By Megan Kelley
On the morning of Feb. 3, twelve Dragon athletes signed letters of intent to play their respective sports at the college level.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the traditional collective signing after athlete introductions was scratched in favor of an approach that would allow for proper distancing.
Inside of the Lake Orion High School auditorium, each athlete was individually introduced by their coach and climbed the stairs to center stage with their family where their coach said a few words before the student signed their letter of intent and exited the stage. This process was repeated until each athlete had officially signed their letter.
This round of signees include: volleyball player Taylor Butkewicz; bowlers Grace Tefund and Teagan McAuliffe; soccer player Elizabeth Reginek; lacrosse players Caden Loken and Sean Henige; and football players Kade Manzo, Mitchell Debrincat, Henry Bielicki, Lucas Tapley, Sergio Figueroa and Andrew Kneiper.
As in years past, LOHS Athletic Director Chris Bell began by offering words of advice to the young athletes as they prepared to take the next step in their athletic careers.
“Student-athletes, obviously this is a great accomplishment. You’re one of the elite, one of the few – take all of the student-athletes that play high school athletics, there is only a few of you that have this opportunity to go on and play college athletics,” Bell said. “This is not a destination, this is only the beginning, the beginning to a new chapter.”
In the true to tradition sentiment, Bell gave the students an idea of what they have in store for them in the coming years.
“One of the things about playing college athletics, it’s a great experience, it’s different than high school, but I will tell you, student-athletes, it will be a life-changing and life-enhancing experience,” Bell said. “I will tell you early on, it will be difficult, sometimes lonely…All these things that coaches told you about ‘stick to it’, ‘show up every day and work hard’, those lessons are really going to come into play when you’re a freshman or you’re a sophomore and you’re competing with juniors and seniors who have been there for a while…I will tell you, if you can stick it through and you can be dedicated to your academics; the opportunities, the lessons you learn, the growing that you will do as a student-athlete, they will serve you well for the rest of your life.”
Kicking off the signing was Taylor Butkewicz who was introduced by varsity volleyball coach Tony Scavarda. Butkewicz signed her letter of intent to play volleyball at Rochester College.
Head coach of Lake Orion’s girls bowling team Dennis O’Neill first introduced senior bowler Grace Tefund who signed to Lawrence Technological University.
Teagan McAuliffe was also introduced by O’Niell. McAuliffe signed her letter of intent to be a member of the bowling team at Quincey College.
LOHS girls soccer player Elizabeth Reginek signed her letter to play at Tiffin University in Ohio after being introduced by Amanda Hutchinson.
Lacrosse players Caden Loken and Sean Henige each signed letters of intent for the University of Detroit Mercy. Both were introduced by the head coach for varsity boys lacrosse Ron Hebert.
Rounding out the signing was football coach John Blackstock who introduced the second half of signees, football players Kade Manzo (signed to Northern Michigan University), Mitchell Debrincat (signed to Saginaw Valley University), Henry Bielicki (signed to Madonna College), Lucas Tapley (signed to College of Wooster), Sergio Figueroa (signed to St. Norbert College) and Andrew Kneiper (signed to Hope College).
Blackstock offered similar encouragement to all the signees before leaving the stage.
“I would like to congratulate not just our football players but all of our student-athletes,” Blackstock said. “As coach Bell said, celebrate today, enjoy it, but I say celebrate it as a checkpoint not a final destination. Too often that table becomes the final destination. You’ve been through a lot of ups and downs, seniors especially…I try to look at things from a different lens that I think its prepared you better than any senior class we’ve seen.”