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The Avon Athletic Hall of Fame 2005 Induction

The Avon Athletic Hall of Fame 2007 Induction

Michael Higgins

Steve Vega

Steve Schafer

The 1988-89 Girls Cross Country Team went on to become the most honored cross country team in Avon High School's athletic history. The team went on to capture invitational titles, the conference championship title, as well as winning the Sectional and Regional Championships. To top off their dream season the team went on to place third in the 1988 State Cross Country Meet.

The team that consisted of

crosscountry
The 1988-89 Girl's Cross Country Team

Kim Holowecky

Cathy Vasu

Jenny Schafer

Sandy Alten

Carla Smith

Christine Durrach and

Linda Marlette

and was coached by Jim Reynolds, who still serves as Avon's Girl's Track Coach. The 1988-89 Girl's Cross Country literally ran circles around their competitors and set the standard for future cross country runners to follow.

The 1988-89 Girl's Cross Country Honors:

crosscountry
Here are the girl's married names: Kim Holowecky Pisanelli, Jenny Schafer Parker, Sandy Alten Maddock, Linda Marlette Varos, Cathy Vasu Loughin, Christine Durrach Edwards, Carla Smith Wible

Photo on 9-10-05

Lorain County AA Conference Champions

Avon Lake Invitational Champions

Vermilion Invitational Champions

Northeast Ohio Coaches Classic Champions

Lorain County Community College Champions

Sectional Champions

Regional Champions

Third Place 1988 State Cross Country Meet

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Michael Higgins

Michael Higgins, following in the footsteps of his sister Sally (2001 Hall of Fame inductee, 1979 Girls Track Team), may be remembered by many as one of the best all-around athletes to ever come out of Avon in 1985. As a four year varsity letterman in track, he won Lorain County's Decathlon Underclassman Award in 1983 while going on to be one of only three individuals in Lorain County History to win the Decathlon Championship two or more times for his victories in 1984 and 1985.

Mike Higgins
Mike Higgins in 1985

In football, Mike had lettered three times receiving First Team All-Inland Conference-Defense and Special Mention All-State honors as a defensive back his junior year, and Team MVP, First Team Defense-Inland Conference, Lorain County Most Valuable Defensive Back, and Honorable Mention All-State Defensive Back awards in his senior year.

While also earning varsity letters in wrestling and baseball, he finished his high school career by receiving Male Athlete of the Year honors in 1985. Following high school, Mike received a full scholarship to play football for Northern Illinois University where he was a four-year varsity letterman and had the unique opportunity to represent Avon on the gridiron as NIU played against the two #1 nationally ranked teams in 1985 and 1986.

Having won Defensive Player of the Game honors twice his senior year for games against Toledo and Wisconsin, he also ended with the exclusive distinction of playing four different defensive positions in a single game against Southwest Missouri State in 1988. He completed his college career with 239 career tackles and four interceptions, and although considered for the NFL draft in 1989, he went on to become an officer in the US Marine Corps. Currently Mike is a Plant Manager for the General Electric Company living in Buffalo, New York.

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Steve Vega

Steve Vega
Steve Vega in 1998

Steve Vega's hard work and determination made this 5'2" point guard a mammoth talent in a big man's game. At Avon Steve's basketball resume consisted of being a McDonalds All-American Nominee, First Team All-Ohio, Mr. Basketball Lorain County, Lorain County Conference MVP, Lorain County Conference Division III MVP, Northeast Ohio Division III MVP, and was the Player of the Year in 1998 for both the Lorain County Plain Dealer and Lorain Morning Journal.

He accumulated 2001 Career Points (33rd in Ohio History and 2nd in Lorain County History), 105 Three Point Shots made in a season (5th in Ohio History), and 215 Three Point Shots made in a career (17th in Ohio History). He still holds six Avon High School Basketball Records: Points in Career with 2001, Points in a Season with 728, Points in a Game with 50, Three Pointers in Game with 9, Three Pointers in a season with 105, and Three Pointers in a Career with 215. His experience at Avon gave him the tools and confidence needed to earn him a full scholarship to LeMoyne College in Syracuse, New York.

After college Steve went on to receive offers to play in various international camps, and today he is a professional basketball trainer for the National Basketball Academy where he trains players from second grade to NBA.

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Steve Schafer

Steve Schafer
Steve Schafer in 1979

Steve Schafer lettered in four sports during his career at Avon High School. In basketball this two year starter was named to the All-Inland Conference team his senior year and was the team's leading scorer and rebounder. In football Steve excelled by helping his team win the Inland Conference Championship in both his junior and senior year. The conference recognized his accomplishments by naming him All-Inland Conference for both his senior and junior year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Schafer
Steve Schafer on September 10, 2005

Steve went on to receive a full scholarship to play football at the University of Toledo, the first football player from Avon to receive a full scholarship. [Jerry Harpring wrote on 8-14-06: I believe Mike Abfall - class of 1963 - received a full scholarship to Cornell for football and or track.]

At Toledo Steve was a three year starter, played on the 1981 Mid American Conference and California Bowl Championship Teams, and was a captain his senior year.

After graduating from the University of Toledo he went on to sign free agency deals with the Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, and the USFL's Pittsburgh Maulers Team. Today, Steve is the President of Schafer Development and resides in Avon with wife Karolyn and his five kids: Steve, Kristen, Matthew, Allison, and Michael.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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[Avon 2007 Hall of Fame Induction, starting 9-14-07

Congratulations to the 6th Induction Class of the Avon Athletic Hall of Fame:

Bill Brandstadt Class of 1956

John Sikora Jr. Class of 1987

Rosemary Rehner Schneider Class of 1990

The 1988 Volleyball Team

The inductees will be honored on Friday September 14th at the Fairview vs. Avon Football Game.

