ELIZABETHTOWN — They share a minutes-apart birth date, 12 years of school and numerous athletic endeavors. Now they will share their college experience.
On Friday, East Bladen seniors Eian and Ethan Hines signed their letters of intent to compete in collegiate track and field at Mt. Olive College, reportedly becoming Bladen County’s first student-athletes to earn a college scholarship for the sport.
“This is something we always like to see,” said East Bladen track and field coach Wilson Bolden. “These boys are the first to do this in the county and we’re really proud of them.”
Staying close to home and attending college together were two big factors as the twins began sifting through all of the interest being shown by the likes of N.C. State, North Carolina, UNC-Pembroke, Fayetteville State, Methodist, Appalachian State, North Carolina A&T and Benedict College in Columbia, S.C.
“They wanted to stay together, and we’re happy with their decision,” said the twins’ father Eric Hines. “They really liked the college and the track program — as well as the academics.”
Eian plans to major in graphic arts, while Ethan remains undecided.
Both of the Eagles’ star athletes — who excelled in football, basketball as well as track and field — said Mt. Olive’s top-ranked track and field program was a good fit for them. They added that coaches have already said the two would be competing in familiar events at the next level. For Eian, that means the long jump, relays and possibly the 100-meters; for Ethan, it means the long jump and relays.
The Div. II Trojans are the defending Conference Carolinas men’s track and field champions.
Jason Wray, principal at East Bladen High, said both Eian and Ethan have made their school and community proud.
“These boys came here as good athletes, but they are leaving as great athletes,” he said. “We’ve had a few college signings in the two years I’ve been here, but these are the first African-Americans — they won’t be the last.
“They should serve as a model for all of you coming along for what hard work, commitment and dedication can do,” Wray added. “The two young men are someone to look up to.”
Their Eagles track and field coach agreed.
“This (signing) can and should motivate others coming behind them,” Bolden said. “We saw a lot of talent right from the start, and it just got better and better. There’s no telling what their ceiling is.”
Ethan had been shown some interest by some of the regional football programs after a senior season that saw him finish as one of the Four County Conference’s top rushers. But Eian had no interest in playing football, so the two settled on the track and field contacts.
“I think we’ll be happy at Mt. Olive,” Eian said.
“We really like the (track and field) program, and can’t wait to get started,” Ethan added.
Four more years side-by-side.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.