounce back and be even stronger than what I came in as."

McBride reflected on his time with Aiken High's track and field program, one that competes against the best of the best and is no stranger to success. Yet, like so many other Hornet signees in recent years, wins weren't the first thing McBride thought of as his favorite part of being part of the team.

"The conversations we've had on long bus rides, all the jokes and laughs," he said. "Just being one big family, that's really what it was. Being able to be friends and still go out and compete against each other, and coming back and still having that loving spirit."

His time as a Hornet should serve him well as he moves forward, Hostetler said. The level of work and competition within Aiken's program is a good barometer for what he'll face once he's a member of a college program full of like-minded competitors.

"He just needs to be able to persevere," Hostetler said. "He's really good at persevering, pulling things out to be able to accomplish the next-level stuff. I want him to, at this next level, be able to understand that he's going to have to continue to work hard. I think that he can. I think he knows that he is going to have to work hard, because there's going to be a lot of people working hard around him, so that he can maintain that spot. I think he's ready to do that."