By Susan Carroll
Lake Orion held its National fall 2017 signing day and will send eight LOHS athletes off to play college sports after signing commitment letters on Nov. 8.
This is the first of three official signing days for the school year.
“This is a special day and we like to make it special because they are making a commitment to be a student-athlete at the college level. It also puts an exclamation point on their high school careers before they move on to the collegiate level,” said Athletic Director Chris Bell.
Heading off to play college sports in the fall are:
• Softball: Susan Bielicki, Kasidy Carson, Bethany Gardner, McKenna Roy.
• Volleyball: Danielle Sargent, Illyria Kalaj.
• Lacrosse: Trevor Burke.
• Baseball: Andre Orselli.
Signing a letter of intent takes the athlete beyond the verbal commitment and turns it into a written one between the student athlete and the college or university.
Andre Orselli is heading off to Ball State University to begin his college baseball career as a pitcher.
Andy Schramek, head varsity baseball coach, said that Orselli is a grounded person, a great kid and well liked.
“He is a wonderful teammate and in his junior year, he set the school record for hits,” the coach said. “When he steps on the mound he is a leader and the definition of a bulldog.”
Coach Schramek is looking forward to Orselli putting another year together this spring like he did last year. He feels that will set Orselli up to be one of the all-time great Lake Orion baseball players.
Trevor Burke played football and lacrosse for the Dragons and will attend Olivet College to play lacrosse.
Head varsity lacrosse coach Brad Thomas said Burke is a tremendous competitor and works hard to make himself and his teammates better at their sport.
In the off season through hard work on the field Burke worked himself from not getting much playing time, to starting some playoff games and becoming a key contributor on the defensive end in his junior year.
“Trevor loves to win, he is a great team partner and he gets the job done every single time,” said Thomas.
Burkes decision to attend Olivet was two-fold. His lacrosse summer travel team coach is the head coach at Olivet College.
“I fell in love with his coaching and I wanted to continue to work with him,” said Burke.
Secondly, he said, “I like the college, I didn’t want to go to a big school, and its got that homey feeling.”
Burke is glad to have his college choice behind him so he doesn’t have to worry about where he will be going.
Thanking the parents for their help over the past four years was on top of Tony Scavarda’s mind. Scavarda is head varsity volleyball coach.
“I appreciate all they have done and for raising two truly great kids that have been a pleasure to coach,” he said.
Danielle Sargent will be rowing at Michigan State University after she finishes high school.
She is the first four-year varsity volleyball player Scavarda coached.
She made the team as a freshman and had an immediate impact on the team, which helped us set a school record for wins in a season,” Scavarda said.
This year, as a senior team captain, she stepped up her game and was a go to hitter, lead in blocks and was third in kills.
As part of her high school career, Danielle holds two league titles and one district title.
She was selected to OAA All-Conference team for the second year in a row and is All-Region this year.
“She can always be counted on, works hard and has a smile on her face; she is a great teammate,” the coach said.
“The first word that comes to mind is determination,” said Scavarda when speaking of Illyria Kalaj.
Kalaj signed to play volleyball for Western Michigan University.
“The level of improvement over her career is unprecedented, which goes to show how hard she works. She has worked herself up to one of the best players in the state at her position,” Scavarda said.
Kalaj has a unique ability to anticipate where the ball is going to go and she usually makes the play.
She is one of the most exciting high school players to watch, the coach said.
This year, she led the team in digs and aces. She is OAA All-Conference and made her first All-Region team.
“She was one of our captain’s this year and she has set a great example with her effort and energy. She is inspirational,” said Scavarda.
Kalaj said that going off to college is surreal, that it hasn’t hit yet.
“I am really excited to go to college and for things to come and to keep improving,” she said.
She visited four colleges and chose Western after her initial visit.
“I had a feeling I didn’t have at any other college I visited. I looked at my dad and said, ‘wow, I really like it here,’ and decided it was the college for me,” she said.
She will be sad to leave Lake Orion and this year is going by so fast so she is trying to embrace it all.
She will soon start club volleyball which goes right until she leaves for college. She loves to travel and in club play, she gets to travel around the country.
It is rare that a freshman makes the varsity softball team during tryouts.
However, in 2015, LOHS had four ladies make the team and these same four signed letters of intent during last week’s signing.
“(The girls are) terrific athletes and people; kind, well-mannered and respectful of their coaches,” said Dave Wilson, assistant varsity softball coach.
Susan Bielicki has a 4.1 gpa, signed her letter of intent to Cleary University where she plans on majoring in Business Analysis.
She will be a catcher and first baseman at Cleary.
“Through hard work and determination, she worked her way up to catcher at LOHS, which is not an easy position to learn,” said Wilson.
Susan bats fourth or fifth in the lineup, hit .393 last year with 5 home runs and 37 RBI’s.
She was second team all-district as a sophomore and first team all-district this past year.
When asked why she chose Cleary University, she said, “My major is kind of different and their business school has the exact major and I am pretty confident in what I want to do.”
Bielicki said leaving her family and Lake Orion is going to be hard but she is more than ready.
Kasidy Carson has a 4.19 gpa and will be studying biology with the intent to go to medical school. She will be attending Hillsdale College and will play on their softball team, playing second base or shortstop.
She played shortstop for LOHS for the past three years, hit .420 as a sophomore for Lake Orion and .415 this past year for her travel team.
She represented the USA in the International Cup Tournament held in the Netherlands this past year.
“Kasidy is a terrific athlete and very determined to be the best at whatever she does,” said coach Wilson.
Carson decided to “jump the gun early” and go to Hillsdale. After visiting a couple other colleges, she visited Hillsdale and instantly fell in love with it.
“The girls are all so great, the campus is better than I could ever imagine.”
Carson said she aspired to play college ball years ago, and as she continued to play, her feelings grew stronger towards wanting to pursue a college athletic career. She hit a certain point in her softball career and decided it was definitely something that she wanted.
“I am excited to be going to college, but I am going to miss Lake Orion high school,” she said.
Bethany Gardner has a 3.8 gpa and will be playing softball at Grace College while she studies nursing.
“She will be a wonderful nurse. She is kind and compassionate with attention to detail and I have no doubt that she will excel in the nursing field,” said Wilson.
She will play first base in college, and is a typical first baseman – tall, left-handed, has a long stretch and an excellent fielder, said Wilson.
Gardner has a .992 fielding average this past year and hits a home run every 10 at bats.
She visited Grace College and practiced with the softball team while she was there.
“I just absolutely fell in love with it, I love the dynamic of the team and the coaches. That’s how I made my decision, because I’ll be playing with these girls for four years. I am excited to continue my education.”
McKenna Roy has a 3.5 gpa and her batting average is .364. She will be pursuing her degree in biomedical engineering and will continue to play first base on the softball team at Lawrence Technical University.
McKenna has played third base at LOHS.
“She has a great glove with a strong arm, a great eye on the plate, she very rarely strikes out,” said Wilson. “She seems to be a ball magnet and has walked more than she has struck out.”
“I’m super excited about my future. I have always wanted to do architecture or pre-med. I’m not sure (yet), but they have both, so it’s perfect,” Roy said.
By signing early, you can now relax and play. We are looking forward to outstanding seasons from all of you,” said Bell. “We could not be more proud of you at Lake Orion. We get to say we are your biggest fans.”