1. Ashlee Lemke

1. Ashlee Lemke
Austintown Fitch
Our athlete of the year, senior Ashlee Lemke, is truly a one-of-a-kind athlete in the township of Austintown. She is the only player in the history of the varsity volleyball program, now nearly 20 years old, and the lone athlete in the school, to be in the starting lineup of two teams in a state final four appearance. That kind of achievement hasn't gone unnoticed by her coaches, teammates or opponents. She was named to the District 1 all-star team and participated in several post-season all-star matches. Her success, like many, is a result of long hours of practice, participation on summer teams and a dogged determination to be better than the competition across the net.
The Austintown Fitch program had never competed beyond the regional tournament until the 1999 season, when the Falcons advanced to the final four. Lemke was a sophomore and in the starting lineup for that semifinal match, which the Falcons unfortunately lost in two games. But, with senior leadership on and off the court leading them, the Falcons were able to return to the state's final four again in 2001.
Another first for the program occurred in the state semifinal match against a traditional state power from Cincinnati, St. Ursula High School, when Austintown Fitch won the first game. But, the Falcons couldn't sustain the momentum from that victory and lost the second, and third and deciding game, finishing one match from every team's ultimate goal at the beginning of the season. At 5-foot-6 senior, Lemke was named to the third-team All-Ohio squad by the state's coaches association during the week of the state tournament. Her height and skill at the game of volleyball are sure to land her a spot on a college squad. Expected to be the leader of the youthful Falcon squad -- they will return four starters for next season and again be considered one of the elite teams not in the district but the state -- by her coach, Tom Case, Lemke came through in flying colors. As is needed in any leader, she displayed a cool demeanor which was in evidence following the disappointing semifinal loss to St. Ursula. "I thought we played really well in the first game [the win]," she said, then adding, "The other two games kind of upset me." Later, she was asked about the experience of playing in two separate state tournaments in the Nutter Center. "I think the first time was more special," she said. "It was the first time our school ever got here and I was just a sophomore. But this [time, as a senior] was great. This was awesome." We share in that sentiment, which goes a long in way in summing up a sterling and productive high school career."
X Grade: Senior.
X Positive influence:"My parents because they were always there for me and they encouraged me to always do my best."
X Memory from the season: "Going to state."
X Future plans: "Go to college, majoring in education."
2. Katy Jo Mroski
X Grade: Junior.
X Positive influence: "My father has been the biggest influence on my athletic career. He has always supported me and spends long hours each day practicing with me. He is always supportive and willing to help. I love him."
X Memory from the season: "Going to Worthington Kilbourne and winning for the first time and getting MVP. Coach Montgomery's 500th win. Getting a chance to play in the regional finals."
X Future plans: "I plan on continuing my athletic career, and going to a Division I School. I would like to major in elementary education, and work with children."
3. Amy Falhamer
X Grade: Senior.
X Positive influence: "Mr. Montgomery my volleyball coach, he has taught me to work hard and never give up. He has also taught me what dedication is all about. He has pushed me to the best of my ability."
X Memory from the season:"Our trip to Columbus and winning the tournament at Kilbourne High School."
X Future plans: "I plan to attend a four-year college and major in elementary education."
4. Tealle Hunkus
X Grade: Junior.
X Positive influence:"My parents -- they have stuck by me and always helped me when I need it."
X Memory from the season: "The first district title in the history of our school."
X Future plans: "State champs next year in volleyball and basketball -- I plan on playing volleyball at a Division I school."
5. Maggie Case
Austintown Fitch
X Grade: Sophomore.
X Positive influence: "My biggest inspirations in my athletic career have been my coach and father, Tom Case, and my sister, Ashlie Case. They have not only taught me the fundamentals of the game, but to love every minute I am on the court. Without their knowledge and encouragement, I know my volleyball career would not have been as successful as it has been."
X Memory from the season: "My best memory from this season is winning the regional finals and making the trip to the state tournament. To be competing with such great athletes was extremely rewarding and is something I will never forget."
X Future plans: "My future plans for the rest of my high school career is to continue to improve as a player and accomplish the challenges that are brought before me. After high school, I plan on playing volleyball in college."
6. Tiffany Hack
Mineral Ridge
X Grade: Senior.
X Positive influence: "My volleyball coach, Jennifer Staunton. She has taught me many things about my sport, my self, and life itself. I want to thank her for continually pushing me to be the best I can be."
X Memory from the season: "My best memory of volleyball would be participating in both the district all-star game and All-Ohio all-star game."
X Future plans: "My plans for the future are attending a four-year college to further my education, also to play college sports."
7. Mara Capraruollo
X Grade: Senior.
X Positive influence: "My dad was my biggest influence in sports. He taught me to work hard on all I do and to keep trying to be my best. My brother has also helped influence me to keep trying my hardest in everything I've done."
X Memory from the season: "Being able to make it to district finals, and being able to have a winning season."
Future plans: "Undecided on what college I'm going to but would like to play volleyball. I would like to major in business."
8. Rachael Shansky
East Liverpool
X Grade: Senior.
X Positive influence:"A person who has been a positive influence in my life is my coach and father, Bob Shansky. He has made me the person I am and the volleyball player I am. He has coached me ever since I was born. He has taught me about volleyball along with leadership."
X Memory from the season: "The best memories I have of my season would have to be the all-star games I played in. Playing in district and OVAC All-star games was a great experience."
X Future plans: "Next year I hope to continue my career playing volleyball at college. I plan to major in political communications."
9. Desra Tomaino
X Grade: Senior.
X Positive influence: Pat Keney, my volleyball coach. He taught me that you have to work hard and play as a team to win games."
X Memory from the season:"When we beat Sebring to become sectional champs and when we beat Mineral Ridge on their home floor."
X Future plans: "Attend Baldwin-Wallace College and major in Sports Management. After that, get a good job and live happily ever after."
10. Amanda Gordon
X Grade: Junior.
X Positive influence: "Mr. Seger, my volleyball coach. He pushes me to do my best in practice during the season and off. He has helped me tremendously, by continuously making sure I play all year round & amp; get the best help I possibly could."
X Memory from the season: "When my team was down and our coach was pushing us to score and we would mess-up. But out of that, it made us stronger and we would pull together and fight back."
X Future plans: "I would like to go on to play in college. I would also like to pursue a career in masso-therapy or physical therapy."
11. Tonya Beaumont
X Grade: Senior.
X Positive influence: "My coach, Bellina Donaldson, has been the biggest influence. She has turned me into a leader, and showed me responsibility. In critical times in the game she turns to me and puts everything on my shoulders. She has me make the decisions. During that time I was a little upset, but now I see is was to my benefit and I love her for it."
X Memory from the season: "When the team pulled together for the second year in a row to move on to regionals. We never knew that we would be back again, but it was better than before."
X Future plans: "I plan on attending a four-year college or university going into Pre-Medicine and majoring in chemistry. I may play volleyball, but it is not definite."
12. Jill Vertanen
X Grade: Junior.
X Positive influence: "In each sport I play, I try to make myself a little better by trying to apply situations I saw from great athletes who played those sports before. I have always looked up to Kristy Booms, Holly Coleman, and even my coaches. Your coach reflects you and your team, and I've been fortunate to have wonderful coaches."
X Memory from the season: "When we beat Salem at home it had to be the most exciting and memorable experience of the season."
X Future plans: "Attend college and play volleyball. Major in psychology or photo-journalism."

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