Seven Oxford athletes sign to play collegiate sports
● By Steven Hoffman
Tara Bender, Jeb Darhower, Hunter Hall, Riley Hollenbach, Marycate London, Luke Rettig, and Logan Wolfe have all signed letters of intent to compete in their respective sports at the collegiate level. A signing ceremony took place at Oxford Area High School library on Nov. 15, as coaches, teachers, family and friends gathered to honor the student-athletes.
For the seven athletes, reaching this point represents an important milestone, and is the culmination of years of hard work.
Jeb Darhower, for example, has been swimming since he was five years old. In 2018, he'll be heading to the University of Pittsburgh to study accounting and compete on the swimming team. His days often begin before sunrise and end after sundown so that he can get the necessary practice in.
“I swim in the mornings and the evenings just about every day,” Darhower said. “I'm always there.”
With his focus and dedication, it is no surprise that Darhower is already diligently working toward his post-collegiate life, even though he has six more months before he graduates high school. He wants to be a comptroller.
Darhower is looking forward to the upcoming swimming season, when Oxford will have as many as 20 new members between the boys' team and the girls' team. Darhower will once again be one of the leaders on the squad. He has a goal of placing in the top-three in the 500 freestyle and in the 200 freestyle at states this year, after posting a ninth-place finish in the 200 freestyle and top-15 finish in the 500 freestyle last year.
He believes that one of the reasons that he has excelled in the sport is his strong work ethic.
“I played different sports, but I really like the work ethic that you get with swimming,” Darhower explained.
Tara Bender was a four-year starter for the vastly improved Oxford girls' soccer team. When she was growing up, Bender played various positions, especially mid-fielder, but when she reached the high school she was enlisted to play in goal. It was a challenge, but one that she took on with enthusiasm.
“You have to be ready for anything,” she said of the goalkeeping duties.
As a freshman goalkeeper, Bender was part of a squad that managed to reduce the number of goals it allowed by half. By Bender's sophomore year, Oxford reached .500, a significant achievement after the program suffered through a difficult few years. Bender was an important part of the team's rejuvenation, providing stability in goal. She was a Second Team All-Ches-Mont League selection during her sophomore, junior, and senior seasons.
Bender said that she thinks she was able to improve her game during her four seasons with Oxford.
“I became more vocal and I think my reaction time increased,” she explained.
She is now heading to King's College (Pennsylvania), which not only has the benefit of having a good soccer program, but is also close to home and close to skiing opportunities—skiing is a favorite hobby.
It was easy for Marycate London to select a favorite highlight of her time with the Oxford field hockey team: Oxford reached district playoffs and won in the first round, defeating Spring-Ford.
London, who mainly plays the mid-fielder position, was named Oxford's Rookie of the Year as a freshman, and was a varsity player for two seasons. She credited her success to a willingness to work hard.
“I'm always trying to improve my game,” she explained.
Next, London is going to be playing field hockey for Lock Haven University. She said that she likes the coaching staff at Lock Haven, which includes head coach Pat Rudy and assistant coach Anna Rogers.
Luke Rettig and Hunter Hall will be teammates on Oxford's baseball team in the spring of 2018.
Hall, a four-year varsity player for the Hornets, is heading to West Chester University to play for an accomplished team that won the NCAA Division II championship in 2017.
“It's exciting to have a chance to play for and contribute to a very good team,” Hall explained.
Hall played a lot of first base and third base for Oxford. He said that one of his favorite memories playing for Oxford came when the team took on Bayard Rustin and its star pitcher, Chris McMahon. McMahon was being heavily recruited—he eventually signed to pitch for Miami—and there were numerous scouts in attendance at the game.
“The whole atmosphere that day was really fun,” Hall said. He went 1-for-3 against McMahon in the game, an illustration that he can hit against even the league's best pitchers.
Hall said that he's looking forward to his senior season, and being one of the leading hitters in the district for the Hornets.
A big addition for the 2018 Hornets baseball team will be Rettig, who transferred from the Wilmington Christian School to Oxford for his senior year.
“I'm looking forward to playing here,” said Rettig.
At Wilmington Christian School, Rettig was a pitcher and played some first base. During his sophomore year, the team made the state tournament for the first time in school history, which ranks as a favorite highlight so far. He's a lefthanded pitcher with the ability to locate his pitches and move the ball around. A lifelong baseball fan, he enjoys the challenge of battling against the hitter.
He is going to play baseball for Lehigh University, and is looking forward to the challenge of competing at the collegiate level.
“I'm really looking forward to it,” Rettig said. “The team is good, and I really like the coaches.”
Riley Hollenbach, a resident of Nottingham, attends the Avon Grove Charter School, and plays field hockey and lacrosse on Oxford teams.
She was a key contributor for both teams, and was a captain on the lacrosse team. She will be heading to Long Island University-Brooklyn to compete in the fall of 2018.
During Hollenbach's freshman year, she was a part of Oxford lacrosse's first season and helped the team to its first win. She made the varsity squad during her sophomore, junior, and senior seasons, and was a consistent leader on defense.
“Defense is what wins games for you,” said Oxford lacrosse coach Chrissy Reinard. “Riley was a real leader on the field for us.”
Hollenbach also played on the Looney's Lacrosse Club team out of Belair, Md., developing an aggressive style of defense that works well. Hollenbach said that she really enjoyed playing for the Oxford teams.
“I made a lot of good friends here,” she said.
Logan Wolfe is heading to Messiah College where she will continue her volleyball career.
She was a middle hitter for Oxford, and was named the team's MVP during her sophomore, junior, and senior seasons.
Wolfe said that one of her favorite moments came in a victory over Solanco during her senior season. She was also proud of her progress as a player during her four seasons playing for Oxford. She had 33 kills as a freshman, and by her senior season she posted 179 kills. She is looking forward to competing at the collegiate level for Messiah College, and continuing to improve her volleyball game.
“I really loved the campus and I liked the coaches. It was definitely the right choice for me,” she said.
Oxford Area High School athletic director Michael Price said that the seven athletes who were honored at the signing are very dedicated to their sports, and are also dedicated to academics.
“This whole group of student-athletes represented Oxford in a positive manner,” Price said. “The best part is they excel academically, as well as in competition. The common theme among all seven of them is their passion for their sports. All of our programs are better because they are a part of them. We couldn’t be prouder of this group, and we look forward to following them at the next level.”