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Class A Scholar-Athlete Award Scholarship Recipients Announced

Contact:  John Johnson or Andy Frushour 
517.332.5046 or media@mhsaa.com

EAST LANSING, Mich.  – Feb. 23 – 
The Michigan High School Athletic Association has selected 14 students from Class A schools to receive college scholarships through its Scholar-Athlete Award program. 

Farm Bureau Insurance, in its 21st year of sponsoring the award, will give a $1,000 college scholarship to 32 individuals who represent their member school in at least one sport in which the Association sponsors a post-season tournament.  The first 30 scholarships are awarded proportionately by school classification and the number of student-athletes involved in those classes; and there are two at-large honorees which can come from any classification.

Each of the scholarship recipients will be honored at halftime ceremonies of the Class C Boys Basketball final game at the Breslin Student Events Center in East Lansing on March 27. Commemorative medallions will be given to other finalists in recognition of their accomplishments.

The Class A Scholar-Athlete Award honorees are:  Meredith Leigh Aja, Traverse City Central; Ariel Dempsey, Jenison; Nathaniel Ellsworth, Saginaw Heritage; Kelly Hahn, Plymouth; Rikki Jarvis, Oxford; Christopher Luoma, Okemos; Jordan Macocha, Oxford; Calley Murphy, Birmingham Seaholm; Katherine Pavelich, Flint Kearsley; Erin Elizabeth Riley, Battle Creek Lakeview; Jonathan Michael Roberts, Grosse Pointe South; Steven Saliga, Romeo; Alex Van Tiem, Detroit U-D Jesuit; and Matthew VanZytveld, Grand Haven.

Overviews of the scholarship recipients of the Class A Scholar-Athlete Award follow. A quote from each recipient's essay is also included:

Meredith Leigh Aja, Traverse City Central. Four-year letterwinner in volleyball, three in basketball and two in softball. Two-year captain in volleyball and one year in softball. All-conference performer in volleyball all four years and all-region dream team the past two. High Academic Achievement Award three times in all three sports. MVP of softball team sophomore year and all-conference junior year. Student council member all four years and President her senior year. Elected as the Student Athlete Leadership Representative. 2007 Detroit Free Press Letter to the Editor Contest award winner. Won the DAR Excellency Award for Columbus Essay Contest. Plans to study psychology/neuroscience at Hope College.

Essay Quote“Sportsmanship teaches valuable lessons that are useful beyond sports, and I hope that all of my teammates use these life lessons in their future.”

Ariel Dempsey, Jenison. Three-year letterwinner in cross country and track & field, and one in tennis. Set two school records and was MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 1 Finals qualifier in the 800-meter run. Was the Junior Olympic Regional Champion and set Champion of Champions meet record. Earned conference and regional championships as No. 3 Singles in tennis. Raised $2,000 for Mel Trotter Missions. Earned Making a Difference Award from Jenison School Board. Won first place in State Anatomy and Solar System events. Has received 14 Regional Science Olympiad Medals. Wrote three essays that are published on TeenInk. Plans to study pre-med at the University of Michigan.

Essay Quote – “Sportsmanship is a worthy goal beyond competition and performance. There is a special kinship between people who share a love for sports. An instant bond forms between two strangers.”

Nathaniel Ellsworth, Saginaw Heritage.  Four-year letterwinner in cross country and three in track & field. Three time all-league, all-region in cross country as well as academic all-state. Saginaw Valley League MVP and team captain in senior season. Cross country team reached MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 1 Finals three times with a runner-up finish in 2008.  Ran on school and area record-setting 3,200-meter relay team, which finished fifth at the  2009 MHSAA L.P. Division 1 Finals. Four-year member of debate team, student assembly, class council and three-year member of National Honor Society. Debate team captain as a senior and league team champion as a junior. Plans to attend the James Madison College at Michigan State University to study pre-law.

Essay Quote – “Sportsmanship is worth the effort. Taking the easy way out by succumbing to the societal pressures of creating paper tigers out of the opposing team is not only disadvantageous toward the sport itself, but it fosters a negative attitude outside of the sport.”

Kelly Hahn, Plymouth. Earned four letters in cross country and three in track & field.  Owns five school records, three individually in track, one relay and one in cross country. All-state in 3,200-meter run as well as being all-conference and all-division in track. Two-time scholar-athlete for cross country. Cross country captain and earned Most Valuable Distance Runner. President of National Honor Society. Treasurer of student congress and student leader of Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Has performed over 270 hours of community service. Relay for life organizer as well as participant for multiple years. Plans to attend the University of Michigan to study sports management.

Essay Quote – “Sportsmanship is about putting aside one’s emotions, whether in defeat or in celebration, to congratulate other athletes for their efforts. In most cases, this involves courage on the athlete’s behalf as she is normally venturing outside her comfort zone.”

Rikki Jarvis, Oxford. Three-year letterwinner in track and field, two in both basketball and swimming & diving. Scholar-athlete award winner in each sport. Captain during her senior swimming campaign. Awarded most dedicated and Blue & Gold Award for good sportsmanship. Has been treasurer, vice president and president in her four years on student council. Named Fundraiser Committee Chairman in her time in National Honor Society. State qualifier in “Business & Financial” for DECA. Was the runner-up for the DAR Good Citizen Award. Plans to attend Michigan State University for public relations and advertising.

