The number of students participating in Oberlin sports continues to grow.
Athletic director Ty Stillman has seen a six percent increase in participation since starting in 2013.
“In high school we have more than 100 kids participating in a fall sport, which is great because we have just under 300 kids at this school,” he said. “If we can get in the 50 to 60 percent (range) of kids participating in one sport a year, I think that’s pretty great and showing a lot of growth.”
This fall season, the Phoenix football team will have 40 players, nearly 10 more than last season. The average number of students on other teams is 16.
Stillman said there are multiple players on Oberlin’s football team that people should watch out for: Elijah Bugg, Devan Yarber, Kobe Fields, David Payne, and the team’s six seniors.
“Every single one of them are good and will contribute,” Stillman said. “They’re a talented group. It’s been fun to watch.”
He has noticed how much work the players have done in the off-season to prepare for this year.
“I’m excited to see them compete on Fridays,” he said. “I don’t need them set the world on fire, I don’t need them to score a bunch of touchdowns, I just need them to play sound football.”
The Phoenix cross country team will have 15 runners this year and its first girls team in nearly two decades.
Stillman said Oberlin’s five seniors (David Castle, David Carter, Simon Perales, Noah Frantz, and Jillian Doane) are key runners to watch this year along with freshmen Nick Vayda and Thayer Preston.
He has seen the benefit of students running cross country in the spring when they join the track team.
Oberlin’s volleyball program has 18 girls this year, allowing for both a junior varsity and varsity squad.
The two key players to watch this season are senior Anna Cameron and junior Aszure Chamberlin.
“They are being coached by Mason Cooley, which I think is one of the best around,” said Stillman, who is excited to see how Cooley does in his second year with Oberlin but first year as the head coach.
Stillman expects the team to win more games and take teams to five matches.
“I think just getting those girls excited about volleyball shows you that program is growing,” he said.
Both Phoenix soccer teams have smaller, younger teams this year but Stillman believes they will still have a good season.
Stillman said he’s interested to watch the girls team grow and change its style of play.
“They might be a team that struggles early but gets it together as the season goes on,” he said.
Oberlin’s boys soccer may have lost a lot of seniors last year but the younger players have stepped up in Stillman’s eyes and are ready to compete.
“I’ve been really impressed with the six freshmen playing,” Stillman said. “I’m looking forward to see what they can do this year. I have high hopes for them.”
Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.