ORANGE BEACH – Seniors Joey Robertson and Shayd Arboneaux made history Monday afternoon at the high school where they became the first Mako basketball player and wrestler, respectively, to sign …
ORANGE BEACH – Seniors Joey Robertson and Shayd Arboneaux made history Monday afternoon at the high school where they became the first Mako basketball player and wrestler, respectively, to sign with collegiate teams to continue their athletic careers.
Robertson, Orange Beach’s first all-state boys’ basketball player, inked his commitment to the University of Tusculum and Arboneaux, the first Mako wrestler to earn a medal at the state championship, signed with the University of Montevallo.
Arboneaux will step right into more history where he’ll be a part of the Falcons’ inaugural wrestling squad in the fall, an aspect that drew him to the school.
“Especially since I've helped build the Orange Beach program from the ground up, I just thought it would only make sense if I helped with Montevallo,” Arboneaux said. “Seeing a brand-new DII wrestling school, I thought of the competition and just all of the amazing things that can come with that.”
On the other hand, the Tusculum men’s basketball program is a bit more established and it was the atmosphere, as well as the coaching staff assembled under head coach J.T. Burton, that sealed the deal for Robertson.
“Their culture, their coaching really stood out to me when they were recruiting me,” Robertson said of his deciding factor. “It’s just a family-based organization with good talent, good players and I'm just really excited to be there and that they want me there.”
Both athletes acknowledged the historical aspect of being the first Mako signees in their respective sports but knew they certainly won’t be the last.
“That means so much to me, because that's like I'm the precedent,” Arboneaux said. “Just being able to have the honor of being a role model for future athletes on the wrestling side of Orange Beach is just really awesome.”
“It puts a lot of pressure on me to set a good example for these younger guys coming up. I definitely want them to look at me and be like, ‘Hey, that's something I want to do when I get older,’” Robertson said. “I try to be a leader to them as much as possible just for them to kind of take after me to continue that culture at Orange Beach.”
With all eyes on them in the Media Center of the high school, the pair put pen to paper to cement their college decisions in front of those who supported them the most.
“I can't put in words how grateful I am for everyone that came out,” Robertson said. “I’m so grateful for everyone that's been with me throughout this journey.”
“I honestly didn't expect this many people to show up,” Arboneaux said. “Wrestling is a newer sport and people are kind of intimidated by it, but I'm just glad to see so many people come out and support what I want to do. It really makes it all feel worth it.”
Both of their winter sports seasons have begun and although they’re early in their campaigns, each of the athletes were feeling good about themselves and their teams as a whole.
“I feel better than ever. The end of last season, I was kind of starting to fade away because my body wanted to get stronger, gain more weight. I was kind of having to cut really hard to get down to 120 (pounds), but this year, I'm wrestling at 132 and I just feel great,” Arboneaux said. “I see us having two (state championship) rings on our fingers, one for our team, and one for individual. That's exactly what I see.”
“We'll be pretty good. We've had a couple of tough matchups, I think coach wanted that at the start of the season just to get us good looks, but we played some really good 7A teams,” Robertson said. “I feel like we're going to be pretty good in our Area. We have good competition but I think we'll be good competition as well. … I’m hoping to make it to state. End the year on a really good note, that’s my goal.”
Before then, they both hoped younger athletes take away lessons from their paths.
“Exactly what you put in, is exactly what you're going to get out. And if you're willing to put in the time and do the hard work, even when you don't want to, you're going to – heck, you could surpass me and become the new precedent,” Arboneaux said. “I just want my precedent to be that you always work hard in whatever you do.”
“As the opportunity grows, I’m just continuing to grow as a person. I don’t want to let this affect me and my morals. I’ll just to stay positive, stay confident and not let all this attention drag me down to an average player,” Robertson said. “I need to stay up there, I need to stay vocal, set a good example for these other kids coming up and stay humble and stay hungry.”