February 08, 2012 - It might have been national signing day for college football programs on Feb. 1, but Oxford High School took time to honor 14 senior student athletes who signed letters of intent to play various college sports.
Front row (from left): Cassie Edgemon, Katie Bearse, Olivia Krause, Lindsey Leppek, Chelsea Johnson and Brittany Johnson. Back row (from left): Kyle Hartwick, Matt Economou, Prescott Line, Collin Goetz, Michael Kitchner, Anthony Cappuccilli, Brianna Johnson and Ryan Reason. Photo by Andrew Moser.
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OHS saw athletes in baseball, cross country, football, soccer, softball and volleyball sign letters before Feb. 1.
"I don't know what the previous ones have held as far as going to college, but this has got to rank up there as one of the largest senior classes to get athletic scholarships or commitments to play at colleges," OHS athletic director Mike Watson said. "It's fantastic."
"These kids are getting the opportunity to extend their athletic career, something that has been educationally valuable to them in high school and in middle school, and they are getting a chance to do that in college and develop skills that are going to serve them so very well in life," Watson added.
Varsity football coach Bud Rowley was thrilled for all the athletes.
"Hat's off to those Oxford athletes going to the next level," he said. "It is a great thing for those young people to reach that level and have the opportunity to go and play at the next level."
Six members of Rowley's squad will be playing on Saturday afternoons in the fall, headlined by Prescott Line signing with Southern Methodist University and Collin Goetz signing with Central Michigan University.
Other signees include Matt Economou (Northern Michigan University), Michael Kitchner (Ashland University), Anthony Cappuccilli (Alma College) and Ryan Reason (Hope College).
Cappuccilli has also signed letters of intent with Alma to play soccer and run track.
"I'm very fortunate to have great kids that buy into the program (and) parents buy into the program," Rowley said. "The kids worked hard since they were seventh graders. Now they get to take it to the next level."
Rowley said he was the benefactor of the years of hard work each student athlete put in.
The Johnson sisters, Chelsea and Brittany, commited to run cross country for Wayne State University.
Varsity cross country coach Ray Sutherland said he was "extremely proud."
"They worked extremely hard for two years and to represent Oxford, you couldn't have two better. Excellent examples of what somebody should do – good person, good student, good athlete," he added.
According to Sutherland, this was the first letter of intent signing for female cross country runners he has witnessed.
St. Clair Community College picked up two volleyball commitments - Olivia Krause and Katie Bearse.
Meanwhile, a third member of the volleyball team, Lindsey Leppek, signed to play for Rochester College.
Cassie Edgemon signed to play softball with Macomb Community College.
Varsity girls volleyball and softball coach Kristi McDevitt could not have been prouder.
"I am extremely proud of these young women," she wrote in an e-mail. "Once they started realizing their potential during their high school careers, they sought out the next level and worked hard to get it."
"These ladies are prime examples of the positive attitudes that athletics installs," she added.
McDevitt noted the coach at St. Clair CC "would stop at nothing," to get Bearse to sign after watching her play.
She added Leppek was going to "fit in beautifully," at Rochester.
"On the court she is fierce, and off the court she is the first to step up and volunteer her time for camps and helping others," McDevitt wrote.
Kyle Hartwick will further his baseball career at Rend Lake College in Ina, Illinois, while Brianna Johnson will play soccer for Aquinas College in Grand Rapids.
"You can see the sports we have done well in, you see a lot of volleyball, you see a lot of football, but we are making headway in some others," Watson said. "So much depends on the individual talent of our kids, but some of these things are programmatic too."
"They are a reflection on our program, but mostly a reflection on the parent first, the coaches second and the department as a whole third," Watson added.
"You send all those young people out to college and to go play at the next level. It says alot about Oxford, Oxford athletics, Oxford High School, moms and dads and the teachers."
Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.