Great student-athletes will always have more than their fair share of options after their high school days are finished.
And for 18 exceptionally hard-working student-athletes in Scioto County, their options got an added boost in November as 10 girls and eight boys from 10 different high schools in Scioto County were honored with a Wendy’s High School Heisman as winners from their schools.
For Justin “Juice” Schmidt, President and Franchisee of Schmidt Family Restaurants, each of the 18 student-athletes that were honored inside Huntington, W. Va.’s Big Sandy Superstore Arena are the epitome of what high school athletics, and sports, in general, should be all about.
“When you say the word Heisman, most people think about the Heisman Trophy, which just goes to the best football player in college,” Schmidt said. “The Wendy’s High School Heisman, however, goes to a student-athlete who performs strongly in both the classroom and on the football field. You have to have a 3.0, you have to participate in at least two varsity sports, and you also have to be a proven leader in your community. It’s truly about doing it in the classroom, on the ball field, and in the community. Each of the folks who were honored are very well-rounded, and any time that we can create a platform for them to get some recognition, we’re going to do that 100 percent of the time.”
And each of the athletes who were ultimately chosen as their school’s winner for the Wendy’s High School Heisman certainly have that pedigree. Each of the 18 students that were selected as Wendy’s High School Heisman winners for the participating schools are involved in a student-athletic club of some kind, including the National Honor Society, Key Club, and Northwest High School’s Top20 club, among other academic endeavors.
“I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that some of your better athletes excel in the classroom, because it takes work,” Schmidt said. “You don’t wake up and just become a really good football or basketball player, and you don’t just wake up being a good student. It’s all about work ethic and what you put into it, and in today’s society, we’ve created entitlement to a lot of people. They believe that things should be given to them. I believe that our Wendy’s High School Heisman winners don’t have a bit of entitlement to them because they go out and work at it, not only in the classroom but in the weight room and at practice. They’re just well-rounded kids.”
In addition to their academic exploits, four of the 18 winners — Minford’s Erin Daniels, Notre Dame’s Lexi Smith, South Webster’s Ellie Jo Johnson, and Wheelersburg’s Ellie Ruby — have already signed to play a college sport during the winter signing period.
Johnson, an All-Ohio caliber basketball talent, signed to play Division I basketball at Morehead State University, while Daniels (basketball) and Smith (volleyball), who are each multi-sport athletes in high school, signed to play the italicized sports at top flight Division II programs in Ashland and Wheeling Jesuit, respectively. Ruby, who is a dynamic athlete in volleyball, basketball, and track and field as proven by her 2016 Division II State Championship in the long jump, signed to play the former and latter sport at Mount Vernon Nazarene. All four will finish in the top 10 percent of their graduating class or higher.
“Wendy’s is lucky to have those four young ladies associated with the Heisman, because those are the kind of kids that we do want representing that title,” Schmidt said. “That’s something that they can put on their resumes for the rest of their lives. We’re lucky to have them on that list.”
The complete list of winners are listed below:
Keith Cottle. A standout outfielder and utility athlete, the son of Clay head coach Marc Cottle will team up with fellow classmate McGwire Garrison to form a stout Panthers’ baseball unit that could very well make another deep district tournament run. Cottle, who is also a student assistant with Jill Tipton’s volleyball program, was selected as the school’s DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) Award winner, according to the school’s website. The rising senior is a member of the school’s National Honor Society.
Regan Osborn. A member of Clay’s girls basketball and tennis units, Osborn was a critical member of the SOC Championship-winning effort that the Panthers produced in tennis last year. The senior is a starting guard on Sthefany Thomas’ girls basketball unit and a National Honor Society member.
Logan Boston. A soccer, basketball, and track hand during his high school career, Boston started and excelled in goal for Dave Gampp’s soccer club as the Falcons proved to be one of the most improved teams in the entire district by season’s end. Boston is a member of the National Honor Society and serves as its historian.
Erin Daniels. Arguably the very best female athlete to ever come out of Minford, Daniels is, like Hamilton, pursuing her fourth consecutive All-Ohio accolade in as many seasons eligible for the award. A consistent 16-point, nine-rebound, five-assist, and four-steal a game producer, Daniels, along with fellow running mate Marissa Risner, were go to targets for Shane Tieman’s girls soccer program, which advanced to the Division III District Semifinals in 2017. Daniels is also a member of the National Honor Society and serves as the secretary.
