Four more Oxford seniors sign to play sports in college
● By Steven Hoffman
It has been a good year for Oxford Area High School's sports standouts, with some of the school's top scholar-athletes earning the opportunity to compete in their chosen sports at the collegiate level.
Seniors Katie Dodson, Sarah DeHaven, Shain Quigley, and Heather Burnett joined the ranks of these college-bound scholar-athletes on April 13, when they signed their letters of intent during a ceremony in the high school library.
All four athletes have enjoyed fine careers at Oxford. Dodson is one of the top hurdlers in the state. DeHaven and Quigley both helped the Oxford lacrosse teams as they transitioned to a varsity sport. And Burnett has been an important part of a team that turned around the fortunes of the Oxford girls' soccer program.
The Oxford girls' soccer team was struggling when Burnett arrived four seasons ago. The squad hadn't won a game in five years, but there was a new coach and a new nucleus of players working hard to turn the program around. As a sophomore, Burnett was a part of the team that snapped the winless streak. The team has improved each year since then, and posted a winning record this past season—a personal highlight for Burnett.
“I really enjoyed that,” Burnett explained.
She is heading to Edinboro University to play soccer after four years as a varsity player for Oxford. Her preferred position for the Hornets was as a right-back. Burnett attributed her success to hard work. She was the recipient of the Coach's Award during her senior year, and she was also a captain on the team.
“She is very coachable,” said Oxford girls' soccer coach Kevin Lentz. “She was our most improved player, probably every year.”
Burnett is the fourth member of the girls' soccer team that has signed to play at the collegiate level, just one more indication of how far the program has come.
DeHaven is heading to East Stroudsburg University to play the attack or mid-field position on the lacrosse team. She has played lacrosse as a club sport with the LanCo Elite for six years. At Oxford, she played the attack position on the lacrosse team as it transitioned from a club sport to a junior varsity squad to being a varsity sport this year.
“We've been building up the program,” said DeHaven, who has been a captain on the Oxford squad since her sophomore year.
At East Stroudsburg, DeHaven will be playing for Xeni Barakos, who is the director of the club team that she plays for. She credited all her coaches, including Oxford lacrosse coach Tracy Happold-Brown, with helping her develop as a player.
Quigley, who was also a starter on Oxford's basketball team, has signed to play lacrosse at Lycoming College. He said that the two sports aren't dissimilar, and what he learned on the basketball court helped him on the lacrosse field—and vice versa. He made an immediate impact during his first year on the Oxford lacrosse team—which was also the team's first year at the varsity level.
“He showed great leadership,” John Zitarelli, the head coach of the boys' lacrosse team, said. “He took control right off the bat. He's also a very patient player. He doesn't force anything. We're going to really miss him.”
Dodson will be a hurdler on the Liberty University track team that competes at the Division 1 level. She has been a track standout since her freshman year when she qualified for districts. In each successive year she has improved her performances, specializing in the 100-meter hurdles. After narrowly missing out on qualifying for states as a freshman, Dodson broke through as a sophomore and made it to states. During her junior season, she managed to trim her times from the 15-second range at the start of the season to a personal-best 14:44 at states, where she placed sixth. She is currently ranked second in the entire state in the 100-meter hurdles.
Dodson, who has also been a leader on Oxford's field hockey team, started competing in hurdles in seventh grade. Before that, she trained in gymnastics. She said that track coaches often tell her that she has good form as a hurdler, which has helped her improve her time in the hurdles.
She is looking forward to competing for Liberty University. “I love the school and the campus is gorgeous,” Dodson said.
At the ceremony for the four athletes, Oxford Area High School athletic director Michael Price said that he is proud of Burnett, DeHaven, Dodson, and Quigley.
“They put in a ton of time and effort to earn the opportunity to compete in college,” Price said.