Teddrick Steadman, a South Aiken High School football safety, has signed to play football in college on a campus with a mission that’s different and intriguing.

He will enroll in the Apprentice School, affiliated with Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia.

The academics offered at the school include courses connected to apprentice opportunities from a wide range of choices. In addition to getting tuition-free scholarships, students get paid for their work.

“I got interested from the start,” Steadman said. “It’s a great opportunity not only to do something in school, but afterwards. It’s like a job every day – three days of work and two days of classes every week.”

He can choose a trade and also can get an associate’s degree through a community college as he continues his apprenticeship. Although the school doesn’t function as a traditional college, the football team plays competitively at the Division III level.

“Teddrick was a well-disciplined player for us,” said Jeremy West, the head coach. “He’s coachable and leads by example. This is a good opportunity for him. For this program, you have to be motivated, and that’s Teddrick. His parents have done a great job of bringing him up. He’s got a good head on his shoulders.”

Steadman’s parents, Ted and Sandra Robinson, are delighted about this chance for their son.

A football coach from the Apprentice School visited South Aiken to discuss the program. He invited Steadman and his family to visit the campus and see some of the skilled trade programs.

Sandra Robinson said the school will help her son grow up and be responsible for himself and others in both work, housing and sports environments.

“It feels like a good place for our son,” said Ted Robinson. “I would encourage other students to look at this. They can save on student loans, and Teddrick can earn $15.48 an hour.”

Paul Waters, a Thoroughbreds assistant football coach, worked with Steadman for four years on the field and also taught the teenager in the classroom.

“This is an unusual opportunity,” Waters said. “Teddy can benefit in both worlds – getting an education while learning a trade. It’s great for an 18-year-old.”

Steadman is interested in pipefitting and electrical engineering. There are many other programs available as well – including heating and air conditioning, heavy metal fabricating, millwright, welding, shipfitter, rigger and several more. Advanced programs are also available.

While visiting the Apprenticeship School, Steadman attended a dinner with other football recruits.

“They seemed like pretty good guys to be around,” he siad. “The whole atmostphere is good.”

Rob Novit is the senior writer at the Aiken Standard, mostly covering education, and is a graduate of the University of Georgia.