The Next Level
Easton High celebrates college-bound athletes
EASTON — Warriors girls’ head lacrosse coach Robert Smith learned some new lingo such as “throwing shade” and “swag” this year from his draw-control star Lexi McDaniel. For more than a dozen Easton High graduates, they’ll have new coaches to educate for the next four years. They’ll also, no doubt, learn a few things themselves.
The student athletes were recognized Friday afternoon for their athletic contributions during their high school careers, which will continue at the post-secondar y level throughout the East Coast. Teammates, coaches, administrators, family, and friends gathered to acknowledge their achievements and to offer best wishes for continued success in a signing ceremony led by athletic director Kurisha Hoffman.
Hoffman read what each player had written on a short form and provided slides of the players in action as coaches gave a short talk (excerpted below) about each student athlete.
HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
Nick Covey will play golf at Savannah College of Art and Design with an academic interest in film. His highlights included winning the North Bayside championship as a
team his freshman year and putting up the lowest scoring average at the Bayside Championships his senior year. He wrote he was thankful for his opportunities, his supportive family, people he met in golf, and the chance to compete in a sport he likes.
Easton jead golf coach Paul Gancasz said, “For four years Nick has given me the opportunities to win, to place — he’d win almost every tournament — and not only that, he taught me a lot about coaching golf and things like that. He’d say, ‘Ah, coach, you’re doing it the wrong way, or maybe you should do it this way.’ And I was like, ‘Hey, Nick, that’s great, I appreciate that.’ … I am super excited for him. I think this kid has what it takes to play golf at the next level.”
Also attending SCAD, studying Fashion Marketing, will be Tatum Crouch, who will play lacrosse. She wrote her high-school highlights included beating Queen Anne’s in field hockey and lacrosse her senior year and winning the Bull Roast game all four years (a common theme among lacrosse players). She thanked her parents for their support and her coaches for making her a better athlete.
Smith acknowledged Crouch’s perseverance overcoming injuries, including an ACL injury not long before the spring season: “I think at that point there was maybe 30 seconds where Tatum said, ‘Why me?’, and then as soon as that 30 seconds was over, she was thinking, ‘How can I get back, how can I help my team, how can I play in college, how quickly can I recover?’ So I just have a lot of respect for somebody who’s willing to work that hard knowing that her senior season’s probably not going to be there, but how hard she worked to get back, to play in college, to be at practice and support her teammates. I think that says a lot about her.”
Claire Dowd will compete in cross country and track and field at Lynchburg (Va.) College where she will focus her studies on biology and chemistr y in pursuit of a veterinarian career. Her highlights were qualifying for the state championships her freshman and sophomore years in cross country and her junior year in track. She expressed appreciation for her family and friends.
“She really developed in her junior year in running because she embraced doing a lot more work,” coach Rob Drysdale said. “And that’s what running is — it’s a training sport, putting in the time and the miles. It really helped her get better. She’s going to have to do the same thing to get into vet school, so it all kind of comes together for her.”
Peyton Elzey will study a pre-pharmacy curriculum and play softball for Campbell (N.C.) University. She listed her highlights as going to the state tournament her freshman year and “all of the crazy things the girls and I took on this past season!!” She wrote she is thankful for her coaches and friends for pushing her and for her parents for helping her every step along the way.
“She definitely has a strong head on her shoulders, has her own mind, but you will never find someone who’s more devoted to the game than she is,” head softball coach Jen Powell said. “I remember days when she came in for practice and she said, ‘Yeah, I hit for about an hour last night in my basement.’ Who does that? … She is a monster. She is about 5 foot; she’s plays like she’s seven.”
Also headed to Campbell is McDaniel, who will play lacrosse and major in Kinesiology. Her highlights included the team’s Bull Roast wins, defeating Queen Anne’s this year, and putting up a “great fight against Kent Island.” She thanked her coaches for pushing her and her parents and grandparents.
“Lex is definitely the most interesting player I’ve coached and certainly one that I’ll never forget,” coach Smith said. “On an off the field, her attitude, good most of the time, a little bit of chippiness, but that’s what made her such a great player. On the field she was just an absolute beast — 35 goals, 18 assists. The big number for her was 82 draw controls. I think it was about 67 percent of the time, when you took the draw, we won it. Whether you won it yourself or it went to one of your teammates, that’s just an unheard-of percentage.”
Ryan Farr will play baseball for Chesapeake College and has a degree interest in sports management. His highlights include making the all-state team his junior year and the MSABC Classic game two years in a row. He acknowledged support from coaches, family, and teammates “for always having my back.”
