By Russell Vannozzi for The Robertson County Connection
College signing ceremonies look a bit different these days thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing.
Many athletes have opted for a small family gathering at home or to simply submit their letters of intent with little fanfare.
White House High School took the creative route for senior tennis player Danielle Rappuhn, who signed with Covenant College (Ga.) on Tuesday morning.
The table setup looked typical, complete with balloons, a banner, pictures and cupcakes inside the school library. But instead of cramming dozens of family, teammates and teachers into the room, attendees were piped in via Zoom and the ceremony was broadcast on Facebook Live by the White House BDP Network.
“This was best we could do today,” said White House Sports Information Director Kris Freeman, who helped organize the event and the broadcast. “And hopefully this is the last time we have to do it, because we want to be back to normal (ceremonies) in the future.”
Rappuhn wrapped her high school tennis career nearly two months early due to the pandemic. But now the 2019 Main Street Preps All-Sumner County Honorable Mention selection has achieved her goal of reaching the next level.
“This has been my dream for a long time,” she said during the broadcast. “Ever since I saw (college) teams hanging out together whenever we would go to hotels, I always thought I wanted to be a part of that.”
Rappuhn served as a team captain and finished 9-4 in singles play last season. She also paired with close friend and doubles partner Savannah Corbitt to win the Cumberland Classic Girls A doubles championship in 2019.
“Since freshman year we’ve been like peanut butter and jelly – that’s a bad analogy, but it’s all I could think of,” Rappuhn said with a laugh. “(Savannah) has really made me want to be a better player.”
Rappuhn didn’t appear heartbroken that her senior year was cut short. She will move to Covenant College, which is located atop Lookout Mountain just 10 miles south of Chattanooga, in late August. The school plans to have on-campus instruction this fall.
“I miss coming to school, but I don’t miss learning in school,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed my four years (at White House), but senioritis just came a bit early. I like all my teachers, and I’m grateful for them.”