Top of Blog 1

FANTASTIC JOURNEYS: College-bound Canton athletes share what it takes

 FANTASTIC JOURNEYS: College-bound Canton athletes share what it takes

The college-bound Canton High School student-athletes posed for a group photo Wednesday.

Just 7% of high school athletes earn an opportunity to play a varsity sport in college — and only 2% compete for NCAA Division 1 schools, according to scholarshipstats.com.

Joined by their proud families and coaches, 15 odds-defiers who are seniors at Canton High School congregated in a hallway of the Phase III facility Wednesday to celebrate their accomplishments.

Excelling in everything from lacrosse to football, the final class of Canton Chiefs (the school’s mascot will be changed to Cobras following the 2023-24 school year) — whose efforts are extra-special given their freshman year was complicated by COVID 19 learning transitions — described how self belief and hard work fueled their next-level journeys.

Among the compelling backstories was that of Nathan Levine, who decided to compete for the Chiefs’ track-and-field team as a freshman in an effort to refine his football skills.

“A coach told me, ‘If you can jump and touch the (basketball) rim, you should try high-jumping,” the 6-foot-8 Levine recalled. “I wasn’t very good at first, but I got very good, very fast.”

Boy, did he ever.

Fast success

Nathan Levine is pictured with his parents at the Canton signing event
Nathan Levine is pictured with his parents at the Canton signing event

Levine was the MHSAA Division 1 state high jump champion his sophomore year before finishing runner-up as a junior.

A three-year letter-winner in football at Canton, Levine’s high-jump heroics got the attention of several D1 collegiate track-and-field programs, but Duke University stole his heart the minute he walked on campus.

“It felt like home,” he said. “Duke has great academics, great athletics … what’s not to like?”

Set to pursue a degree in computer science (with a minor in Spanish), the popular senior offered sage advice for youngsters who may want to follow in his footsteps someday.

“Be patient,” he said. “A lot of people say, ‘Trust the process’ and that held true for me. There were times I struggled (in the high jump) and didn’t want to do it any more, but I pulled through it.”

Making a splash

Ellie Newman started competitive swimming at the age of 8 in, of all places, Thailand, where her father was transferred temporarily for work.

Ellie Newman signs her Letter of Intent as family members look on
Ellie Newman signs her Letter of Intent as family members look on

The more she swam, the faster her times dropped.

“I really like the competition swimming provides,” she said. “I love pushing myself and seeing how fast I can go.”

Undeterred by early-morning practices — some starting at 5:15 a.m. on school days — Newman kept pushing to reach her potential.

After a sterling career at Canton — Newman earned Division 1 All-State honors three years straight — she accepted a scholarship offer from Towson University, which is located just outside Baltimore, Maryland.

“If you love doing something as much as I love swimming, set goals and never settle until you reach those goals,” she said, when asked what advice she’d offer to young swimmers.

West Point-bound

Pursued by major Division 1 college football programs as early as his freshman year at Canton, Caleb Williams decided to further his academic and athletic career at the United States Military Academy (Army) in West Point, New York.

Caleb Williams is pictured with family members as he signs his Letter of Intent PHOTO COURTESY OF ROBERT MITCHELL
Caleb Williams is pictured with family members as he signs his Letter of Intent PHOTO COURTESY OF ROBERT MITCHELL

Given its military foundation, Army was probably the most-demanding destination Williams could have chosen — but he’s fine with that.

“It was a tough decision, but it was one I based not just on football — which, obviously is important — but on what it’s going to do for me 10, 15 years down the road,” said Williams, who will play safety for the Black Knights.

“I focused on the benefits Army could bring me after football. It will provide me with the best education I can get, so after college I’m set up for a job.”

Set to pursue a business-related degree, Williams had this advice for young, aspiring student-athletes:

“Keep working hard and always have a chip on your shoulder,” he said. “Be assertive. Be a leader. Don’t get caught up in everything around you. If you stay focused on your goals, your hard work will pay off.”

Chief Justice

One of the most dominant basketball players in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association this season, Justice Tramble’s talent opened the eyes of several collegiate basketball programs.

Justice Tramble signs her Letter of Intent surrounded by family members and Coach Kayla Bridges
Justice Tramble signs her Letter of Intent surrounded by family members and Coach Kayla Bridges

For a number of reasons, she chose to take her hoops skills to South Carolina State University.

