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Griffith, Morris receive Grosh Award
BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor
, Staff Writer
There’s one thing that no one can deny about the Warwick Class of 2013.
The sheer number of standout student-athletes was off the charts.
For both the boys and girls.
As Ericka Griffith and Tyler Morris proved on Monday at Warwick’s Senior Athlete Recognition and Awards Dessert Social, they take a backseat to nobody.
Winners of six varsity letters each in their high school career, Griffith and Morris received the Warriors’ top athletic honor – the Dr. Joseph W. Grosh Scholarship Award.
The award is a $500 one-time stipend, honoring one male and one female student-athlete for outstanding achievement on the athletic field and in the classroom, in addition to leadership abilities. To win the award, the student-athletes must be going on for post-secondary education, they need a GPA of 2.7 or higher, and they must have lettered at least one time in a varsity sport as a junior and twice as a senior.
For Griffith, she is following in the footsteps of her brothers, Ryan and Jason, who won the Grosh Award in 2006 and 2008, respectively.
Asked how much of an honor it was for her, Ericka said, "Pretty big, especially since both of my brothers got it, so it’s kinda cool … I had no clue that I got it."
Added Morris: "It’s pretty big. I’m excited. I’m glad that I had a chance to win it. I know there’s, like, Tom (Devenney), who was a multi-sport athlete, and Austin (Minnich), who had good grades and everything … It was a surprise. I was always hoping I was in the running, but then to actually win it is a whole other thing. It’s nice."
Griffith, who is receiving an athletic scholarship to play field hockey at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, earned three varsity letters in that sport at Warwick. In the spring, she participated for two years in both girls lacrosse and track, taking home one letter in the former and two in the latter.
Warwick field hockey coach Bob Derr and track and field coach Katie Vann both described Griffith as a hard-worker who was willing to do anything asked of her.
Derr also talked about Griffith’s maturity beyond her years.
"She has things under control, she knows what she wants, and she knows what she’s got to do to get to where she wants to get to," Derr remarked. "She just has it all together. That’s what is very impressive about her."
In the fall of 2012, the Lady Warriors were dealing with the graduation losses of nine seniors who helped lead them to the PIAA State Triple-A championship game the previous season. Griffith’s leadership was a valuable asset for the Warwick girls, who advanced to the L-L League semi-finals and then to the District Three Triple-A playoffs.
"(Ericka) has tremendous leadership qualities," Derr said. "I think the team, when they chose her as captain, that’s what stuck out, that she was the one that spoke up, she was the one that even demonstrated the leadership on the field. She would just give you 100 percent all the time. There was no goofing around. It was always business. When she stepped on the field at practice, she came ready to go and she gave you everything she’s got. There was no slacking off. That’s the way she came every day. I’m happy for her (to win the Grosh Award)."
Derr said that Griffith grasped everything that sports can teach a student-athlete.
"(Regarding) the hard work and work ethic, loyalty, honor, integrity, character, attitude, perseverence … she demonstrated that and carried it out and did not waver from that," Derr said. "In this day and age, it’s very easy to go down another path real easy. She did just a great job of staying on the task. She has it all together. She’s going to do really well, no matter what she does whether it’s sports, academics, job … She’s going to do well."
With the Lady Warriors’ track and field team this spring, Griffith picked up a few third-place finishes in the 400, in addition to contributing to the 4×400 and 4×800 relays.
Despite the coaches moving Griffith from sprints into more of the distance events with coach Ed Nixdorf’s group, she didn’t miss a beat.
"(Ericka) wasn’t with people who were necessarily her friends in school," Vann said, "but she jumped right in there and blended right in and did what we needed her to do. She was very good at coming to us as coaches and asking, ‘What more can I do? What needs to be done?’ And Ericka is just very good at taking charge and being like, ‘OK, you guys come with us, this is what we need to do.’"
Griffith competed with junior high track and field team in middle school, then played two years of lacrosse after that. But she was a welcome addition to the Lady Warriors’ track team in her junior and senior seasons.
"She’s a super strong kid. Very athletic," Vann said. "When I looked at the list (of senior female student-athletes) this year, it was pretty competitive of who was going to be up for (the Grosh Award). But Ericka is really tough and she works really hard and does absolutely everything you ask of her. That would explain why she is up there."
