By Teddy Rydquist
Leader Staff Writer
Ahead of the girls’ soccer season-opener against the Fenton Tigers on April 6, a game Oxford would win, 4-0, six members of the Class of 2021 signed their National Letters of Intent (LOI) to continue their student-athlete careers at the collegiate level.
In alphabetical order, here is a rundown of the half-dozen Wildcats who partook in the ceremony.
Mikayla Corrion signed to run cross country and track for the Aquinas College Saints. Located in Grand Rapids, Aquinas is a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) school that competes in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC).
Cheerleader Gabbi DiCosmo will also be headed to the WHAC, signing with the Rochester College Warriors.
Carter Gilbert will be continuing his football career at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I level, pledging to the Eastern Michigan Eagles. A member of the Mid-American Conference (MAC), the Ypsilanti-based Eagles have played in three bowl games since hiring Chris Creighton in December 2013.
Gilbert, who was an All-Oakland Activities Association (OAA) Red Division selection as a senior, played both defensive end and left tackle for Oxford. The plan is for him to focus on the defensive line at Eastern Michigan.
The Eagles are scheduled to travel to Madison to face the Wisconsin Badgers on September 11, meaning, if Gilbert is part of the travel roster, he will have the opportunity to experience one of college football’s best venues, Camp Randall Stadium.
Zach Patterson will be moving to Allendale to run cross country for the Grand Valley State University Lakers, a member of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) at the NCAA Division II level.
Posting a time of 15:56.6 as a junior, Patterson is tied for third on the Wildcats’ all-time cross country list, fewer than eight seconds back of the record-holder, Class of 2004 graduate Donnie Richmond (15:48.7 in 2002).
The continuation of a family tradition, Zach Townsend will be playing soccer for the Oakland Golden Grizzlies. Coached by Eric Pogue, the Golden Grizzlies are a Division I program that competes in the Horizon League.
Lastly, but certainly not least, John Valvo will be playing football for the Albion Britons in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) in the NCAA’s Division III. Like Gilbert, Valvo, a hard-hitting cornerback, was an All-OAA Red Division honoree in 2020.
Per data from the NCAA’s official website, NCAA.org, just 7.25 percent of high school student-athletes across the United States advance to the collegiate level. These Wildcats represent some of that dedicated, talented few.
Like one of the NCAA’s slogans, “Pathway to opportunity,” this next step in the lives of these young men and women will help them walk away with something far more valuable than any athletic accomplishment: A college degree.
To each of these six, congratulations, keep making Oxford proud!
By Teddy Rydquist