L to R: Horseheads' Therese Cites and Abigail Packard, Elmira's Zaria DeMember Shazer.
From left: O-M's Sara Gardner, and Watkins Glen's Gabe Planty and Isaac McIlroy.
Top Drawer 24
Here is the 15th
annual Scholar-Athlete-Citizen Team of students
ODESSA, April 17, 2020 -- It is time once again for an annual rite -- the unveiling of the Top Drawer 24 team. This is the 15th such squad, made up almost entirely this year of seniors.
Twelve schools are involved: Watkins Glen, Odessa-Montour, Trumansburg, Spencer-Van Etten, South Seneca, Elmira Notre Dame, Horseheads, Elmira, Thomas A. Edison, Twin Tiers Christian Academy, Corning, and Waverly.
The Top Drawer honorees from those schools were selected by a committee and through consultation with administrators, teachers and coaches.
The Top Drawer program continues to maintain tradition by considering anyone in grades 9 through 12 as eligible for consideration. However, no freshmen made the team this year, nor in the previous 13 years. While sophomores are occasionally represented, none was on the team the past five years, nor is one this year. Last year, there were two juniors on the team; this year there is only one.
Committee members, in considering potential honorees, took into account academic accomplishments, achievements on the playing fields, and the ability of the students to engage the world through civic endeavors or to leave behind them positive consequences from their positive actions.
The team would, under normal circumstances, be honored on Monday, June 1 at the Watkins Glen State Park pavilion -- but the ceremony has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. That didn't stop us from selecting a team -- but with the addition of Corning and Waverly schools to the program, and with an inability to whittle the number of honorees to the usual 24 through a full school year that included a spring sports season, we are expanding the number to 30.
The selectees on the Top Drawer 24 team are as follows, by school and grade:
------ Top Drawer 24 ------
Elmira Notre Dame
Thomas A. Edison
Elmira High School
Horseheads High School
Corning High School
Waverly High School
Twin Tiers Christian Academy
More photos of honorees:
From left: Trumansburg's Sarah Wertis and Conor Baird, and S-VE's Paige Grube.
From left: Twin Tiers Christian Academy's Moriah White; Elmira's Morgan Gentile, and Corning's Charlotte Nevins.
A change in plans:
Speakers during this year's ceremony were to have been Steve Hoffman, a longtime special teams coach in the National Football League, who has three Super Bowl rings from his years with the Dallas Cowboys; and Mackenzie Grube, a former Top Drawer honoree who is now a student at SUNY Brockport. They have been invited to appear at next year's Top Drawer party instead.
When we unveiled the first such team 14 years ago, we did so in a low-keyed fashion, announcing its members publicly only after a party honoring them was held. Since those early days we have announced the selections before the party -- and this year are changing up, by necessity, to announce them without a party.
We normally carry extensive biographies of each honoree, dependent in part on meeting them at their schools and receiving from them at that time a summary of their activities and achievements: a sort of biography.
Eliminating such visits this year -- we decided that, even if school were to resume, we would only be getting in the way of a chaotic, condensed schedule at each such facility -- we are instead presenting a few general highlights to go along with the Top Drawer honoree list that appears above.
From left: Corning's Seth Hogue, Horseheads' Jillian Casey, and Watkins' Kelsey Kernan.
Left: Elmira High School sisters McKenna Ross, left, and Madisyn Ross. Right: Thomas A. Edison High School's Jack Hourihan.
From left: South Seneca's Hailey Bentley, and Horseheads' Henry Juan and Avery Snyder.
From left: Waverly's Brandon Clark, Horseheads' Sophia Verkleeren, and Waverly's Sheridan Talada.
From left: O-M's Paden Grover and Derrick Lewis; and Waverly's Scott Woodring.
About the team:
There are two repeaters this year: the only student-athletes who were on the team last year as juniors. They are Elmira High School's Zaria DeMember Shazer and Horseheads High's Jillian Casey -- both basketball standouts and heading for Division 1 college basketball careers, Zaria (a 6-1 forward) at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, and Casey (a 5-9 point guard) at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut.
Among other college signers were:
-- Corning High School's Charlotte Nevins. She has committed to play lacrosse at the University of Vermont.
-- Corning High School's Seth Hogue. He has committed to play lacrosse at Jacksonville University.
-- Horseheads High's Avery Snyder. She has committed to play lacrosse at Coastal Carolina University.
-- Horseheads High's Tess Cites. She has committed to play softball at Villanova University.
-- Horseheads High's Abby Packard. She has committed to play softball at the University of Massachussetts Lowell.
-- Waverly's Sheridan Talada. She has committed to compete in track and cross country at Binghamton University.
-- Watkins Glen's Gabe Planty. He has committed to compete in cross country and track at Syracuse University.
Each of the honorees is academically successful as well as athletically. They are all involved as well in both extracurricular school activities as well as outside interests -- in some cases church work, and in others volunteerism. There are team MVPs, league All-Stars and All-State athletes here, as well as valedictorians.
The selectees bring to 366 the number of honors bestowed over the course of the program's 15 years. The number of actual honorees is less since we have had some honored in two different years, a few in three different years, and one in four different years.
This year we have 30 honorees, the first time we've gone above the two-dozen mark. That's 30 notable people who share at least one thing in common: by excelling in unique and impressive ways, they have earned the admiration of the selection committee and a seat on this team. They have successfully embraced many athletic, academic and social opportunities in high school, and thus prepared themselves for life's many challenges.
Note: Some of the photos on this page were from the files of The Odessa File, and some were provided by the Elmira Star-Gazette and The Valley Sports Report. Others were located on Facebook and elsewhere on the internet.
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869