DARKE COUNTY – A trio of athletes who were leaders and helped set the tone for their teams have earned player of the year honors from The Daily Advocate.
Franklin Monroe’s Jake Shellabarger has been named The Daily Advocate’s boys soccer player of the year, Franklin Monroe’s Beth Kirkpatrick has been named The Daily Advocate’s girls soccer player of the year, and Versailles’ Danielle Winner has been named The Daily Advocate’s volleyball player of the year.
Shellabarger was named the Cross County Conference boys soccer player of the year as he helped lead the Jets to the league championship. In addition to being the CCC’s top player, Shellabarger also was named first team all-district and second team all-Ohio by the Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association.
“Jake had a strong season,” Franklin Monroe boys soccer coach Danny Diceanu said. “He was one of our go-to guys up front. Scored some big goals for us.”
On a team that was very balanced with numerous players capable of scoring, Shellabarger had 13 goals and 10 assists. The junior has good skills, great hustle and a big heart, Diceanu said.
“It’s his drive and will to succeed, his never-ending desire to compete,” Diceanu said about what makes Shellabarger such as strong player. “And he has a knack for the goal. He’s driven by success. I think that motivates him to pursue the ball all over the field and cause trouble for the other team.”
As a team captain, Shellabarger was one of the key pieces to help the Jets make the Ohio High School Athletic Association district championship game for a fifth consecutive year.
“He’s starting to become a leader,” Diceanu said. “He’s great to have on your team.”
Kirkpatrick was a key piece to the Franklin Monroe defense during her junior season.
“Beth is the type of player that wears her heart on her sleeve, takes goals given up by the defense personally, that just says she’s willing to go that extra mile for her team,” Howell said. “She does push her teammates hard and expects a ton from each player, kind of like a coach might. It’s nice to have a few kids on the field that will run through a brick wall for you.”
Kirkpatrick scored one goal and had two assists. The junior also was a vital part of six shutouts posted by the Lady Jets.
“Beth was a big part of the reason we had the number of shut outs we had this year,” Howell said.
For her efforts, Kirkpatrick earned first team all-CCC honors.
“Don’t get me wrong, goals win games, but defense wins championships,” Howell said. “Beth has become a huge part of our team, and we’re expecting big things from her in a leadership role next year.”
In a conference that included six state-ranked teams, Winner earned first team all-Midwest Athletic Conference honors.
“Danielle had a slow start to the season, as she battled an injury,” Versailles volleyball coach Karla Frilling said. “Her healing and being back 100 percent with no repercussions was the most important thing. Once we had Danielle to that point, she began to make noticeable changes to our team. Danielle immediately began to contribute, game after game, the lead amount of kills and blocks. Beyond her stats, she also helped create a spark of confidence and fire for the team. Danielle continued to grow in her experiences and we look forward to the further development of her in the game of volleyball.”
With Winner and the rest of the Lady Tigers coming on strong toward the end of the season, Versailles made the OHSAA regional tournament for a third consecutive season.
“Danielle’s presence was never over-looked on the court,” Frilling said. “She made that impossible for anyone to do. Danielle posed a threat to the opposing team in both defense and offense. She contributed the lead kills and lead blocks for the season. She worked incredibly hard for the team and much of the team’s success can be contributed to that dedication.”
Only being a sophomore, Winner should only get stronger for Versailles.
“Danielle is a very coachable player,” Frilling said. “She takes feedback well and applies that to the betterment of her game. Danielle is willing to make changes to improve and push herself outside her comfort zone. She has skills that some players long to have, and she does not take that for granted. She works to continue to improve and contribute any way she can to her team.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.