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Joyner signs with Barton College

AHOSKIE – He’s headed to Barton College.

Last week, Ridgecroft School senior Hanes Joyner declared his intention to play for the Bulldogs, signing with Coach Matthew Atkins’ team as part of the 2009 recruiting class.

“I’m excited,” Joyner said. “I’m hoping that Coach Atkins will develop my soccer skills even further. I’m looking forward to playing at the collegiate level.”

Atkins said he was pleased to have Joyner coming to Barton as part of the current recruiting class.

“Hanes is an extremely athletic and talented soccer player and, more importantly, possesses great character,” Atkins said. “I believe we have only seen glimpses of his true potential and he has the ability to make our program more competitive from day one.

“Hanes is a three-sport athlete at Ridgecroft and knows what it takes to compete and when we focus all of his energies to the soccer pitch, there is no doubt he will excel at Barton just as he has at Ridgecroft,” Atkins added.

Joyner has been coached for the past four years by Aron Martin and said he probably wouldn’t be headed to play college soccer without his high school coach.

“He is one of the biggest influences in my development as a soccer player and a person,” Joyner said of his coach. “He has taken my game to a whole other level, mentally and physically.

“He is a wonderful role model and has treated me like a son, just as he does all of my teammates,” Joyner added. “That’s what makes him a great coach, both on and off the field.”

Martin said he believed Joyner had worked hard and earned his success.

“Hanes is one of the best I’ve ever had the pleasure to coach,” Martin said. “I was able to tell early on that he would develop into an outstanding soccer player and fine young man. He has done nothing to prove me wrong on those counts.

“He also comes from a family that has supported not only their son, but our entire soccer program here at Ridgecroft,” Martin added.

The coach said he had appreciated having Joyner play for him and knew his player would have success at Barton.

“I came to Ridgecroft during Hanes’ freshman year and we’ve had four good years together,” the coach said. “As a midfielder, he’s my little general out there on the field.

“I feel very comfortable in saying that Hanes will develop his skills even further at Barton,” Martin added. “Coach Atkins has a great program there and Hanes will fit in very nicely. He’ll have the opportunity to learn from their coach and their upperclassmen.”

Joyner began his Ridgecroft career in the seventh grade and started as a varsity midfielder his freshman season. He was twice named to the North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association All-State team. He was also named to the 1-A/3-A All Region Team for public and private schools during his junior and senior seasons.

He is the son of Larry and Susan Joyner of Ahoskie.

(Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald Sports Editor Thadd White contributed to this story.)