By Maddy Vitale
AJ Oves, of Ocean City, says he is ready to head off to St. Joseph’s University in the fall to row for the crew team.
He’s excited about becoming a Hawk at the Division I school in Philadelphia.
“They are an amazing and very competitive team. I’m really excited to row at such a high level and see where I can stand,” AJ said Monday. “St. Joe’s ended up being the right choice for me. I liked every aspect of the school and how it is right on the river.”
Oves and 11 other student-athletes were recognized during a college commitment ceremony at the high school, where parents and friends filled the library and snapped pictures with their cellphones.
Athletic Director Vince Leavey said with the 12 high school athletes announcing their college plans, the total number of Ocean City student-athletes to be playing at the next level is 41, which he called outstanding.
“These students are all great kids and great athletes,” Leavey told the audience. “It is an honor to be a part of this. They are not only student-athletes, but outstanding students.”
For the 18-year-old AJ Oves, academics has always been a priority. He plans on majoring in biology, but he is not sure what he would like to do with his degree just yet.
During AJ’s high school career, he spent the first year in the freshman boat, but the last three rowing varsity.
He said he owes his success and strength to his parents, Donna and Alex Oves.
“My parents really have always been there to support me through tough training days and there are plenty of them,” AJ said. “They also went to all of my regattas.”
Donna Oves said the entire family is so proud of AJ and happy he is attending college nearby.
“We will get to go to all of his regattas,” she noted. “He is our oldest and he is the first one to play college-level sports.”
Erica Stratten, 18, of Ocean View, who is in the dance program at Ocean City High School, will attend Coastal Carolina University, where she will do all types of dancing from hip-hop to jazz.
Erica, who has been dancing since she was 3 years old, plans on majoring in science and hopes to become a physician’s assistant.
“I love dancing. I’ve been doing it since I was little. I’m looking forward to being on the dance team,” she said.
Denise Stratten, Erica’s mother, said she was excited for her daughter, but she wished that she was attending school closer to home.
In addition to AJ Oves and Erica Stratten, these student-athletes were recognized for their achievements and will go on to play at the college level:
Andrea Teofanova – Swimming – Carnegie Mellon University
Ben Wiley – Swimming – Rowan University
Jack Branin – Crew – U.S. Merchant Marine Academy
Mackenzie Matura – Track & Field – Stockton University
Kevin King – Track & Field – Rowan University
Gavyn Fox – Track & Field – Widener University
Sophia Gresham – Track & Field – Rowan University
Samantha Levai – Track & Field – Ursinus College
Molly Hoffman – Basketball – Rowan College at Gloucester County
TJ Stanton – Golf – Ursinus College