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Already partnered with area high schools through its providing athletic trainers, University Hospitals Samaritan Medical Center strengthened that commitment Tuesday night.
The first UH Samaritan Medical Center Student Athlete of the Year Award Dinner was held at its facility on E. Main St. in Ashland, where a total of 33 athletes from the six school districts participating in the Athletic Trainer program -- Ashland, Black River, Hillsdale, Loudonville, Mapleton and New London -- were recognized for their accomplishments in sports, the classroom and in the community.
A total of $5,000 in scholarships was awarded to six of those athletes, including $1,500 each to New London's Ryan Lane, named Male Athlete of the Year, and Faith Edwards of Mapleton, the Female Athlete of the Year.
Earning $750 scholarships were Frances Radway of Black River and David Amstutz of Ashland, while Emily Weber of Loudonville and Adrianna Rogers of Hillsdale both received $250.
Edwards, who will attend Mount Union, was a 1,000-point career scorer in basketball for the Mounties, and also graduated as the school's all-time leader in assists and 3-pointers made in a season and career. She carried a 3.98 GPA.
Lane, bound for Kent State, became New London's all-time basketball scoring leader and was the Firelands Conference Player of the Year, while in baseball, the pitcher/shortstop was a first-team All-Ohioan. His GPA is 3.6.
All of the winners came forward to receive plaques from special guest Jamie Meder, the Cleveland Browns defensive lineman and Ashland University graduate, while Noah Gangi, the hospital's marketing and multimedia coordinator who organized the banquet, read from their scholarship applications.
Meder was a two-time Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Defensive Lineman of the Year with the Eagles, starting all 44 games in his AU career. Last season, his third with the Browns, he started all 16 games.
"I'm so excited to be starting this annual event," said Karen McNeil, UH SMC president. "I'd like to stress the fact that, just like in sports, everyone had a role to play."
Bryan Finger, Director of Clinical Operations, said the Samaritan Hospital Foundation has funded the athletic trainer program with more than $1.2 million since its inception, then introduced the trainers in attendance. He also praised University Hospitals for its support of the sports medicine staff.
"Athletes are on the edge of a cliff, and it's our job to keep them there," Finger added. "To get them back as quickly as possible and as safely as possible, and allow them to reach their highest potential."
Money for the scholarships was donated by the UH SMC sports medicine staff. At each of the six schools, a male and female was selected during the fall, winter and spring seasons. Each received a certificate of recognition.
The athletes honored included: Ashland -- John Wolfe and Bryanna Masters (fall); Sid Ohl, Kylie Radebaugh (winter); Amstutz, Masters (spring); Black River -- Curtis Roupe, Hannah Heath (fall); Jacob Campbell, Radway (winter); Logan Stretar, Romi Smith (spring); Hillsdale -- Andrew Wolf, Rogers (fall); Austin Smiley, Jordan Taylor (winter); Luke Kocab, Sydney Long (spring); Loudonville -- Mason Johnson, Nikki Weber (fall); Thomas Forbes, Britney Sage (winter); Connor Young, Emily Weber (spring); Mapleton -- Logan Pharmer, Breanna Porter (fall); Gage Barone, Edwards (winter); Drew Roberts, Bayleigh Paramore (spring); New London -- Jacob Molnar, Delaney Porter (fall); Lane, Morgan Luedy (winter); Lane, Luedy (spring).