The induction will take place on Saturday September 15th at the Avon High School Auditorium at 6:00 pm.]

FEATURE ARTICLE from The Press, 9-19-07, By Matt Thornicroft

``Inductees take center stage at hall induction ceremony

AVON -- Tears flowed, stories were shared and hugs were plenty as the accomplishments of the four newest members of the Avon High School Athletic Hall of Fame were honored last weekend at Avon High School.

Multi-sport standout Bill Brandstadt (1956), All-Ohio football player John Sikora (1987), volleyball legend Rosemary "Rosie" (Schneider) Rehner (1990) and the 1988 Avon Eagles volleyball team were formally enshrined last Saturday night in front of an intimate gathering of family, friends and fans. Some of the most talked about athletes of their time, all worked hard to earn the countless accomplishments showered upon them.

The children of Bill Brandstadt opened the evening's inductions by accepting the induction on their father's behalf. Brandstadt passed away July 15, 2003.

Brandstat graduated a four-year letterwinner in basketball, baseball and track and earned two more in football. A lover of sports in general, his favorite was basketball.

Brandstadt graduated Avon with 1,100 points after four years of basketball. He averaged 28 points a game his senior year and is fourth on the Eagles' all-time scoring list. Brandstadt attended Ohio University after earning a basketball scholarship, but left after a year to join his father in a tool and die business.

"My dad was very competitive," son Jeff Brandstadt said. "From basketball, racquetball, tennis and golf. He was always coming home with trophies. What was remarkable was that once they came through the door, we never saw them again. There was no trophy room, no display case. He played because he had fun. He played to win, but he played with a smile. That's what he instilled in us, sportsmanship and love of the game. Play and play hard, and enjoy the game."

Sikora, a menacing defensive tackle and fullback for the Eagles, became a full-time starter on Avon's varsity football team by his junior year. A transfer student, Sikora moved to Avon from Youngstown after the eighth grade. Born into a talented sports family -- his brother Bobby played for the Cleveland Browns and his father Robert was an all-conference basketball player -- Sikora had a work ethic and philosophy that pushed him to be the best he could be on every single play.

The first Lorain County Lombardi Award (given to the county's best senior offensive and defensive linemen) winner in Avon history, he was considered too small to play Division I college football. He attended Ashland as a freshman, suffered a severe neck injury and was told he would never play football again. Instead, he not only worked to get back on the field, but successfully walked on at Purdue his sophomore year. He suffered an ACL injury at Purdue, but again worked his way back on the field after being told otherwise.

"I believe that the more people you have on a sports team that set individual goals and work like heck to accomplish those goals, the better that team will be," Sikora said. "Through my journey in life, I've encountered many obstacles that have allowed me to develop a formula for overcoming the odds and exceeding expectations. To get what you want out of life, I believe that success will only come when preparation meets opportunity. I believe we are all ordinary people. The people who accomplish extraordinary things are usually the ones consciously creating their own successes. If you believe in yourself, you'll accomplish anything you want in life."

Rosie (Schneider) Rehner, an honor student and standout athlete in basketball, track and softball, dominated during her years with Avon's volleyball team.

Known for her love of practice, Rehner wore out more than a few volleyballs taking shot after shot in the gym well after formal practice was over. The attention to details paid off for Rehner, who earned two varsity letters in volleyball. She was awarded Lorain County's Miss Volleyball honor following her senior season. It was one of countless awards showered upon the Avon grad -- both in sports as well as the classroom.

"Thinking back to those days, I loved to play volleyball," Rehner said. "That was my game. I have such wonderful memories, like going up to the net and having absolutely perfect sets from Erin Kvach, Mari Gunderson and Kim McGhee. I can't think of anything that felt better than going up and hitting the ball into the floor."

Rehner was also a three-year starter on Avon's girls basketball team. During that time, the Eagles won three league championships, two sectional titles and one district championship. She went on to earn athletic and academic scholarships at Notre Dame College of Ohio, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1994 with several collegiate volleyball awards under her belt as well.

Rehner was one of many parts that helped Avon's 1988 volleyball team advance to Ohio's Elite 8 during that season's playoff run, along with Kvach, Gunderson, McGhee, Dawn Smith, Stephanie Johnson, Jenny Phillips, Suzie Jones, Renee Bower, Amy Fitch and Sandy Alten.

Coached by longtime Avon girls head volleyball coach Marty Yonkof and assistant Gina Kelly, that year's Eagles team went on to set a school record with 24 wins and four losses.

"It's hard to believe that it's been 20 years," Yonkof said. "Your prowess on the athletic field and success in the classroom brought a lot of attention to the city of Avon. Just remembering the news articles, it seemed like they were all about Avon all the time."

The Eagles tournament run began in dominating fashion. Avon never allowed more than eight points per game throughout sectionals and districts. Avon defeated Kidron Central Christian 15-8, 15-8 in the first round of districts in a revenge victory over the team that knocked them out the year before. They defeated Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy in three games to win the Medina district title. There they defeated Warren Western Reserve before losing to New Washington Buckeye Central in two games.

Gunderson and McGhee went the entire season without missing a single serve. Kvach missed just five serves. The team's hitting percentage was 82 percent. The Eagles had passing percentage of 93 percent.''

mthornicroft@2presspapers.com

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