“Everything offensively ran through Ryan,” said baseball assistant Gancasz, filling in for head coach Albert Pritchett. “He was the number-one hitter ninthgrade year, 10th, 11th … it got to be where opposing teams did not want to pitch to him because he would hurt ‘em. He was that good.”
Former head football coach Matt Griffith said his following three football players all shared one common theme: “All three of them had to fight through an extreme amount of adversity for all different reasons. Not only were they able to fight through it, they were able to be successful their senior year, and for that I applaud their dedication, mental and physical toughness, and being able to fight through very difficult times throughout the year.”
Justin Fenwick is headed to Frostburg State, where he will play football. His highlights include playing in the Maryland Crab Bowl, the Eastern Shore Senior Bowl, and receiving first-team allconference selections for defensive line his junior and seniors years. He wrote he was thankful for his “football family and his real family for always being with me every step of the way through the ups and the downs.”
Mason Ledford will take his football talents to Stevenson University where he will study Athletic Psychology. He appreciated the opportunity to build “bonds with my brothers throughout these four years while playing two sports I love,” and he thanked his friends, coaches, and family for their support.
Brandon Booze will play football at Stevenson University where he’ll study criminal justice. His high school highlights were ser ving as a team captain, being selected as an All-Bayside wide receiver, and winning the Unsung Hero Award. He expressed gratitude for his teammates, the program, friends, and family.
Jordan Friedman will swim for Mt. St. Mary’s and will focus her studies on biology and art. She is a twotime state champion in the 200-yard individual medley.
“She has numerous records for our high school swim team,” head swim coach Kara Erskine said. “Knowing her for four years, Coach (Mary) Gibson and I, around us she’s very quiet and shy, but when it comes to the meets and competition, once she steps on the block, it’s game on. She’s very serious and not only does she take her swimming seriously but her academics as well.”
Elizabeth Hostetter, who was not in attendance, will swim for Randolph-Macon (Va.) College with a degree interest in nursing. Her highlights included qualifying for the state championships all four years. She expressed thankfulness for her coaches and all that they have taught her.
Jordan Nilsen will study Elementary Education and play lacrosse for Lynchburg. Her highlights were winning the Bull Roast games, beating Queen Anne’s, and playing with her friends. She acknowledged the efforts of her parents and coaches for encouraging her to do her best.
“Some things when I met Jordan that really stuck out for me were just her willingness to work hard and be a teammate,” Smith said. “Last year, Jordan played out of position, for her I believe on defense, and she did that because that’s what the team needed her to do. She didn’t turn around and complain and ask me why, why, why? She just did what the team needed and the team got better because of it.”
Ellie Roser will study Health Science and play lacrosse for Furman (S.C.) University. She also listed a highlight as winning four Bull Roast games and “getting to play with my best friends,” and she wrote she is thankful for the support she received from family and friends.
Coach Smith said Roser was probably the leading goal scorer in school histor y. No one seemed sure of that, including Roser.
“That’s a real good indication of Ellie’s attitude on and off the field,” Smith said. “It’s not about her. Although she does score a lot, she assists a lot, she has the ball on her stick a lot, it’s not about her, it’s about the team. … This year you had 50 goals, 26 assists, and 73 draw controls, which I can’t imagine statistics like that for anybody else in the Bayside Conference. … Ellie’s somebody who does everything well. She does ever ything to the best of her ability. She makes her teammates better. She doesn’t care about individual accolades. She’s the first one to speak up when something needs done. She’s just an all-around great player and great kid. … I know as a coach you’re supposed to not have favorites, I don’t care, you’re my favorite player.”
Riley Scott is headed to Virginia Commonwealth University to play field hockey and study Health Sciences and Pre-Dentistry. Her highlights were beating Queen Anne’s in field hockey and earning firstteam All-State honors. She thanked her friends, family, coaches, and teammates for their love and support.
“Her work ethic and her enthusiasm for the game has always impressed me,” head field hockey coach Debbie McQuaid said. “She’s a real fun player to watch. You notice her on the field. Her opponents fear her, yet she’s mild and meek and soft-spoken in the hallways of Easton High, but she’s a fierce competitor on the field. … She’s going to be missed by all of her teammates and she has set the tone for Easton High School field hockey.”
Student-athletes that will compete at the post-secondary level open gifts from the school in appreciation for their contributions to Easton High during their high-school careers, Friday afternoon in the school’s media center.