8 Granville student-athletes pledge to continue their careers on Signing Day

8 Granville student-athletes pledge to continue their careers on Signing Day

Andrew Hoben

BY ANDY HOBEN (‘20)

 

National Signing Day is an event where student athletes across the nation officially sign their letter of intent to play sports in college. This year, Granville has a particularly large number – 8 to be exact – of students signing on to continue their athletic careers at the schools in which they have committed. These are the Blue Ace players that are taking their talents to the collegiate level.

Katie Cox – Bowling Green State University Soccer

The Cox family has had a storied run in the Granville girls’ soccer programs, with older sister Nikki breaking the county record for goals in a career; however, younger sister Katie has had arguably an equally dominant run in the 3 years since the elder Cox’s departure. Katie, a 3-time league and district player of the year and an all-Ohioan as a midfielder, has been the driving force in an Aces attack that has won 4 straight league titles and gone on Final Four runs in 2 of her 4 years.

Katie has also played for high-achieving club team Ohio Premier, which allowed her to gain exposure and attract interest from Division 1 programs, including Bowling Green State University where her sister Nikki is currently playing. The program’s recent success as well as her family connection made the college search process a simple one for Katie, and she committed during her junior year.

Even with all of the accolades and college interest, Katie’s favorite memories were made not on the field, but in the company of her teammates, as she explains that her most memorable moment was “almost dying multiple times on the bus ride home from away games.”

While Katie is certainly not looking to continue her streak of encountering trouble with transportation in Bowling Green, she will indeed be looking to add to her, and her family’s, run of success on the pitch.

Alyssa Christian – Ohio University Running

The Granville Blue Aces girls’ running program, whether it be cross country, indoor track, or outdoor track, has perennially been among the best in the state, and recently this success can be attributed in large part to the exploits of Alyssa Christian. Christian, a 3 time all-region selection in cross country and an all-American performer in track, attracted the attention of many Division 1 schools based on her lengthy accolade list in distance events, and recently finalized her decision by choosing to continue her running career at Ohio University.

For Christian, being a college athlete has always been one of her goals. “Getting to the college level was one of the challenges that drove me the most, and I have always considered myself a competitive person”, Christian said.

Christian will look to close out her prolific career at Granville in both the indoor and outdoor track seasons before heading to Athens to run for the Bobcats.

Ally Gilliam – Clarion University Softball

Ally Gilliam, according to coach Rae Stuart, has been a leader of the Granville softball team since before her junior year, when she began organizing workouts and team building activities that would eventually lead to the Blue Aces making it all the way to the regional finals. This type of success has been common for the Aces softball program as of late, with a district title coming in 2016 during Gilliam’s freshman year and a Division 3 state title coming the year before the 2019 class got into high school; however, with an underclassman-heavy team this past season, it took the leadership of upperclassman such as Gilliam to take the team back deep into the playoffs.

Gilliam decided that she wanted to continue this success in high school to the college ranks, and recently committed to Division 2 Clarion University in Pennsylvania. Gilliam made Clarion her home for the next 4 years because she “liked the atmosphere of the team and loved the campus.”

Gilliam will look to lead her young Blue Ace squad on another long playoff run as a senior this spring.

Addison Hoover – Miami University Throwing

Before her sophomore year, Addison Hoover had never even tried out for track and field, focusing on other sports such as volleyball and soccer instead. However, track coach Jim Green, impressed by her strength and athleticism seen on the soccer field, asked her to try out of the field event known as the hammer throw, and by the spring of 2018 she had become a state-placer in the event.

After her unlikely rise in the throwing-world, college coaches, many of whom from high Division 1 programs, came calling in attempts to attract Hoover and her throwing prowess to their program; however, she ultimately decided to stay close to home and throw for the Miami Redhawks track and field team.

The whirlwind process culminated in one single moment for Hoover: “When I went to the state meet last March and made it on the podium, that’s when I knew I wanted to throw in college.” Hoover, who was also the starting goalie for the Blue Aces soccer team the last two seasons, will close out her high school career in both the indoor and outdoor track seasons before moving on to Oxford.

