STEVENS POINT, Wis. — Ashley Stich of Kenosha Tremper High School has been selected as the 2019 Wisconsin nominee for the National High School Spirit of Sport Award presented by the National Federation of State High School Associations.
Stich completed her high school career on the girls’ golf team last fall. She participated and lettered all four years on the team and qualified for sectionals her freshman, junior and senior seasons. Her nine-hole average was 50 in 2017 and 51 as the team’s #2 player in 2018 following multiple surgeries.
After suffering a series of strokes, Stich was diagnosed with Moyamoya, a rare and progressive vascular disorder that reduces the flow of blood to the brain caused by blockage or the narrowing of the carotid artery. The strokes impaired her ability to talk, count and read. In January, 2018, she underwent brain surgery to increase the blood flow to her brain.
Following eight weeks of recovery following surgery, she returned to school in March with a modified schedule and participated in limited track and field practice. Stich’s health improved enough during the summer to work on improving her golf game, and she missed just one competition last season due to illness.
Stich has also maintained her academic success and has been active in other school and community efforts. She is a member of the National Honor Society and was named to the Wisconsin Golf Coaches Association Academic All-State team the past three years. She volunteers as the school mascot, and she is a member of the Renaissance Club, as well as the Archery Club. In addition, she devotes time as a volunteer at a local nursing home.
Stich was recognized and honored for her ability to thrive and persevere despite health obstacles by Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian, who declared July 1, 2018, “Ashley Stich Day.”
As the Wisconsin nominee, she will be recognized at the 2019 WIAA Annual Meeting on Wednesday, April 17, at the Holiday Inn and Convention Center in Stevens Point.
Her nomination was advanced to the NFHS Spirit of Sport Committee for regional and national consideration. Searra Inman of Niles Brandywine High School in Michigan, a wrestler and soccer player that suffered a severed spinal cord as result of a motorcycle accident, was selected as the regional recipient. Amanda Merrell of Huntingtown High School in Maryland, who lost a leg in her battle with cancer and excels in basketball, received the national Spirit of Sport Award.
The National High School Spirit of Sport Award was started in 2008. Including this year, 12 individuals and three teams have been chosen national award recipients.
Nominations for this award were generated through NFHS member state associations and reviewed by the NFHS National High School Spirit of Sport Award Selection Committee composed of state association staff members. While the national winner will be recognized June 29 at the NFHS Summer Meeting in Indianapolis, Ind., the section winners are recognized within their respective states and will receive awards before the end of the current school year.
In addition to Stich, finalists for Wisconsin’s nomination for the Spirit of Sport Award included Kalena Clauer of Arrowhead High School, Michael Del Conte of Wausau West High School, Ava Schaefer of Hartford Union High School, David Skogman of Waukesha West High School, and the Athens High School baseball team.
Clauer has persevered through numerous health challenges, including a congenital lung defect and thyroid cancer, to compete for four years in cross country and track & field prior to graduation last spring.
During her sophomore year, she had half of her left lung removed. Following the surgery she spent three weeks overcoming kidney, pancreas and liver failure. However, she continued to compete through all her health issues.
Clauer was involved in a minor car accident her senior year that prompted a precautionary CT scan which revealed she had thyroid cancer. After surgery and radiation treatments, she returned to participate in the track and field season and receive a team letter.
She has inspired the raising of $5,000 for the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin to benefit child and teen cancer research and awareness. She is a freshman at UW-Stevens Point and is a member of the cross country and track & field teams.
Michael Del Conte
Del Conte battled back from an accident in January, 2017, to return to the Warriors’ boys soccer team in 2018. He was partially paralyzed from the neck down with damage to three vertebrae following the accident, but through rigorous rehabilitation and therapy, he returned to participate and compete.
A 4.0 student, Del Conte is also involved in Wausau West’s vocal music department.
With hard work during a 20-week recovery, Del Conte regained his ability to walk and return to the field. He also served on the Homecoming Court last fall and participated in the ceremony.
Shaefer and her older sister, Alaina, suffer from Primary Hyperoxaluria, Type 1 (PH1), a rare liver disorder. The condition causes a buildup of excess oxalate that produces kidney stones requiring occasional medical attention.
A diagnosis in April, 2017, revealed Schaefer’s kidneys were failing and dialysis was required six times a week. Just prior to Labor Day, she received organ transplants and was discharged a week later. After a month of grueling recovery, she returned home and was able to return to school on a part-time basis later in the fall. She attended school on a full-time basis in January, 2018, and was named Prom Queen in the spring.
She returned to the Orioles’ girls tennis program last fall and advanced with her doubles partner to the State Individual Tournament.
Skogman collapsed while playing in a non-school summer basketball tournament last summer. He was resuscitated with an AED, and after months of testing, had a defibrillator implanted into his chest as a precaution.
His success and abilities on the court has garnered Division 1 college scholarship offers, and he was named to the Associated Press All-State Second Team in 2019.
His leadership and attitude has been witnessed since the traumatic event. Last fall, he spoke to hundreds of freshmen students and families at Waukesha West’s orientation, and sharing his experiences to participants in the Junior Wolverine Youth Basketball Program.
Athens Baseball Team
During the 2018 WIAA Tournament Series, a member of the Bluejays baseball team, Tucker Westfall, died in an UTV accident. He was the son of an assistant coach and a cousin of team members.
Another player and the team manager were also injured in the accident, which occurred after Athens had won the regional championship and preparing for sectionals. Inspired by the memory of Westfall, the team went on to capture the Division 4 State championship.
# WIAA #