By Steven Hoffman
A total of 19 student-athletes from Avon Grove High School have committed to play collegiate sports next year. While events have been held throughout the school year as these student-athletes have signed their letters of intent, the school district decided to honor them with one big ceremony at the high school.
Edgar Garcia is heading to Franklin & Marshall College, competing at the Division I level, after winning 132 matches during his career at Avon Grove. Seventy-seven of those wins came by pin.
“He is Avon Grove’s all-time winningest wrestler,” said wrestling coach Frank McCue, adding that Garcia was a two-time league champion in his weight class.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to be one of his coaches,” McCue said of Garcia. “Hard work is how he was able to be successful.”
McCue noted that Garcia lost by pin just one time, and that came during the first week of his freshman year.
Garcia also earned a 4.1 grade-point-average while at Avon Grove, and was an exemplary student-athlete.
“He acts with integrity without even thinking about it,” McCue said.
The talent-laden boys’ lacrosse team was well-represented among the group of athletes who have signed their letters of intent. Tanner Peck and William Schreiner are both heading to Penn State University to play Division 1 lacrosse. Also playing Division 1 are Brendan McNicholas, who is going to St. Joseph’s University and Danny Norris, who is going to Lehigh University. Sam Martin will be playing Division III lacrosse at Eastern University. Eric Russo is heading to Johnson & Wales University, which is also Division III. Brothers Ryan Cook and Shane Cook will be playing Division III, too. Ryan is heading to York College and Shane is going to Widener University. Alex Lynch is going to play lacrosse at Elizabethtown College at the Division III level.
Avon Grove lacrosse coach Eric Jackson talked about special group of seniors who are graduating this year.
“This is a very special day,” Jackson said. “They’ve been excellent kids to work with. I know that they are going to do very well.”
Jackson lauded Martin for overcoming injuries and said that he would be a great addition to Eastern University.
The lacrosse coach called Lynch a great player who works hard.
Ryan Cook was described by Jackson as “a super-tough kid” who earned the Red Devil Courage Award. He also was a captain on the lacrosse team for two years.
Jackson praised Shane Cook for his excellent stick skills, and said that he really understands the game.
Russo has come up with a lot of good plays for Avon Grove, Jackson said.
Caroline Keegan and Kolbe White are both heading to St. Joseph’s University to compete at the Division I level. Keegan will be participating in track while White will be playing field hockey.
Four seniors on Avon Grove’s baseball team—John D’Aquanno, Joe Thompson, Elliot Forde, and Eric Ligda—also signed their letters of intent to play at the next level. D’Aquanno, a co-captain of the baseball team, is bound for Stevenson University, Thompson, a crafty left-handed pitcher, is heading to the University of Mary Washington. Forde is going to Misericordia University and Ligna is heading to play Division II baseball at Millersville University. Forde is one of the top fielders in the league and served as a co-captain on the team. Ligda is a pitcher who also plays first base and third base.
“You’re looking at four players who have a tremendously high baseball IQ,” said baseball coach Dave Whitcraft. “They know the game. We’re fortunate to have such outstanding student-athletes.”
“We knew that they had the potential to grow into great players,” added assistant baseball coach Robin Prescott.
Allison Raff has been a standout on Avon Grove’s volleyball team. This past season, she led the team in kills. As a senior, she was a First-Team All-Conference selection for a team that advanced to the third round of the playoffs. Raff is bound for Ursinus College to play Division III volleyball.
Phoebe Shoap, meanwhile, will be playing girls’ soccer for Ursinus.
Corinne Militana is bound for Delaware Valley College, where she will be a part of the inaugural women’s lacrosse team in the 2014-15 season.
Overall, there are seven Avon Grove student-athletes who will play Division I sports, one who will play Division II, and eleven who will play Division III.
Avon Grove Athletic Director Robert Devers said that he was proud of all the student-athletes because of all the hard work that went into reaching a point where they can compete at the collegiate level.
“This is a testament to the hard work of the athletes, all the good work by the coaches over the years, and the support from the parents,” he said. “We have great coaches and great support from the families."
Here’s a look, by sport, at the Avon Grove student-athletes who will be competing at the collegiate level next year:
Edgar Garcia, Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, Pa., Division I
Tanner Peck, Penn State University, State College, Pa., Division I
William Schreiner, Penn State University, State College, Pa., Division I
Brendan McNicholas, St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, Pa., Division I
Danny Norris, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa., Division I
Sam Martin, Eastern University, St. David’s, Pa., Division III
Ryan Cook, York College of Pennsylvania, York, Pa., Division III
Shane Cook, Widener University, Chester, Pa., Division III
Eric Russo, Johnson & Wales University, Providence, R.I., Division III
Alex Lynch, Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, Pa., Division III
Eric Ligda, Millersville Uiversity, Millersville, Pa., Division II
John D’Aquanno, Stevenson University, Stevenson, Md., Division III
Joe Thompson. Univ. of Mary Washington, Fredericksburg, Va., Division III
Elliot Forde, Misericordia University, Dallas, Pa., Division III
Kolbe White, St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, Pa., Division I
Caroline Keegan, St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, Pa., Division I
Phoebe Shoap, Ursinus College, Collegeville, Pa., Division III
Allison Raff, Ursinus College, Collegeville, Pa., Division III
Corinne Militana, Delaware Valley College, Doylestown, Pa., Division III (inaugural women's lacrosse team in 2014-2015).