Chloë Mulford – The Ohio State University Rowing

Chloë Mulford’s signing day experience was, in large part, significantly different than the other signees from Granville. Mulford is a basketball player by trade, garnering first team all-league accolades as a junior, and also has a background in cross country and lacrosse; in fact, she heavily pursued a future in college basketball and most likely would have continued to pursue that route if not for an 11th-hour opportunity that arose that changed everything.

After submitting a precursory questionnaire to the rowing program at Ohio State at the suggestion of her father, Mulford, who had never rowed before, was quickly contacted by the coach of the novice team at OSU and, soon after, was offered a spot on the team. Mulford decided this was an offer she could not pass up, and committed to the program a short time later.

Though she had to reconcile with the fact that her basketball career would (most likely) come to an end, Mulford thinks that the skills she developed on the court as well as in her other sports will ultimately make her pivot to rowing an easy transition. “Similarly to basketball, rowing requires a lot of communication and strong reliance on teammates, and I believe that cross country will greatly contribute as well because I have learned a lot of mental and physical endurance.”

Mulford will continue to develop her rowing skills while also playing basketball and lacrosse as she finishes her career at Granville, then will make the short trip to Columbus to start her journey as a Buckeye rower.

Jennifer Rush – Western Kentucky University Volleyball

The Granville girls’ volleyball team has had a run of success recently on the backs of two 4 year letterwinners, one of which being Western Kentucky signee Jennifer Rush. While the other key cog, Erin Shomaker, has been among the leaders in the state in hitting percentage and kills during her career, Rush has not been far behind, as her .498 hitting rate ranks in the top 10 in the entire state, and her ability to improve her overall game has, according to coach Todd Parkison, made it so that she is now “a six-rotation player, and never comes off the court.”

Rush gained attention from Division 1 schools from her strong performances both for Granville and for club team TCA Ohio, which lead to the Western Kentucky offering her a scholarship, and for her to ultimately commit to their program.

For Rush, this was an easy decision: “I wasn’t ready to give up what I loved doing,” Rush said. “It has been my dream since I was little, and luckily I found a school that fit me perfectly.”

Rush will be able to fulfill that dream next fall when she begins her career with the Hilltoppers.

Erin Shomaker – Florida Gulf Coast University Volleyball

Erin Shomaker has been hard to stop in whatever she has done during her athletic career. In fact, she broke the all-time school career record for blocks during her lone year playing basketball for the Blue Aces; however, she ended up discontinuing her basketball career after that dominant freshman season to focus on her true love of volleyball.

Shomaker has not only garnered statewide recognition for her accomplishments, but national attention as well: according to MaxPreps.com, Shomaker’s .659 hitting percentage is number one in the country.

Though Shomaker attracted attention from a wide variety of large schools as a result of her long frame and dominant hitting skills, she knew Florida Gulf Coast was home as soon as she stepped foot on campus. “I really wanted to go south, and their campus is beautiful”, Shomaker said. “They have a great volleyball program and even better academic opportunities.”

Shomaker, who holds nearly every school and league record for her hitting, will take her talents south and bolster the Eagles’ front row for the next 4 years.

Nate Stone – Miami University Baseball

Nate Stone, an outfielder and occasional pitcher, has been a staple of the middle of the Blue Aces lineup since his freshman year. A power-hitting lefty, Stone garnered significant interest from the Redhawks during his sophomore year when he attended one of their camps, which lead to Miami coaches closely following him and attending his games that summer. Stone was fortunate enough to be offered a spot on the team, and it did not take him long to take them up on the offer and commit, as he did so before his junior year even began.

Stone, who has a family connection at Miami as his sister, Abby, is a member of the swimming team, says it really clicked when he visited campus: “I fell in love with not only the school, but also the baseball program and their great facilities.”

Stone was second-team all-Ohio as a junior, and is looking to lead the Aces to a successful season as a senior this spring.