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Five Berea student-athletes will take their talents to the next level after signing to play college sports last week.

Pirates gridiron star Jaiden Cunningham will take his talents to the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg in the fall. Cunningham led the Pirates in rushing the past two seasons, pounding out more than 1,300 yards and 14 touchdowns. Cunningham was also a force on defense, recording 40 tackles and three sacks.

“The University Cumberlands is getting a very hard working and self-motivated student-athlete,” Berea Coach Frank Parks said. “Jaiden is the type of player who can fit into any program. He is a very coachable and team-oriented young man. He will fit into their program great because he will work hard in the classroom, in the weight room and on the field.

Cunningham won’t be the lone Pirate in Williamsburg. Sophia Dobbins will take her vast volleyball talents to the University of the Cumberlands. During her senior year, Dobbins recorded 433 kills, 27 blocks, 125 assists, 544 digs and 129 aces.

Berea Coach Jarred Penn said the Patriot program is getting a player who leads by example.

“Sophia Dobbins was a huge piece of our team.,” Penn said. “She was the glue that held us together. Without Sophia, we would not have been as successful as we were. She will fit in anywhere she goes. At UC, she will be able to give them a player who can play anywhere on the court, and she will bring it every single day.”

Three Lady Pirate basketball players will continue their athletic careers in college as Mati Stepp and Madison Howell signed to play at Berea College, while Isis Rodgers will play at Spalding University in Louisville.

Stepp averaged 6.2 points a game while hauling in 1.4 rebounds a game. Howell averaged 15.8 points and 4.4 rebounds a game during their senior year.

Rodgers averaged 2.8 points and 3.6 rebounds a game as a senior.

“Mati has been a starter for us since the seventh grade,” Coach Dammian Stepp said. “She has scored more than 1,000 points and led us in assists for five seasons. She is a true point guard, and I believe her contribution at Berea College will be felt early.”

Howell led Berea in scoring the past three seasons and will be an asset to Berea College.

“As a six-foot guard who can shoot and penetrate, she will be an asset for Berea as soon as she is cleared for action (she is recovering from an in-season knee injury),” Stepp said.

“Her athleticism and length make her a threat on both sides of the ball.”

The coach lauded Rodgers’ tenacity during her time in the Pirate program and feels that will carry over to Spalding.

“She put in a tremendous amount of work in the off-season with hopes of playing at the next level,” Stepp said. “She is our leading rebounder at the guard position, and she is one of those players who plays bigger than she is. She is one of those players whose contributions help you win games.”

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