Editor’s Note: The Daily Times has released the final part of an eight-part series discussing the accomplishments and future plans of Southeast Ohio District Athletic Board and OHSAA scholarship winners Makayla Akers, Alek Blevins, Taylor Doerr, Cole Gilliland, T.J. Hoggard, Drew Lowe, Nathan Riehl, and Hagen Schaefer. Blevins, Doerr, Gilliland, Hoggard, Riehl, Lowe, and Schaefer have been featured and Akers will be the eighth and final feature of the series.
Top-flight student athletes usually have top-flight goals in mind.
In the case of Wheelersburg’s Makayla Akers, that message is certainly no different.
Akers, who starred on the basketball and volleyball courts for the Pirates while also excelling in the classroom to the point of being named co-salutatorian at the end of the season, was awarded a $500 scholarship from the Southeast Ohio District Athletic Board (SEODAB) for her excellence as a student and as an athlete.
For Akers, being honored for her exploits as a student-athlete in such a rare fashion is something that the senior won’t take for granted.
“I honestly felt so honored when I found out I’d been awarded a scholarship,” Akers said. “I knew that there were so many applicants, and the fact that I was chosen was just such an honor to me. I’ve worked hard these past four years to get to where I am today.”
Akers, who was vastly productive in both basketball and volleyball throughout her Wheelersburg career, used her athleticism, quickness, and her 5-11 frame to create various amounts of matchup problems for her opponents in both spots.
On the volleyball side of the coin, Akers amassed 522 kills and 74 blocks during her All-SOC campaigns in 2015 and 2016 and collected All-SOC II Second-Team and First-Team honors in both seasons as the Pirates went 38-11 overall and 27-1 in SOC II conference play during her final two seasons around the net.
But for as successful as Akers was on the basketball court, the 5-11 standout was just as successful — if not, even more so — with the roundball.
Over the course of her basketball career at Wheelersburg, Akers proved to be a difference-maker for the Pirates by allowing the Lady Pirates to collect victories in 85 percent (63-11) of the contests that she started in.
Sure enough, Akers was an All-SOC performer during each of her final three seasons of play, and, behind a line that included 8.5 points, seven rebounds, 1.4 steals, and an amazing 4.1 blocks per affair — which really shows the athleticism that Akers brought to the table — collected All-Southeast District honors as a senior. Ultimately, those numbers — and her success with her teammates — allowed the senior to earn a spot on the Alice Lloyd College basketball roster in Pippa Passes, Ky.
“At Wheelersburg, there’s a high standard that is expected to be held,” Akers said of the success that’s expected in all areas. “As a team leader, I knew that others were looking up to me and would ultimately want to follow the same path that I traveled, so it inspired me to be the best that I could be.”
And on the academic end of the spectrum, Akers’ best efforts certainly showed as the star-studded student-athlete collected co-salutatorian honors en route to graduating amongst the school’s top five students.
“Time management was key for me,” Akers said. “I had a lot going on and a lot to balance. However, my parents (Debbie and Kevin) played a huge part in my ability to manage my time and be successful. For example, my Mom taught me to manage my time efficiently from the time that I was a young girl. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am at today.”
With her high school career in the books, Akers will head to Alice Lloyd, where she’ll double major in sports and fitness management and kinesiology. From there, Akers’ plans are to transfer to the University of Kentucky, where she hopes to specialize in pediatric physical therapy and obtain a doctorate degree in the field.
While physical therapy courses are certainly challenging, to say the least, Akers feels that her experience at Wheelersburg has her prepared for any blows that college courses may attempt to land.
“Wheelersburg has taught me to do anything that I set my mind to in the best manner possible, no matter what it is that I am attempting to do,” Akers said. “Academically, I couldn’t be more pleased with Wheelersburg. I feel more than prepared for college, and though it was challenging, I thought that the work was well worth it.”
And sports, which teach much of the skills that are necessary to balance the rigors of life effectively, gave Akers an important reminder that she’ll never forget.
“Sports have been a focal point in my life for as long as I can remember,” Akers said. “The main lesson that I learned in sports, which applies to every aspect of life, is that if you’re not having fun, it’s not worth doing. I plan to take that with as I take on the next chapter of my life.”