Morris, too, is certainly up there on the list of Warwick male student-athletes. A Liberty University recruit on a baseball scholarship, Morris was a leader not only for Warwick on the diamond, but also on the basketball court.
Hitting in the number three spot in the Warriors’ batting order this spring, Morris batted a team-high .506 with 39 hits in 23 games. He was second on the team with 18 RBI’s and he led the way with six doubles, five triples and three homers and 24 runs scored. He also pitched in 10 games, with two starts, and recorded two saves and one win.
"He’s very deserving (of the Grosh Award)," Warriors’ baseball coach Bob Locker said. "I thought it wa a great selection. I think there some other really outstanding senior athletes, both male and female this year, but he’s a very worthy candidate."
"As I said in his reference letter, I just think he has an amazing work ethic," Locker added. "He has some natural ability, and sometimes it’s easy to just try to get by on your ability or to work at it to some degree. But his work ethic is just amazing. He works at it every single day and it’s like a craft to him. He finds way to improve little things here and there. When things are going good, he still has the same protocol. He still goes out and hits endless buckets of balls. When things aren’t going well, he goes out, makes the corrections he needs to make, and he just goes about things the right way."
That goes for his leadership responsibilites as well. Locker, a first-year head coach for the Warriors this spring, noted that Morris understood his role as a team leader and didn’t shy away from it.
"I think he’s got natural leadership skills," Locker remarked. "The kids look to him during baseball season. He was our leader. The other kids kinda fed off of him and I think he acknowledged that … He understood that the kids looked up to him and therefore he had to lead by example. He’s not overly demonstrative, his actions speak and he’s just a leader by example."
Morris’ senior year included two ankle injuries sustained during basketball season, but he and his coaches are hoping that injuries are a thing of the past as he looks toward his career at Liberty University.
Asked if he has any doubts about how Morris will do in college, Locker said, "I don’t have any doubts about anything he has control over. If he stays healthy, I don’t have any doubts about how he’ll go about his business and his work ethic. I think he’ll be very successful."
Count Warwick boys basketball coach Jeff Landis as another person who sees Morris being very successful after leaving Warwick.
"He will excel because he won’t accept anything else," Landis said. "Some young kids put pressure on themsevles and I think Tyler has done that from day one, but he’s able to handle it. Some people don’t handle pressure well, whereas I think Tyler he never shys away from pressure situations. He wants the ball on the mound, he wants to be at the plate when the game is being decided or he wants to take the shot if it’s a tie game. I expect he’ll do great things."
Morris did great things for the Warriors during hoops season after missing 10 games due to a pre-season ankle injury. Once returning to the lineup, the Warwick boys won seven of their next eight games. Unfortunately, an injury to his other ankle cost him the team’s final three games of the season.
But he averaged 11.1 points in the 10 games that he played, with 20 three-pointers.
"It would have been very easy (for Tyler) to feel sorry for himself, especially the second time (suffering an injury)," Landis said. "But he didn’t do that. He was the rest of the team’s biggest fan while he was out and he worked very hard when he came back. Our success when he was there was no coincidence. It happened for a reason. He was that good of a player."
In addition to his athletic abilities, Morris’ leadership and work ethic were also very evident on the basketball floor.
"(Tyler) is a tremendous athlete, but I’m not so sure that’s what the (Grosh) Award is all about," Landis said. "I mean, he was a tireless worker. You don’t miss a month of basketball and then come back and shoot 45 percent from the three-point line if you haven’t work on your game. Whereas I didn’t see Tyler a lot over the summer because baseball is his number one thing, it was still obvious that he found time to work on his game because I don’t think anyone shot a much higher percentage from three-point land in the league, let alone on our team. That shows something about his character."
"I think it’s great (for Tyler to win the Grosh Award)," Landis said. "There’s a lot of worthy candidates and I can’t think of anyone more deserving than Tyler. He had a lot of struggles health-wise during the season for us and he never once let it affect him outwardly and let it show. He was always there to pull for his teammates."
More GROSH AWARD, page B-4