CHURCH HILL — Volunteer senior NJROTC rifle team member Jaden-Ann Fraser signed a letter of intent to join the shooting team at the University of North Georgia during a signing ceremony Wednesday at Volunteer.
“She holds 12 national titles,” Volunteer Athletic Director Jim Whalen said. “Not over in Goshen Valley at turkey shoots. We’re talking national titles. She holds seven herself, five as a team.”
Fraser has won two NRA Standing titles, two Junior Olympics championships, the JROTC Nationals, the American Legion Nationals, and the Army Nationals. In addition, she’s been part of five national championships the VHS NJROTC rifle team has won during her three-plus years.
“That’s pretty good shooting,” Whalen said. “They are getting a good athlete. You’ve got to be smart to go there, too. I don’t know what she made on the ACT, but I know it’s up there.
“They are getting the best of the best right here. This is a great opportunity for all the work that she’s put in shooting, all the work that she’s put in the classroom, to continue her education,” Whalen said.
Something about Fraser said potential to NJROTC rifle team coach Norman Greear four years ago.
“We’ve had a rifle team for the past 11 years,” he said. “When I first came in, the kids were shooting – not shooting very well, nothing was really organized – and I kind of put a plan together, and we started shooting.
“From there, we started building our teams. The last few years I think it’s shown. We’ve won a lot of national titles. I’m very, very proud of the kids. I’m proud of the program,” Greear said.
“Honestly, I wasn’t planning on joining the rifle team until my coach, Chief Greear, approached me after class one day and said, ‘Hey, be there at 6 tomorrow,’” Fraser recalled.
“She never shot before,” Greear said. “She came into the program. There was something there that I recognized: some shooting skills, some potential. And I guess from day one, she picked that rifle up, and it was just meant to be. It’s just one of those things.
“Over time, her skills just kept getting better and better, which brings us full course to today. Here she is signing with the University of North Georgia getting ready to shoot collegiate and I’m so happy,” Greear said.
“I’ve tried to encourage my kids this is a path for the kids to get into college and get an education, but even more so, to continue to shoot. I guess my other shooters have decided not to by taking other paths, jobs, local community college, that kind of thing. But this is something Jaden wanted and she’s gone all the way,” Greear said.
“I’m very, very proud of her. She has seven (individual) national titles that she has won since she’s been here. She made my program look very, very good — made Volunteer look good. I’m very, very proud of her,” Greear added.
“Jaden has been an outstanding student. Her getting a scholarship and actually signing, I think that probably shows. She’s not only a talented athlete shooter, but she’s also academically sound, as well,” he said.
Fraser has steadily and rapidly progressed.
“This is my fourth year shooting competitive rifle,” she said. “I did have to grow my abilities and start working from the bottom. But Chief saw potential in me and I just kept pushing and got to where I am today.”
Fraser moved up from the Sporter division, in which she won the national titles, to the more difficult Precision division this year.
“I’ve been in Precision for about six months now and I’ve already signed with a college, so I’m very pleased,” Fraser said. “I have had about three (Precision competitions) and I’ve done fairy well at them.
“I’m looking at just continuing to grow and actually have a competition in the Junior Olympic qualifier this weekend. My fingers are crossed. Who knows what the future holds? I’m just here for the ride. I’m excited to see what happens,” Fraser said.
Fraser said she’ll compete at the Junior Olympic qualifier this weekend in two divisions as she will in college, the precision air rifle as well as with a .22-caliber rifle.
“I’ll be shooting an air rifle like you see behind me (on the signing table) and also a .22, which is under the class of small bore,” she said.
Fraser said she’s enjoyed the transition from air rifle to powder burner.
“I love it so much. All shooting is fun, but it’s just a different feel. You have the recoil, you see the smoke. You just feel cool doing it,” she said.
A little further down the road – and the reason for Wednesday’s gathering – Fraser will be attending the University of North Georgia, where she has received a scholarship.
“So, I’m very pleased with that,” she said. “I’m really excited. I’ve already met the team and the coach, and they’re phenomenal people, and I know it’s going to be a really good fit.
“I’m really excited to continue my shooting career with them. UNG is the No. 1 military college in the country, so I’m very blessed to be able to go and continue my education there,” said Fraser.
“My next option was West Point, and I actually was invited to go, but I decided my best fit would have been UNG, just so I can pursue possibly other careers rather than just the military. So, that’s why I chose UNG.”
As far as her major in college, “I’m thinking criminal justice,” she said. “I mean, it goes hand in hand. I’m very excited for my future. I think I’m on the right path and I’m just excited to see where things go.
“One thing that’s special about UNG is it’s the No. 1 supplier for CIA, FBI, NCIS,” Fraser said. “So I’ll, at least, have that opportunity to explore the different paths rather than just the military. So I’m going to see if one of those clicks with me. We’ll see what happens.”
Fraser doesn’t know how long she’ll shoot competitively. “Finish out my next four years in college and then, if shooting is my future, I’ll see it happen. But, as of now, I’m just planning collegiate.”
Beyond that, the world is her oyster.
“I feel like somehow you always end up back at home, but I’d like to see the country, maybe other countries, that would be great. Just see the world and have that opportunity,” said Fraser, who attended Surgoinsville Middle School before Volunteer, a school this charming, bright youngster appreciates.
“All of the opportunities I never thought I’d have, that weren’t given to me, but were presented to me,” Fraser said.
“You can take this if you want to. I really think this is a school where you can make a name for yourself if you try. I’ve been blessed to have teachers and mentors who have guided me on the correct path through all of this,” she said.