Six seniors commit to college athletic programs

By Kyler Helvey, Audrey Hurlburt, and Paula Zalar

McNicholas held its final athletic commitment signing ceremony on April 14. Six members of the Class of 2021 committed to continuing their athletic careers at the collegiate level: Daniel Auxier, Clay Badylak, Riley Haugh, Emma McSwigan, Austin Ramey, and Mia Smith.

Daniel Auxier committed to playing lacrosse at Virginia Wesleyan in the attack position, where his season will begin Feb. 13 for the spring. He began playing lacrosse when he was in first grade. Looking back at his best times and his memories at McNick, Auxier said having playing lacrosse with my friends was one of his fondest. Auxier said he received offers to play at multiple schools but chose Virginia Wesleyan. “I knew it was the best place for me” Auxier said. “I also really liked how close it is to Virginia Beach.” Auxier has narrowed his major down to either Business or Criminal Justice but has not yet decided between the two. 

Clay Badylak committed to playing baseball at Frontier Community College (Illinois) as a shortstop. His season at Frontier Community College starts with athletic orientation on August 9 with the fall season starting the following week. He began playing baseball when he was 3 in the backyard of his house, and became really interested in the sport when he began to pitch in little league. “I threw pretty hard for a young kid and sometimes I had to stop throwing because the other team couldn’t catch up to it,” Badylak said.

Looking back at his time at McNick he’ll remember the memories and the lifelong friends he made while playing sports at McNick. His summer ball coach, Austin Newman, was his biggest influence. “He taught me that you have to a certain mindset of being the hardest worker in the room. He and I would go to Indian Hill High School at 6 AM and those days are where I improved the most,” Badylak said. 

Badylak received two offers, one from Saint Thomas More University and the other from Frontier Community College. “I knew [Frontier Community College] would give me the best opportunity to play baseball at a higher level,” Badylak said. Badylak will be studying business and athletic management. 

Riley Haugh committed to playing football at Hiram College in northern Ohio. He will be playing defensive line and his season starts in August. His interest in football started when he was in third grade. He said he is most excited to meet new teammates and he is thankful for McNick for teaching him how to be a better person both on and off the field. “Because of the adversity of the team throughout the years, I know that I can play with the worst team or the best and succeed,” Haugh said. While he received offers from other schools, he committed to Hiram College because it felt like home. Haugh said, “I knew in my heart [Hiram College] was the right choice.” Haugh will be majoring in sports management at Hiram College.

Emma McSwigan has committed to playing soccer just across the river from Cincinnati at Northern Kentucky University, where she will take the field as either a striker or midfielder. McSwigan has been playing soccer since she was 3 years old. “She has had an impressive run over four years of competing at the varsity level; being named All-GCL all four years and placing on First Team-GCL her senior season. In addition, for her efforts this fall, she earned 1st team all-city and 2nd Team All State,” Athletic Director Drew Schmidt said. Along with these achievements, Emma received both an academic and athletic scholarship with this signing. McSwigan’s not sure when her season will start: The NKU 2020 season was postponed to spring 2021 due to Covid. Whenever it does start, however, McSwigan is prepared. “Playing soccer at McNick has helped me get into the routine of having hardcore practice and training every day alongside balancing academics,” McSwigan said. Her teammates have allowed her to create a family within her high school sports career, and her coaches helped her most on her journey to sign to play in college. “Those are the memories I’m going to remember a year from now,” McSwigan stated.

She is looking forward to the competition and rigor that college sports bring, just like her father Tom McSwigan did for NKU from 1985-89. As most parents do, they gave Emma advice when signing for college, but the most important part of their message to her was, “… spread her name and follow her heart,” said McSwigan’s mother Leslie McSwigan. Both of her parents are excited to see her play for the Norse community.  She plans on majoring in Sports Business at NKU.

Austin Ramey committed to play football at Ave Maria University in Florida. He will play on the offensive line, and his season starts August 7. Ramey has been playing football since he was 5, and his interest in the sport has only grown. He is so grateful for his teammates who made his high school experience what it as, as well as his mom for helping him get recruited and talk to coaches during the signing process. He is most excited to meet new people, and new coaches, and learn new schemes. Even though he is excited for the future, Ramey will always remember his teammates. “The times in the locker room and talking before and after practice and games is what I’ll remember,” Ramey said. Ramey received offers to play at other colleges, but choose Ave Maria University because he liked that it was a Catholic college, and he liked the coaches at Ave Maria the most.

His parents, Tina and Mike Ramey are both very proud and excited for their son. “It’s a big deal to play [football] in college,” Mike Ramey said, “I think he’s talented, and I hope he has a successful and healthy career.” Ramey will be majoring in business, with an undecided minor. Mia Smith committed to playing softball at Mount St. Joseph University. She will continue to play first and third base in college. Smith’s season starts this summer: “We’ll start with fundraisers and stuff and then lead into conditioning later,” Smith said. Smith began playing softball at 8 years old. Her experience with the Rockets has helped her to prepare mentally and physically for this transition. Not only does the west-side school fit her sport’s needs with its honorable athletic program, but Smith also thinks it’s a good location. “A year from now, I’m going to look back and remember playing with everyone.” Apart from her team supporting her, Smith has always had her father every step of the way. “My biggest supporter was my dad – he has been to basically every game except one. He’s always given me advice.” Mike Smith influenced her sports career from the beginning – paying for lessons, critiquing her plays, and just cheering from the sidelines. He’s excited to continue watching his daughter play softball. “Mt. St. Joseph University just checked all the boxes when Mia was looking at colleges, and I’m excited to see her play for them,” Smith said. Both Smiths said they will miss McNick, but are excited to take this step in her sports career.  Smith will major in graphic design, with an undecided minor.

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