Ali Hamilton. A star volleyball and basketball player and the lone Wendy’s High School Heisman recipient for the school in 2017, Hamilton exceeded the 1,000-kill mark in volleyball last year and eclipsed the 1,000-point plateau as a junior hand on the Lady Tigers’ basketball team. Hamilton, who is well on her way to her fourth consecutive All-Ohio selection in as many seasons eligible, was named Miss Glenwood and participated in River Days as a result. She hosted a free health fair in order to raise awareness about the heart and its functions in an effort to honor her grandmother, who had heart surgery last spring.
Kyle Leslie. A 6-4, 225-pound senior, Leslie has starred in the football and basketball realms throughout his career. A member of Northwest’s Top20 Club in addition to his exploits in the sports realm, Leslie made 43 tackles this past season on the football field and was named as an All-Southeast District selection in basketball last season. Those talents may be showcased at a service academy as soon as the next academic year.
Abby Baer. A volleyball and basketball standout, Baer, like Leslie, is also a member of Northwest’s Top20 club and has been a consistent presence on both units for her leadership and positive demeanor both on and off of the floor. The daughter of Rubyville Community Church Assistant Pastor Brian Baer, Abby has also volunteered at the church in addition to her athletic and academic exploits.
Joseph Beckett. A cross country and track standout at Notre Dame, Beckett is an Eagle Scout and a National Honor Society member. The rising senior is also a part of the fifth-fastest 4-by-800 meter relay unit in school history.
Lexi Smith. Like Hamilton, Smith has eclipsed the 1,000-kill and 1,000-point plateaus for her high school career. The 6-0 middle hitter finished with 1,655 kills and a .477 attack percentage across her four-year career in volleyball while leading Kelsey Glockner’s program to its first regional title victory in school history, and currently leads her basketball unit in points and rebounds per contest (15.2, 9.1) for a 13-0 Lady Titans’ club. She has been named as an All-State honoree in both sports. Smith, who also participates in track, is a National Honor Society member.
Reese Johnson. The football, basketball, and baseball standout for the Trojans has proven to be a glue guy in all three areas of the field for Portsmouth. Johnson is also a member of the National Honor Society.
Aiden Fields. A three-sport athlete like Johnson, the volleyball, swimming, and track standout has exceeded the 1,000-kill mark for her career and put up a high water mark of six feet in the pole vault. The four feet, four inch high jumper is also a member of the National Honor Society.
Parker Williams. A track and field standout who garnered a personal best throw of 35 feet, one inch in the shot put, Williams has proven himself as a solid track and field athlete for the Jeeps, who are a perennial SOC and Southeast District powerhouse in the sport.
Ellie Jo Johnson. The basketball standout, who exceeded the 1,000-point plateau for her career as a junior, is looking to continue her assault on the All-Ohio lists. She’s also a National Honor Society member at South Webster.
Cayton Ruby and Abbey Shephard. Ruby and Shephard, who have been consistent members of the A-B Honor Roll while at Valley, have provided strong leadership in the football, soccer, and volleyball realms, with the former being named as an All-SOC and All-District talent in soccer.
Chris Dials. Dials, who has played football, soccer, and tennis at West, has been an integral part in growing Larry Goodwin’s and Carolyn Callahan’s programs under the Senators’ umbrella with his leadership and play.
Jade Ratliff. A volleyball athlete and a cheerleader at West, Ratliff, who was named Miss West 2017, holds an overall GPA that exceeds 3.9. The senior, who used her “Positively Pink” platform to help provide items for those in need of physical and emotional support as they battle breast cancer, according to the school’s website, is a member of Key Club, BETA Club, Quiz Bowl, and Science Bowl.
Ellie Ruby. The National Honor Society member, who will likely go down as one of the best female athletes to ever come out of Wheelersburg High School, has accomplished a rare feat by being named as an All-Stater in three different sports. Ruby will look to take home a second state championship, and possibly more extensive hardware, in 2018.
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @KColleyPDT