2018 Fannin County Sports Hall of Fame inductee Stephanie Scearce began her competitive basketball career as a second grader and did not hang up her sneakers until a knee injury permanently sidelined her just before her senior season at Kennesaw State University. It was her third serious knee injury in a career full of a lot of euphoric highs and a few devastating lows.
Stephanie enjoyed her first taste of glory as a member of the Georgia Class C Parks and Recreation Department State Championship 9 and 10 year old team in 1997. She was tall and talented and full of both trepidation and enthusiasm when she reported to Coach Johnny Farmer to begin her career at Fannin County High School in the late fall of 2000. She won a starting job as a low post (inside) player beginning with her very first game as a freshman.
Coach Farmer says that Stephanie was one of the hardest working players that he coached. And he adds that her hard work was focused. She was continually working at improving specific parts of her game — working on a new offensive move, ball handling skills, free throw shooting, boxing out for rebound position and other disciplines — with no wasted energy. She always reported for practice immediately after her final class and worked hard until it was time to go home. She also devoted countless hours to a weightlifting regimen to improve her strength. As a low post player she generally battled the biggest and strongest player for the opposition and strength was a necessity to effectively compete.
Stephanie set a number of goals, both individual and team, for her basketball career and by the time she finished her sophomore season at Fannin High she was well on her way to accomplishing those goals. On an individual level, her goal of being a first-team All-State selection was realized when the Atlanta Tip-Off Club and Atlanta Journal and Constitution named her to the GHSA Class AAA All-State First Team of the Year. She was also selected as the Lady Rebels Best Offensive Player. Dozens of letters from college recruiters arrived at the Scearce house and Stephanie was considered as a top Division 1 College prospect. She had developed a strong relationship with the coaching staff at SEC power Auburn, however, and was making preliminary plans to spend her college days at the ‘loveliest village on the plains’ in Auburn, Alabama.
One of Stephanie’s team goals was to win a State Championship and the 2001-2002 team came very close, advancing to the state semi-finals before losing. After the season, Coach Farmer says that he had high hopes that the returning squad for the 2002-2003 season would have a very realistic shot at bringing home a third State Championship to Blue Ridge. The team would be led by junior Stephanie Scearce and two other members of the Fannin County Sports Hall of Fame, junior Alden Acker and senior Mandy Anderson.
The 2002-2003 season had barely begun when the unthinkable happened. As Stephanie was driving to the basket in a Christmas Tournament game at Towns County she felt a ‘pop’ in her right knee. The injury was diagnosed as a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear and Stephanie was done for the season. She had surgery a short while later.
The injury was so serious that several of the teams that had been recruiting Stephanie, including Auburn, backed away. She went through an intensive rehabilitation program, however, and came back for her senior season in 2003-2004 at or near 100% of her physical skills prior to the injury. Despite the injury she remained on the recruiting lists of numerous colleges. Her senior season would become one to remember in Fannin County High School basketball history.
After a sluggish start, the 2003-2004 Fannin girls developed into a force to be reckoned with, finished with an overall record of 25-8 and advanced all the way to the Class AAA State Championship game before losing to arch-rival Gainesville. Stephanie averaged 17.3 points and 8.9 rebounds per game and was named as the Lady Rebels Most Valuable Player. The Georgia sports writers named her to the Class AAA All-State second team in recognition of her great season. Even missing most of her junior season and the first few games of her senior season, Stephanie Scearce scored 1,375 points during her career at Fannin County High School making her the third leading career scorer in school history. She was only 28 points shy of reaching the #1 spot. She was second in school history in career rebounds with 799. She graduated with honors and was ranked 26 academically in the 2004 graduating class. She was a member of the National Honor Society for three years.
Stephanie decided to continue her basketball career at Kennesaw State University, a school that was in the midst of moving up from Division II to Division I status for athletic competition. She had an auspicious debut with the Owls, scoring 18 points and gathering 13 rebounds in her first game against Southern Polytechnic. She went on to have a solid freshman year playing in all 30 games and finishing the year averaging 9 points and 6 rebounds per game. She had an individual game high of 24 points in a game against West Georgia.
Prior to the beginning of her sophomore season of 2005-2006, Stephanie found her career derailed again when she suffered another ACL tear, this time in her left knee. Another period of rehabilitation followed and she was healthy and ready to go when her junior season began in the fall of 2006. She was a major contributor to the Owls that season averaging 10.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. She led the team in rebounds with a total of 192. The injury demon appeared again before her senior season and she decided not to go through another round of rehabilitation and prepare for life without basketball.
Stephanie Scearce graduated from Kennesaw State University with a B.S. in Communications in 2008. An exceptionally bright, well-spoken young lady she landed a job as Executive Director with the Fannin County Development Authority in January of 2009 and remained in that position for nearly seven years. Her focus was in bringing new industry and jobs to Fannin County and in assisting existing businesses grow and develop. In October, 2015 she was offered and accepted a position as Northwest Georgia Project Manager with the Georgia Department of Economic Development. She makes her home in Woodstock, Georgia.
Throughout her career, Stephanie Scearce has been fortunate to have a strong support group led by her mother and father, Mike and Yevette Scearce. Mike is a banker and Yevette has been a 4th grade teacher at East Fannin Elementary School for more than 20 years. Stephanie gives Mike and Yevette much of the credit for her development as a basketball player, student and the sharp and sophisticated businesswoman that she is today.