Nine Avon Grove athletes sign to play at the collegiate level
● By Steven Hoffman
Nine Avon Grove High School seniors—Emma Brinton, Matt Chalupa, Julia Crabtree, Jake Good, Tom Jacobs, Doug Jones, Chloee Kleespies, Kevin Malone, and Brayden Peck—signed their letters of intent to play the sports that they excel in at the collegiate level during a college athletic signing ceremony on Nov. 9.
Vanessa Robtison, the school's director of athletics and student activities, said that the signing ceremony was an opportunity to celebrate the hard work and perseverance of the student-athletes.
“I stand here today proud of each and every one of these students,” Robtison told the large audience of friends, family members, and school staff who gathered in the gymnasium to honor the student-athletes.
Brinton, one of the school's all-time best swimmers, is heading to Duquesne University, and swimming coach Kelly Burk talked about the impressive contributions that she has made to the team. Brinton helped Avon Grove compile an 18-0 record and win back-to-back Ches-Mont League titles. She qualified for districts and states, and is a Scholastic All-American.
“We’re lucky to have Emma for one more season,” Burk said.
Avon Grove lacrosse coach Eric Jackson felt the same way about his three players—Jones, Malone, and Peck—who have signed to play lacrosse in college.
Malone is a goalkeeper for Avon Grove and will be heading to the Catholic University of America in the fall of 2017.
“He’s a great person and he’s got a great haircut,” Jackson quipped as he told the audience about Malone’s contributions to the team.
Jackson said that Malone “works hard and always stays after practice. He’s a goalie, and that’s one of the toughest jobs out there. It’s a high-scoring sport, and it’s not an easy task to play goalie.”
Jones has been a standout for the Avon Grove lacrosse team, and was a First Team All-League selection the last two years. He’s heading to West Point in the fall of 2017.
“He’s serving our country, which I think is really admirable,” Jackson explained.
Jackson said that Jones is a leader on the team, and he is very disciplined. Avon Grove is one of the area’s best lacrosse programs, and numerous players have been able to continue their playing careers at the collegiate level. Players like Jones are able to elevate the play of their teammates.
“He’s been a big reason for our success,” Jackson said. “In our program, we have a great culture.”
Peck is heading to Penn State to play lacrosse. He has been a First Team All-League selection. Jackson said that Peck is an excellent defensive player. Top defensive players in lacrosse might be short on statistics, but they are long on impact.
“He’s a great leader for us,” Jackson explained. “He’s scrappy, and he’s tenacious. We’re looking forward to a great season with all these guys.”
Starting in the fall of 2017, Chalupa will be playing golf for York College. He is one of the leading golfers in the area, and was a team captain for Avon Grove. He has the ability to hit the ball a long way, and has near-perfect technique—a fact that even opposing coaches have commented on after watching him play.
Volleyball coach Ashley Focht talked about how two of her players, Crabtree and Kleespies, played important roles as the team posted a 20-2 record during the season.
Crabtree was a four-year starter on varsity who earned First Team All-Ches-Mont League honors during her junior and senior years. She led the team in digs and aces. Crabtree is heading to Elon.
Kleespies transferred to Avon Grove for her senior season and she made an immediate impact on the team.
“She never failed to put in the most effort during games and at practices,” Focht said.
Kleespies led the team in kills, with 317. She also had 310 digs and 79 blocks. She was a First Team All-Ches-Mont League player all four years, and was an All-State selection during her junior year. She will be playing volleyball and track and field for Toledo.
Baseball coach Dave Whitcraft talked about Good and Jacobs, two key contributors to the team.
“Both of these young men are the epitome of student athletes,” Whitcraft said, explained that they have identical GPAs that are above 4.0.
Good, a lefthanded pitcher, is going to be playing for Widener in the fall of 2017.
“Jacob is an extremely dedicated player,” Whitcraft said. “He’s very consistent on the mound. He’s a great asset to have. It’s been a pleasure to coach him.”
Jacobs will be playing baseball at Ursinus in the fall of 2017. Whitcraft said that Jacobs is a captain on the team and works very hard in the off-season, setting an example for the other players. Whitcraft added that Jacobs’ best position might be catcher, but he worked very hard to learn to play third base and first base because one of the league’s best catchers happened to be in front of him last year.
“He worked diligently and ended up being our first baseman most of the year,” Whitcraft explained.
As a catcher, Jacobs also works well with the pitchers to put them in a position to be successful.
“He’s an intense competitor, and he gives our pitchers confidence,” Whitcraft said.
Robtison said that additional athletic signing ceremonies could be held in the coming months as the students who are graduating in 2017 make their decisions about where they are going to attend college.