Essay Quote – “Sportsmanship is not only a trait shown to the opposing team, but on the home court as well. It’s brought friends, a sense of character, and has also taught me how to represent myself and my school.”

Christopher Luoma, Okemos.  Earned three letters each in hockey and golf. Team captain of both sports as a junior and senior. Academic all-conference in both sports in 2008 and 2009. Lansing State Journal Hockey Dream Team as a junior. Qualified for the 2009 MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 1 Golf Finals as an individual. Served as a volunteer hockey coach and youth group member for the last four years. Attended mission trips to Pennsylvania and New Orleans. Co-founded Athletes for Adam at Okemos High School to commemorate the life of a fallen classmate. Plans to attend the University of Michigan to study business administration.

Essay Quote – “Rules are known for being stringent, whereas sportsmanship is a choice to strive for the best interest of everyone involved. Understanding this difference is vital if one is to recognize the value of sportsmanship in educational athletics.”

Jordan Macocha, Oxford.  Two-year letterwinner in both basketball and baseball. Team captain of baseball team junior and senior seasons. Four-year Flint Metro League Scholar-Athlete. Member of the National Honor Society. Has been a group leader in football, basketball and baseball camps in his four years. Wrote and published a book and took second place in the National Invention Contest. Was awarded Prudential Spirit of Community Service Award as a senior. Plans to attend the University of Michigan to study kinesiology.

Essay Quote – “Sportsmanship is doing the little things for others whether they are your teammates, opponents, friends or foes. Sportsmanship can be as simple as a postgame handshake, returning an opponent’s dropped gloves or acknowledging your opponent on a good play.”

Calley Murphy, Birmingham Seaholm.  Letterwinner four times in swimming & diving and three in water polo. Earned all-state honors all four years and earned All-American as a freshman in swimming. Captained the 2009 swim team as well as earning the OAA Scholar-Athlete Award. In 2008, earned all-area and all-league. Academic All-American for the Michigan Water Polo Association. National Merit Scholar and Michigan Mathematics competition finalist. Current president of the Interact Community Service Club. Earned Bausch and Lomb Honorary Science Award and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Medal Award. Will be attending MIT in the fall to swim and study chemical engineering.

Essay Quote – “I believe respect and awareness are the keys to good sportsmanship: respect for your teammates, your competitors, your coaches, your officials, your sport and yourself.”

Katherine Pavelich, Flint Kearsley. Three-year letterwinner in basketball and track & field, two in cross country and one in volleyball. Varsity basketball and cross country team MVP in 2008-09. Owns three school records in cross country as well as being a MHSAA Finals qualifier in 2008. Wendy’s High School Heisman School Winner 2009-10. Multiple all-conference scholar-athlete awards in all three sports. Awarded the Burton News Winter Sports Standout in 2009. Class president the past three years. Takes multiple honor courses and ranks first in her class in academics. The DAR Good Citizen school winner. Plans to attend the University of Michigan to study education.

Essay Quote – “You must practice it mentally and physically in all aspects of your life so that it becomes a habit. Once it becomes a habit, it becomes a lifestyle, something you always have with you. That’s why one event of good sportsmanship doesn’t stand out to me. It’s the little acts of kindness and encouragement I’ve observed and practiced that have taught me to lead a lifestyle of good sportsmanship.”

Erin Elizabeth Riley, Battle Creek Lakeview. Four-year letterwinner in basketball, and three in softball and volleyball. Voted team captain in all three sports. Earned all-state academic accolades from 2007-09 in volleyball. All-region and all-city in her junior and senior seasons of volleyball. Multiple all-city awards for basketball and softball. Guided all three teams to conference championships. Member of National Honor Society the past three years. Yearbook editor in junior and senior year. Participated in People to People Sports. Part of Ambassador Program in the Netherlands. Hopes to have a career in accounting or as a physician’s assistant.

Essay Quote – “Working together as a team and respecting your opponents win or lose, tells everything about sportsmanship and your character more so than any final score of the game.”

Jonathan Michael Roberts, Grosse Pointe South.  Three-year letter winner in track & field, and two in football and basketball.  First-team All-MAC Blue in 2009.  Member of the National Honor Society junior and senior year.  Participant in relay for life freshman, sophomore and junior years.  Plans to attend the University of Michigan and study biochemistry.

Essay Quote -  “Whenever a player gets injured I always make sure to find out their name and include them in a special prayer.  There are things more important than the game.”

Steven Saliga, Romeo. Has lettered three times in track & field and two each in basketball and soccer. Has been a team captain in all sports his senior season. Earned most improved player in varsity basketball in 2009. All-district soccer player in 2009, as well as gaining the track & field MAC Good Sportsmanship Award. Served as a volunteer tutor for grades 6-12. First-place finisher in Michigan Industrial & Technology Education Society Competition in 2009. Earned the Divisional Grand Award for Excellence in MITES Craftsmanship Electrical Level in 2009. Plans on attending Michigan Technological University to study biomechanical engineering.

