By Jim Newell
Thirteen Lake Orion High School student-athletes signed their national letters of intent April 12 to continue their playing careers in college next fall.
This was the largest signing day of the year. In November, four students signed and seven more signed in February to play college sports, bringing the total to 24 for the 2016-17 school year.
Athletic Director Chris Bell said the school averages 20-30 athletes signing to play in college every year.
“It says a lot about our teams, the athletes and the hard work of the kids. They’re very good athletes, but very good students as well.”
Bell said several of the athletes receive academic scholarships in addition to their sports scholarships. “The only full ride scholarships are at the division one levels. The smaller colleges can’t give full scholarships so the athletes often rely on a combination athletic and academic scholarships.”
Several of the athletes throughout the three signings have also made the league all-academic team, and some beyond to regional and state academic honors.
“We have a lot of athletes that are great students. That’s one thing we do really well at Lake Orion.”
Bell said there are three reasons these students receive scholarships: “one, their talent; two, their academically solid; and, three, they’re great people.”
“When you play collegiately, it’s a stage up, it’s for the serious athlete. There’s more that’s asked of them on and off the field,” Bell said. “It’s great to see the opportunities for our student-athletes.”
The 13 athletes who signed letters of intent were:
Taylor Eaton will run girls track at Western Michigan University.
Margaret Hastings joins the track team at DePaul University.
Michael Jarvis will run track at Grand Valley State University.
Jack Everts will run cross country at Wayne State University.
Dallas Clearly joins the track team at Northwood University.
Eric Dietz will play lacrosse at Stevenson College.
Abygal Barnewold joins the lacrosse team at Lawrence Tech.
Gwyneth Brodbeck will carry her lacrosse sticks to Adrian College.
Lindsay Wightman will attend Oakland University and play volleyball.
Taylor McCarty will play football at Wayne State University.
Tanner Robertson joins the swim team at Wayne State University.
John Moll will wrestle at Wabash College.
Delaney Bryce joins the girls basketball team at Trine University.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am on days like this,” said LOHS Principal Steve Hawley, who made the introductions during the program. “We are so proud of them and look forward to cheering them on as they continue their athletic and academic careers.”
Hawley also thanked the parents and coaches who have helped guide the students.
“We really have excelled in a number of areas and that speaks volumes about coaches and athletic department,” Hawley said.
Girls track and field Coach Dave Hutson praised Taylor Eaton and Morgan Hastings, saying they exemplified the talent, durability, determination and courage necessary in great athletes.
Michael Jarvis, Dallas Clearly and Jack Everts have shown determination, self-discipline, hard work and responsibility said Stan Ford, head coach of boys track and field.
“They are being given a great opportunity to carry on a great tradition of what they’ve learned at Lake Orion,” Ford said. “I think it’s important to understand the level of discipline it takes for them to get here.”
Girls lacrosse Coach Ronnie Booth said Abygal Barnewold, a co-captain on this year’s varsity team, and Gwyneth Brodbeck were both academic all-state last year.
“Abygal is a very strong leader in the midfield. She’s always been a joy to coach,” Booth said.
Brodbeck is the team’s top scorer, who works both sides of the field and “brings a lot of athletic intensity,” Booth said. “I have very high hopes for these athletes, all of our athletes, both in college and the rest of the season.”
Volleyball Coach Tony Scarvada said Lindsay Wightman has “a competitive drive and work ethic that would make an impact on any program.”
Wightman, a co-captain this year, led the team in digs and aces.
“In my opinion, she was the best in the state at her position this year,” Scarvada said, adding that Wightman hated making mistakes and was one of the most driven athletes he’s ever coached. “That’s what makes her so great as a player and leader of our team.”
Head football Coach John Blackstock said Wayne State University is getting an exceptional punter in Taylor McCarty.
“Not only are they getting a special player, but they’re also getting a special young man. His character is outstanding,” Blackstock said, adding that McCarty would text him on Sundays with ideas about the upcoming games after watching game tapes.
Lacrosse Coach Brad Thomas said Eric Deitz, a second team all-state selection last year, is the team’s number one defender, covering the best player on the opposing teams.
“He’s a great young man who leads by example,” Thomas said.
Swimming Coach Ray Onisko said Tanner Robertson, a second-year captain, shows a lot of determination in long distance swimming. Robertson was all-conference in 500-meter races last season.
“One of the things that sets him apart is his dedication in and out of the classroom,” Onisko said.
Girls Varsity Basketball Coach Kevin Kopec said Delaney Bryce was the only senior on this year’s team and he challenged her to lead by example.
“She’s gone above and beyond what we expected,” Kopec said, adding that Bryce excels in her commitment and perseverance.
Coach Mike Dibble said wrestler John Moll has “outstanding character” and was a pleasure to coach.
“He’s the type of guy who gets knocked down seven times and gets up eight,” Dibble said.
By Jim Newell