STEWART — It wasn’t always a smooth process, but Paige Tolson ended up right where she wanted to be.
Tolson, a senior at Federal Hocking High School, signed her national letter of intent to play basketball at Glenville State College.
The 5-foot-3 point guard committed to Glenville State late in October, and made it official with Wednesday’s signing.
“It’s a really special day,” Tolson said. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s always kind of been the goal. So being able to accomplish that, it’s kind of everything that we’ve ever worked for has paid off.”
Tolson has made waves in Stewart over the last three seasons. She averaged 19.5 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists per game last season.
That led her to winning the Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division Most Valuable Player Award, as well as earning first team Southeast District honors in Division III.
Tolson is tenacious on the court. Her coach, who is also her father, said that aggressive style of play helped Paige land her scholarship to the Pioneers.
“Maybe her size hurts her a little bit, as far as when a college coach looks at her, but once they see her play, they realize that she plays a lot bigger than what she is,” Federal Hocking coach Jeremy Tolson said. “A lot of people see that in the TVC. She definitely plays very hard and I think that paid off more than anything. I think that’s the style that they like. That’s what they spoke to us about, was they loved her tenacity. They loved that she’ll get on the floor. They love that she’s physical, tough.”
Paige Tolson said that Glenville State was her first choice, once the recruiting process got underway after her junior season
The challenge for Tolson was having an altered offseason due to COVID-19.
Instead of regular AAU tournaments and campus visits, Tolson’s recruiting process began with a spring where not much of anything was able to happen.
However, Tolson was eventually able to travel to Indianapolis for some AAU tournaments in the summer. An official visit to the campus in the summer helped the process.
“It was a little stressful at times,” Paige Tolson said. “It’s kind of just stressful trying to stay positive throughout the whole thing, not getting a normal AAU season. But it all worked out the way it did, so I don’t have much to complain about.”
The Pioneers are a Division II school that competes in the Mountain East Conference. They were 26-5, and averaging 106.8 points per game, when the 2019-20 season was canceled.
It’s the kind of pace and style of play that Tolson loves, and part of the reason why the Pioneers were her No. 1 choice.
“We went on a visit in the end of July, beginning of August. I think that’s when I really fell in love with it,” Paige Tolson said. “Because we were able to go and play, that started all of our conversations and it just moved forward from there.
“It felt like they had something special there. Their coaches were awesome. Their girls seemed amazing, so it just seemed like that was where I wanted to be.”
Tolson’s academic focus will be in the medical field.
Because of last season’s cancelation, and players retaining eligibility, there was some question as to how many available scholarships the Pioneers would have. When they came with an offer, Jeremy Tolson said it put the family at ease.
“When she got the call and everything was taken care of and we made the decision to commit, I was very elated about it,” he said “It’s a very fun moment for me. I played (in college) so I understand the excitement. It’s nice to see my kid work so hard for something and achieve her goal.”
Paige Tolson has been the backbone of the Lancers’ program ever since her freshman season. Federal Hocking was scheduled to open the season at home on Friday against Miller.
With all of the uncertainty of the offseason, Tolson said her main goal for the coming months was simple.
“Make it through the season, that would be the No. 1 goal,” she said. “Try and make it through with everyone healthy. Get as many games in as we can. I don’t have too many personal goals, I just want to have a positive season, a winning season.”
Tolson did say that hitting a thousand career points is something on her radar, but that team goals were more important. It’s the type of attitude that has led her to success on the basketball court.
“The family atmosphere that you get and the friendships that you make with your teammates, you’ll always have that and you’ll always be able to look back at it,” she said. “The competitiveness, it pushes me and I just enjoy it.”
Tolson was surrounded by her friends and family on Wednesday. Her Lancer teammates joined her in the signing day celebration. She said she wouldn’t have had it any other way, since so many people had a hand in helping her reach her collegiate destination.
“Without my mom and dad taking me to all the exposure things, or things like AAU and with all of our other coaches — it’s a ‘we’ thing. I got here because they pushed me to it,” she said.