Essay Quote - “True sportsmanship is the ability to play the game your hardest against anyone and still respect each other no matter what the outcome.”

Alex Van Tiem, Detroit U-D Jesuit. Three-year letterwinner in ice hockey and lacrosse, and earned one letter in soccer. Earned first-team all-state accolades in lacrosse sophomore and junior seasons. Second-team all-state honors in sophomore hockey campaign. Team captain in hockey as a senior. Four-time winner of U-D Scholar Athlete Award and U-D Outstanding Service Award. MHSAA Student Advisory Council member as a junior and senior. Mission trip member and Kairos Four-Day Retreat Leader. Has chaired, organized and participated in over 50 service events. Also a Michigan Honors Society Member. Plans to study entrepreneurship business.

Essay Quote – “Sportsmanship in educational athletics allows for scholar athletes to progress athletically and morally. Respect is of utmost importance in all educational athletics.”

Matthew VanZytveld, Grand Haven. Two-year letterwinner in soccer and basketball, one letter in tennis. Earend second-team all-state honors as a senior and third-team all-state as a junior in soccer. Team offensive MVP as a senior and set a school record for single-season assists in junior campaign. Volunteered over 500 hours during high school. Member of kindergarten mentoring program as well as mentoring program for autistic students. Served four years as a student senate representative and three years in National Honor Society and Student Ambassador Club Member. Plans to attend Hope College to study pre-med.

Essay Quote – “In order to benefit from participation in athletics, one must first learn to respect the values of the game and how important they are to competition in sports. In athletics, mutual respect and compassion are expressed through sportsmanship.”

Other Class A girls finalists for the Scholar-Athlete Award were:  Lauren Lynn Anderson, Grand Rapids Christian; Lisa Marie Bender, Birmingham Seaholm; Jenna Birch, Howell; Dana Briggs, Muskegon Mona Shores; Stephanie Cuniberti, Macomb Dakota; Kimberly Dinh, Midland Dow; Lisa A. Galasso, Lake Orion; Haley Hildebrandt, Ionia; Brianna Kovan, Okemos; Nicole Krajewski, Battle Creek Lakeview; Ainsley McCallister, Ann Arbor Huron; Emily McKay, Utica Ford; Shannon Niznik, Livonia Franklin; Katherine Steen, Grosse Pointe South; Anna VanEgmond, Warren Regina; Carolyn Vlach, Traverse City West; and Alycen Wiacek, Rochester.

Other Class A boys finalists for the Scholar-Athlete Award were:  Joseph Roland Adamson, Battle Creek Lakeview; Quaid Anderson, East Kentwood; Michael Atchoo, Troy; Alex Beckwith, Midland Dow; Adam Bedell, Livonia Churchill; Joel Betts, Grand Rapids Christian; Trevor Black, Swartz Creek; Shane Brotherton, Flushing; Phillip Bunge, Midland Dow; Benjamin D. Chodos, Hartland; Joshua D. Corteville, Lowell; Mitchell Kilbourn, Owosso; Nathan Kalinowski, Garden City; Nicholas Lewin, Walled Lake Western; Robert Montgomery, Grosse Pointe South; David S. Moore, Holland; and Aaron E Mulholland, Davison.
 
Previously announced were the scholarship recipients in Classes B, C and D:  The Class B Scholar-Athlete Award honorees are:  Alexandra Annese, Whitehall; Natalia Collins, Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard; Daniel Hartsig, Three Rivers; Frank Liesman, Lansing Catholic; Kari Paine, Manistee; Andrew Sauser, Caro; Emily Tjapkes, Shelby; and Joseph Robert White II, Jackson Lumen Christi.

The Class C Scholar-Athlete Award honorees are:  Stephanie N. Johnson, Kalamazoo Hackett;  Andrew Kangas, Norway; Abbey Kelto, Munising; Ji-Hoon Min, Gwinn; Benjamin J. Schell, Traverse City St. Francis; and Kayley Sopel, Ithaca. 

The Class D Scholar-Athlete Award scholarship recipients are:  Elizabeth Brady, Hillsdale Academy; Kelly Mikaye David, Beal City; Tyler Steven Root, Brimley; and Jacob Smitley, Athens.

Students applying for the Scholar-Athlete Award must be carrying at least a 3.5 (on a 4.0 scale) grade-point average, and have previously won a letter in a varsity sport in which the Michigan High School Athletic Association sponsors a postseason tournament. Other requirements for the applicants were to show active participation in other school and community activities and produce an essay on the importance of sportsmanship in educational athletics.

Farm Bureau Insurance, one of Michigan's major insurers, has a statewide force of 450 agents serving more than 450,000 Michigan policyholders. Besides providing life, home auto, farm, business and retirement insurance, the company also sponsors lifesaving, real-time Doppler weather tracking systems in several Michigan communities.

The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by over 1,600 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition.  No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools.  Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract approximately 1.6 million spectators each year.

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