By Jim Newell
Four of Lake Orion’s best and brightest student-athletes have agreed to continue their playing careers at the collegiate level, signing national letters of intent during a special ceremony at the high school on Nov. 9.
The fall signing day featured accomplished young women, each a standout in their respective sports and in the classroom: Moyea Russel in golf, Jamie Bell and Shelby Misiak in softball and Sarah Hennings in swimming.
“This is a special day for all of our student-athletes. It takes dedication to get to this level,” said Athletic Director Chris Bell. “These young ladies, all four are special talents, special student-athletes.”
“It’s also a credit to the coaches. They’ve done a lot to help develop our students in all our sports,” Bell said. “Our kids have gone on and done well in college because they are prepared athletically and academically. And I’m confident that these four young ladies will go on and do the same.”
Moyea Russell – Golf
Moyea Russell, the most accomplished female golfer in Lake Orion history, has chosen to attend Southern Illinois University.
“Moyea has basically risen our golf program to heights it has never seen before,” said golf coach Monty Gallaher. “Before she came we were not even winning 9-hole matches.”
Russell began practicing with the varsity team in eighth grade and has taken the varsity team to the state finals the past four years that she has been an official member, Gallaher said.
She is a three-time all-state and a Dream Team member. In 67 varsity matches she has broken par eight times, has a career average score of 78 and a 2016 scoring average of 75.
She holds two tournament records: shooting 68 at the Pontiac Country Club and a 70 at the Lapeer Country Club.
“People ask me all the time who’s the best player you’ve ever coached, and she’s right here,” Gallaher said of Russell.
Russell said she chose SIU because “They have a really good golf program and a really good broadcast program, which is what I wanted to go into.”
Her ultimate goal, though, is to continue to develop her golf game and play professionally. “Hopefully, golf (at Southern Illinois) will prepare me to play on the tour,” Russell said.
As for her career in Lake Orion, Russell said a career highlight was making the state tournament four years in a row and “really bonding as a team this year” with her fellow golfers.
“It’s definitely bittersweet. I’m excited to continue my career at Southern Illinois, but I’m going to miss seeing my teammates.”
Shelby Misiak – Softball
Softball player Shelby Misiak is one of the best power hitters in Lake Orion’s history and has chosen to attend Saginaw Valley State University next fall.
“You could tell there was going to be great things that would happen to her,” said Coach Joe Woitrya. “I believe Saginaw Valley signed her as a building block for their program.”
Misiak hits “with extreme power,” Woityra said, adding that opposing teams were so mindful of her power that Misiak was walked 26 times last year.
She’s a two-time all-state athlete and Oakland Athletic Association scholar-athlete. Misiak pitched and played first base for the Dragons
“I’m excited, there’s more to come,” Misiak said of her decision to sign with SVSU. “I love the campus and I love the coach. The feeling I got from the team and the atmosphere was really good and what I wanted.
“I’m looking to excel in my sport and win at a higher level and fulfill my dream of playing in college,” Misiak said, saying leaving her Dragon teammates is bittersweet. “I’m going to miss all the friendships I’ve made and all the fun times we’ve had together.”
Jamie Bell – Softball
Jamie Bell plays second base and outfield for the Dragons softball team and has committed to play at Adrian College in the fall.
“I like the idea of a small school. My brother goes there and really likes it. It’s a perfect fit for me,” Bell said.
Bell is known as a strong leader on the softball team, a player with grit and determination.
“To make a championship team you need a Jamie Bell,” said Coach Joe Woityra. “A player who isn’t afraid to get dirty, slide into a base, knock a ball down – that’s Jamie Bell.”
Woityra called Bell “The Ultimate Team Player” and said that in addition to her prowess on the field she is also a LOHS scholar-athlete and a recipient of the Dragon Award.
“Hopefully, as a freshman, I can contribute and help the program win some games,” Bell said.
“Our team last year was incredible. I’m going to miss them the most. Some of the girls I’ve been playing with for years. They’re amazing,” Bell said.
Sarah Hennings – Swimming
Swimmer Sarah Hennings is bound for Bowling Green State University.
“I really like the team and the coaches make me feel really welcome. And I like the balance of academics and athletics,” Hennings said of her decision to continue her swimming career at Bowling Green.
Hennings, who has been swimming since she was ten, said she is looking forward to “having another support system” in college. She has a 4.32 G.P.A. and has taken 32 advanced placement and honor classes.
“Sarah is an exceptional athlete and an exceptional swimmer,” said head swim coach Darin Abbasse, adding that Hennings is “easy to coach.”
Abbasse, an associate principal at the high school added that in addition to her talent in the pool, her personality makes her a special student-athlete: “She likes to tease her teammates and they tease her. She is a joy to have in swimming.”
Hennings holds Lake Orion individual records in the 100-meter backstroke and 100-meter butterfly.
She is a two-time all-state swimmer, an academic all-American and swims on the 200-meter medley and 400-meter freestyle relay teams.
She is also an Oakland County champion and was courted by Rutgers and Cornell universities, Abbasse said.