“When I went on my visit, the coaches and team really enjoyed being around each other,” Tramble said. “They’re very motivated to win and to do it the right way.”

Secondary (but vital, too) reasons were the warmer-than-Michigan climate and the fact her family is from South Carolina.

Tramble, who plans to study business management at SCSU, said her dream of playing collegiate basketball first surfaced during the summer of her ninth-grade year at Canton. She said her next-level path was paved by support from her parents, Mary and Lateef, and the coaches — Kayla Bridges and Dave Van Wagoner, to name two — who have made her basketball experience joyful.

“If I had to offer advice to a young athlete who wants to play in college someday, I would say, ‘Stick with it’,” Tramble said. “And find coaches and mentors who believe in you like mine have believed in me.”

Future in focus

Bradley Ezuika is pictured with his family after signing his Letter of Intent
Bradley Ezuika is pictured with his family and Canton Head Coach Jimmy Reddy after signing his Letter of Intent

Chief basketball standout Bradley Ezuika said the culture surrounding the Kalamazoo College basketball program was a big reason he’ll be playing for the Hornets next season.

Bigger still was the academic excellence the school offers.

“Kalamazoo College’s high academic standards are the big reason I chose to commit there,” he said. “Ultimately, the basketball stops rolling in your life and you need to make sure you’ve set yourself up for you future with your education.

“With a degree from Kalamazoo College, I’m confident I can become financially stable and be able to land a job I’m passionate about.”

That passion is steering him toward a business degree — possibly related to sales or marketing.

Ezuika said his dream of playing college basketball gained traction in ninth grade when the level of his game made a big jump. He advised current middle school players who want to follow in his path to “never give up your dream.

“Number one, you have to put in the work,” he said. “You have to be dedicated and find the motivation that drives you to be your best. Most importantly, you have to believe in yourself.”

No time to re-LAX

Jordan Wetmore is surrounded by family members as she signs her Letter of Intent to play lacrosse at Mount St. Joseph University
Jordan Wetmore is surrounded by family members as she signs her Letter of Intent to play lacrosse at Mount St Joseph University

Jordan Wetmore could be considered a late bloomer in the sport of lacrosse.

After not picking up a stick until the spring of her sophomore season at Canton, Wetmore developed skills at a rapid pace — so much so that she will be playing collegiate lacrosse beginning next year at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati.

“Once I tried it, it kind of came naturally to me,” she said.

Wetmore is committed to pursuing a career that will focus on helping others.

“Mount Saint Joseph has an amazing nursing program, which was appealing to me,” she said. “It’s perfect, too, because I wanted to go to a small school with a good lacrosse program.”

What advice would she offer young want-to-be college athletes?

“I would say keep working and don’t stress out about it,” she said. “If you want it bad enough, it will happen.

Rest of the best

The following Canton student-athletes were also recognized during Wednesday’s ceremony:

  • Taylor Steinagel, who will be attending Stoneybrook University to play soccer;
  • Nicholas Miller, who will be attending Adrian College to play soccer;
  • Grace Tarquinto, who will be attending Otterbein University to play soccer;
  • Alexis Pickerel, who will be attending Otterbein University to play soccer;
  • Julia Tasker, who will be attending Concordia University to play soccer;
  • Emma Grau, who will be attending Ohio Dominican University to play softball;
  • Gabriel Schmoll, who will be attending Northwood University to play lacrosse;
  • Devon Pettus, who will be attending Grand Valley State University to play football;
  • Ella Fournier, who will be attending West Virginia Wesleyan University to play softball;
  • Emily Cole, who will be attending Calvin University to play softball; and
  • Darnell Ison, Jr., who will be attending Detroit Christian Community College to play football.
Ella Fournier is pictured with her teammates
Ella Fournier is pictured with her teammates
Nicholas Miller is pictured with his family
Nicholas Miller is pictured with his family
Devon Pettus is pictured with his mom coaches and teammates
Devon Pettus is pictured with his mom coaches and teammates
Gabriel Schmoll is pictured with his family
Gabriel Schmoll is pictured with his family

Ed Wright can be reached at 734-664-4657 or edwright@socialhousenews.com.

Buying or selling a home this year? Working with our real estate company, Social House Group, helps us bring you more good news. If you’re considering a move, schedule an appointment with Erik Wright today by calling or texting him at (734) 620-4736. We’d love to help you with your next move!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Digiqole Ad
after post 1

Ed Wright

Related post