DUBLIN — Erica Tanner has a clear set of values that she applies to everything she tackles: God, school, sports. And she has a family that fully supports those values.
Tanner, a senior at West Bladen High School, has applied those standards so well that she has been selected as The Mountaire Farms/Heartland Publications Scholar-Athlete of the Month for November. The monthly award is given to the top student-athlete from Bladen, Robeson and Scotland counties.
“Erica is one of the most determined athletes I have ever coached,” said West Bladen tennis coach Jeff Atkinson, who nominated Tanner for the award. “Erica is very committed to practice and is outworked by no one. She takes preparation seriously and understands this is a direct route to becoming a better player.”
During her senior tennis season, Tanner finished the regular season undefeated in singles with a 14-0 record, including 12-0 in the Waccamaw Conference. She also teamed with Lexi Storms as the Lady Knights’ No. 1 doubles team and took second place in the Waccamaw Conference Tournament before going 1-1 in the Class 2-A state tournament.
Tanner is also a key member of the West Bladen varsity softball team, and is one of the Lady Knights’ top pitchers.
“We’re blessed by Erica,” said her mother and father, Paula and Eric Tanner. “She has her priorities straight and works hard.”
That hard work isn’t saved for the athletic fields. Erica currently ranks No. 12 in her class of 167 students, and carries a 4.2135 grade point average.
“I’ve always been taught to give my best and work hard no matter what at everything I do,” Erica said. “And that’s what I try to do.”
Her course load hasn’t been filled with just the high-school minimums, either. She been taking classes that includes honors biology, honors English, honors geometry, honors algebra, honors pre-calculus, honors chemistry and advanced placement classes in biology, English, U.S. history and calculus.
Atkinson, who has coached Erica for the past three years, says she stands out in every way.
“She’s earned a reputation as a hard-working, trustworthy individual who strives to excel,” he said. “She understands the importance of team dynamics and team cohesion; she puts all her energy into action, not emotion.”
After graduation in June, Erica is planning to attend either Methodist or Peace College to pursue a degree in biology. While in college, she plans to play tennis competitively and, beyond college, she hopes to land a job as a physician’s assistant.
“I want to have a good balance between academics and athletics while in college, just like I have here (at West Bladen),” she said.
And though she has her sights set on becoming a physician’s assistant, Erica said she’s given a little thought to something else, as well.
“I might think about coaching,” she said. “But no matter what, I want to keep playing.”