By David Boyce
On the surface, Liberty High School senior Morgan Fleming faces an impossible task of topping her junior year.
The video tribute to Cokely Fieldhouse she and Isaac Knopf put together entitled, Goodbye Cokely, was shown between the final girls and boys basketball games played in the fieldhouse last winter. It was an honor for Fleming and Knopf to have their classmates see all of the work they put into paying homage to a high school gymnasium that has meant so much to so many generations of Liberty residents.
“We worked on it for three months,” Fleming said. “We did interviews with past players and coaches. Isaac did a lot of the technology. He has really nice equipment. I did the calling of people, planning, and interviewing just because I grew up around Liberty basketball and knew a lot of the people. I knew they had some great stuff to tell us.”
Their work is achieving national recognition. In late August, Goodbye Cokely was selected as a finalist in the 2015 All-American High School Film Festival. Their film will be screened the weekend of October 9-11 at the AMC Empire Theatres in New York City's Times Square. Their film made the final cut, following thousands of submissions from over 48 states and 30 countries, and the honors are still coming in. Last week, Fleming found out that Goodbye Cokely was selected as a finalist in the National Scholastic Press Association’s Broadcast Story of the Year/Sports Story competition.
“They do an award ceremony in November in Orlando,” Fleming said. “I don’t think we get to go to that, but it sounds pretty awesome.”
Knopf graduated from Liberty last May and has moved into the next phase of his life. Fleming will be busying winding down the volleyball season and gearing up for basketball. Last year, Liberty’s volleyball team reached the state tournament, and the basketball team played in the state championship game.
“I had a great junior year athletically,” Fleming said. “I hope we can do the same in volleyball and basketball. Getting back to state is our goal. In basketball, we better be back in Columbia. I’m expecting it and the same for volleyball!”
The way Fleming sees it, she will have plenty of opportunities to achieve just as much or more than last year, and it goes beyond success on the court. The thing that makes Liberty High School special for Fleming is the numerous opportunities to participate in activities. While juggling schoolwork with athletics, Fleming is also a member of the student council, National Honor Society, Link Crew, leadership class, and broadcasting.
“Liberty High School provides a lot of new opportunities,” Fleming said. “In the time I have been in high school, we have had a lot of changes, as far as curriculum. We started Liberty Hour my sophomore year, which allows students time for tutoring. We have so many different programs and activities you can get involved in. Students have options for everything. You can make your own club. Everyone has an opportunity to get involved. I think that is why Liberty is so special. You have endless opportunities to succeed.”
Like so many students before her, taking advantage of those opportunities has put Fleming in a position for some wonderful college choices. Recently, she was offered a Division I scholarship to play basketball at the University of Arkansas. She visited the campus with her family.
“It was amazing,” Fleming said. “I feel very blessed to be given that opportunity, although no decisions have been made, yet. We are trying to figure things out as a family and not rush into anything. I feel like my hard work is paying off. It has always been a dream to play collegiate basketball at the highest level possible. It was awesome.”
Fleming is following the path of brothers Scott and Chad, and sister, Kara, who all played college basketball. That strong family bond is what helped make Goodbye Cokely so captivating. She knows the story of their state championship years well.
“I got to interview all three of my siblings,” Fleming said. “That was really cool just to hear everyone’s great stories.”
Fleming first became interested in broadcasting in an eighth grade class, and her interest in it has grown since then. She said she learned a lot from Ann Bertoldie and now from Amanda Derryberry.
“I thought a lot about journalism as my major, but I’m not for sure,” Fleming said. “It depends on where I go to school. I started broadcast class in eighth grade, and I kind of fell in love with it. I have learned a lot from a lot of different people. I have a passion for it.”
It is early in the 2015-16 school year, and Fleming is well on her way to make it her best year yet at Liberty High School.
“I love Liberty High School,” Fleming said. “I wouldn’t trade a second of it. I am loving my high school years. It is the people I spend time with everyday, my teammates in basketball and volleyball, my coaches, and teachers. I am surrounded by the best group of people who are supportive of me and supportive of what I want to do. They are always there to help me when I need it. The people at Liberty High School have made my years so special.”