Avon High School holds ceremony to celebrate student athletes

MORNING JOURNAL FILE PHOTO Avon’s Ross Douglas, front, and 11 others made it official on Wednesday to continue their sports careers at the next level.

Seven football players, three soccer players and two runners …

Yep, it was just another signing day for Avon High School athletes, who on Wednesday followed in the footsteps of so many other Eagles that have went on to college to continue to academic and athletic careers.

Add to that list football players Ross Douglas (University of Michigan), Ralph Smith III (Ball State University), Alex Kelly (Grand Valley State University), David Zeh (West Virginia Wesleyan), Tim Von Salter (Arizona Western), Michael Pulice (West Virginia University) and Jeremiah Burris (Bryant University), soccer players Emilie Wetzig (Edinboro University), Nicole Chabot (Edinboro University), Kayla Wysocki (Gannon University) and cross country/track and field athletes Linda Morales (Ashland University) and Blake Pecoraro (Wooster College).

The Avon Athletic Department held a ceremony Wednesday morning in the AHS auditorium to honor and recognize its seniors.

“It’s bittersweet,” said Mike Elder, who’s coached the Avon football team for the past six years. “I’m going to miss every one of those kids. I’m a coach who believes in relationships and we treat the football program as an extended family … you get extremely close to those kids, you’ve been through the good and the bad with them and you’ve faced a lot of adversity together.

“I’m very proud of them and I’m excited for them, but we’re certainly going to miss them.”

Douglas, a four-year letter winner who will go down as one of the most decorated football players in program history, wasn’t in attendance due to him enrolling early at Michigan.

Although he couldn’t physically be there, the ceremony included a projection screen and Douglas was able to join in after a class.

On his Twitter page Douglas tweeted, “Face timing into avon high school around 10:30 for signing day!”

“He made himself available which we really appreciated,” Elder said. “He congratulated all the athletes that were up on the stage. He’s just a humble young man who gets the team concept and clearly he wanted to still be a part of the day even though he was already up at Michigan. To me, I’m very proud of him for that.”

Douglas is Avon’s all-time leader in total touchdowns (52), points (312), rushing touchdowns (50) and second all-time in rushing yards (3,362). He will play corner for the Wolverines.

While Elder has been through his share of signing days at Avon, the experience was new for girls soccer coach Danie Schnaufer.

“It was pretty cool because it was my first signing as a head coach that I got to experience,” Schnaufer said. “It brought back a lot of positive memories for me and made me just so happy for (Emilie, Nicole and Kayla) because I know how I felt when I was in that situation.

“Nicole brings this strong competitiveness to our program and is just kind of a natural leader through her attitude and behavior, Kayla Wysocki is one of the hardest working players I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with, and Emilie Wetzig has just evolved into such a great leader and defensive player for our team.”

@PaulBarney18

Last Updated: 2/6/2013 10:04:39 PM EST

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