Avon Grove's Perkins and Cyron sign to play Division 1 sports
● By Steven Hoffman
By Steven Hoffman
Carlie Perkins, one of the area’s elite divers, and Stephen Cyron, a leader on one of the area’s top lacrosse teams, signed letters of intent to play at the Division 1 collegiate level in their respective sports. Cyron is heading to Robert Morris University, while Perkins is bound for North Carolina State. Family, friends, teammates, and coaches took part in a celebration of their accomplishments on their signing day at Avon Grove High School on Nov. 24.
“Stephen has helped us through some good years,” lacrosse coach Eric Jackson explained, noting that Cyron was on squads that earned back-to-back district titles. “He’s an unselfish kid, a team-first player.”
Cyron led the county in scoring last season with 68 goals and was his team’s offensive MVP. He was also an All-Ches-Mont League selection and was named a Second Team All-Philadelphia player.
“He’s an excellent shooter,” Jackson said. “And he has just worked very hard. His story is that hard work pays off.”
Jackson called Cyron an outstanding person and excellent student who is near the top of his class academically. The coach also noted that he has coached Cyron’s brothers in lacrosse and wrestling, dating back more than a decade. All of Cyron’s siblings—brothers Mark, Jeff, and David and sister Morgan—play lacrosse.
“I feel like I’ve known the Cyron family forever,” Jackson said.
Cyron said that one game that stands out in his mind is a district semifinal showdown against Conestoga, a game that Avon Grove wasn’t supposed to win but did because of a strong team effort. The team went on to win its first district title.
Cyron said that the signing with a college and the opportunity to play lacrosse at the Division 1 level is the culmination of a lot of hard work and practicing, and he is looking forward to competing at the collegiate level.
Perkins is also looking forward to competing at the collegiate level—in diving, as unlikely as that would have seemed just four years ago.
Avon Grove swimming coach Kelly Burk explained that Perkins is a former gymnast who only transitioned to swimming competitively as a freshman. It was Burk who later convinced Perkins to give diving a try. She took to the sport quickly, earning a spot in districts and just missing qualifying for states as a sophomore. She joined West Chester Diving to speed up her progress and became a team captain on the Avon Grove squad.
Last year, as a junior, Perkins was one of the top divers at districts and placed fifth in states. She set school records in the 6-dive and 11-dive.
“She also holds some swimming records so she’s very versatile,” Burk explained.
Perkins is particularly accomplished in short races, and set a school record for the 400-meter relay.
Chic McKnelly, an assistant coach with the swimming team, said that Perkins has excellent technique as a swimmer and diver, and very precise form, an assessment that Burk agreed with.
“It’s just beautiful to watch her,” Burk said. “Having the opportunity to coach Carlie and see her transform in to the person she is today has been a highlight of my coaching career.”
Even though she has competed in swimming and diving for a few short years, Perkins has a long list of accolades on her résumé.
She earned First Team All-County honors, was named to the All-Ches-Mont First-Team, and was selected for the Pennsylania All-State Team as a junior.
She was also the 2014 Diver of the Year for the Ches-Mont League, and was a 2014 Speedo High School All-American.
Burk has been very impressed by Perkins' progress as a swimmer and diver.
“Carlie is a dedicated student-athlete who leads others by setting a strong example with her effort and intensity both in and out of the pool,” Burk explained. “She was appointed captain of the team for her junior and senior years because of her leadership abilities and positive attitude.”
Those attributes certainly helped Perkins achieve a great deal of success in diving in a relatively short period of time. Now that she will be competing in diving in college, she is glad that she decided to pursue the sport.
“I was hesitant at first, but it worked out for me,” Perkins said. “Gymnastics definitely helped.”
Perkins said that she visited the campus of North Carolina State and decided that it was the college for her.
“They were one of the first colleges to contact me,” she explained.
One of her best memories was finishing fifth in states. She has high hopes heading into the upcoming season.
“My goal is to place very well in districts and then finish in the top two in states,” Perkins said.
Burk is looking forward to seeing what Perkins accomplishes during her final year with Avon Grove and during her college career.
Carlie is tenacious,” Burk said. “She faces challenges and works tirelessly to accomplish her goals. She has only been competitively swimming for three years and diving for two and a half years. She has already qualified for state and national competitions in both sports. To say I will be sad to see her go is an understatement, but I am excited to see what she can accomplish at North Carolina State and I am hopeful that others will get to benefit from what she brings to their institution.”