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Watson signs with UNC-Asheville

North Surry senior Kolby Watson will continue his baseball career at UNC-Asheville after officially signing his NCAA National Letter of Intent.

“It feels awesome. This is a dream I’ve had for a long time,” Watson said after putting pen to paper. “When I was little I always wanted to play in college, and it feels good to finally achieve that goal.”

Watson, who is also a multi-year starter on North Surry’s basketball team that is fresh off an appearance in the 2A Final Four, said continuing his baseball career has always been his top priority in sports. He and his dad, Kevin, who was also his first coach, bonded over the game early in life and carried that bond to the present day.

“Me and my dad just really love baseball; we always watched it when I was growing up,” he said. “We spent a lot of time with the game and we both had that same love for it.”

Kolby began his high school baseball career as a freshman in 2020. He was pulled up to the varsity squad by then-coach Tony Martin, but the season only lasted two weeks before being cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He returned the following season and became a starter under coach Daryll Johnson.

“We kind of knew right out of the gate when he came to high school what he was going to mean to our program,” Johnson said. “We ask him to do a lot for us. He’s a true outfielder, but he’s made a little sacrifice to help the team out playing infield. He’s worked hard on his glove, and while his bat has always been there he continues to work really hard at it to keep improving.”

Johnson bragged about Watson’s work ethic, saying that opportunities to play college ball will always be possible for kids with his drive.

Watson’s opportunity to play Division-I baseball came knocking between his sophomore and junior seasons. Kolby traveled to Florida with the Carolina Rockies showcase team in 2021 and, due to his performances, put his name on the radar of multiple schools.

“Last summer I had a big showing in a tournament down in Florida and I finally got a little bit of interest,” Watson said. “It really gave me a confidence boost that ‘hey, I can actually do this,’ and ever since then it’s just kind of taken off.”

Johnson added: “I was getting a lot of feedback from his coaches and a lot of people associated with the showcase during the summer program. I heard about how well he was doing and I’m not a bit surprised that he’s signing to play D-I ball now.”

Watson used the summer showcases as a jumping off point and continued to hone his craft as a junior.

The Greyhound announced his verbal commitment to UNC-Asheville in June 2022, then made things official in November.

“I’m proud of Kolby and I’m proud of everything he’s done for North Surry,” Johnson said. “He’s driven by the relentless pursuit of perfection. We’ll never perfect our skills in this game, but he’s always trying to get better and is never complacent where he’s at. I’m really excited for him and his family. The hard work has paid off.

“This is an awesome opportunity for him, and is also an awesome opportunity for me because I’ll get to go see him as well. I’ll be there traveling and watching UNC-Asheville and will get to see two former North Surry players.”

Watson joins 2020 North Surry graduate Brett Johnson on UNC-Asheville’s roster.

Kolby extended thanks to multiple people for helping him get to this point in his baseball career:

“I want to thank my mom and dad and the rest of my family. Special thanks to Coach Johnson, Tony Martin, and Ryan and Les Mayhew – my travel ball coaches. Coach Tyler Hiatt and Coach Daniel Draughn helping me in the weight room and helping me become more of a man.”

Despite committing the next four years of his life to the UNC-Asheville Bulldogs, Watson still has plenty to give to the North Surry Greyhounds. The job’s not done for Kolby and the huge class of senior players that will compete for North Surry in the spring.

“Of course we always want to keep winning and keep progressing, but our goal is to win a conference championship,” Watson said. “We’re going to do whatever we can to try and get that goal.”

On Watson’s final season of high school baseball, Johnson said: “He’s a big part of our team in every aspect of the game. We’re looking for some big things out of him, especially leadership, this upcoming year. We’re already faced with adversity, but he’s going to help get us through that with his hard work and experience.”

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