BERLIN- Following a path blazed by his father a generation ago, Stephen Decatur football standout Ernest Shockley this week signed a national letter of intent with Bowie State University to continue his athletic and academic career.
Shockley, a hybrid of sorts between a defensive lineman and a linebacker, earned many accolades during his outstanding high school career at Decatur and this winter played in the Blue-Gray All-American Bowl in Florida. On Wednesday morning, he signed a letter in intent to keep is athletic and academic career going next year at Bowie State University.
The letter-signing ceremony came on the morning of Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump’s arrival at the Berlin school later on Wednesday, but Principal Tom Sites said that event was secondary to one of the school’s finest achieving his dream of playing football and studying at the next level.
“This is the biggest event in our building today,” he said. “This young man was worked hard on the athletic fields and even harder in the classroom. He is the epitome of our student-athlete at Decatur.”
Typically stoic Coach Bob Knox got a tad emotional when talking about coaching the second generation of the Shockley family. Knox coached dad Ernest Shockley at Decatur, who went on to an outstanding career of his own at Delaware State.
“I coached his father and the apple didn’t fall very far from the tree,” he said. “Between the lines, Ernest is physical and aggressive with a non-stop motor, but in the hallways, he is a true leader that would literally do anything for you. I’ve seen him grow as a football player and a man and that’s because of his parents’ tutelage.”
Shockley said he has been playing football for about 12 years and started in the Salvation Army League. He has also played basketball and competed in indoor and outdoor track at Decatur. Last year, he suffered a devastating ankle injury and some doctors predicted he wouldn’t be the same athlete as he was, but with Knox’s help, Shockley was able to get in touch with the right physical therapy specialists and worked his way all the way back.
For his part, the elder Shockley said the same lessons he learned from Knox years ago were still being applied at Decatur and praised his former coach for his assistance over the years.
“He doesn’t know how far we really go back,” he said. “I’ve been close to Coach Knox for as far as I can remember. As a player, I could call him in any situation, and there were thousands of situations. He was a father figure and a mentor.”
Shockley’s mom Ronshell Shockley said Decatur was a nurturing environment where kids were given every opportunity to succeed and urged those following in Ernest’s footsteps to take advantage of that.
“His entire high school experience could not have been at a better school,” she said. “The athletes here can use Ernest as an example of overcoming obstacles and seeking the guidance and resources available to them.”