Italy Booster Club Gives Scholarships

Image: The Italy Athletic Booster Club awarded four scholarships at the athletic banquet this year.  (L-R) Tommy Rossa, Kelly Lewis, Nikki Brashear, Bobby Wilson, Jasenio Anderson, Shelbi Gilley and Erick Thompson.

The Italy Athletic Booster Club awarded four scholarships at the athletic banquet this year. (L-R) Tommy Rossa, Kelly Lewis, Nikki Brashear, Bobby Wilson, Jasenio Anderson, Shelbi Gilley and Erick Thompson. (Anne Sutherland)

The athletes of Italy High School had a real treat on Monday night at the dome. The Italy Athletic Booster Club hosted the annual athletic banquet with a special speaker and awards to boot. Fan of the year was announced, as well as Gladiator and Lady Gladiator of the Year.

The 2010-2011 Athletic Banquet was opened with a hearty welcome from Booster Club president, Erick Thompson, followed by the introduction of all the senior athletes. Guest speaker, Jason Smithey, uncle of 2011 graduate/Salutatorian, Melissa Smithey was on hand to bring the keynote address.

Jason Smithey graduated from Italy High School in 1991. In that year he won the Class A state championship for the Italy Gladiators in track. He also played football and basketball as a Gladiator. After graduation, he attended the University of Texas at Austin on an athletic scholarship. While he was there, Jason was a 4-time All Southwest Conference athlete. In 1992, he attended the United States Junior Championships and finished 4th. In 1994, Jason qualified for the NCAA National championships where his team finished 5th in the nation.

After having rotator cuff surgery in 1995, Smithey came back his senior year and led his team to a come from behind Southwest conference championship for his fourth conference ring in 1996.

While at UT, Jason was on the student/athlete advisory committee headed by coach David McWilliams. Jason graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1996. He is a four year letterman and is the only athlete in Texas Track and Field history to be named captain of the team for three years which was voted on by his peers. Smithey finished his career as the eighth ranked discus thrower in UT history.

More recently, Jason was tabbed for a three year term on the Longhorn Hall of Honor selection committee with Darrel Royal, Earl Campbell, DeLoss Dodds and David McWilliams among others.
Professionally, Smithey has risen to the rank of Lieutenant as a Dallas firefighter and has operated three businesses and employed up to 20 people at one time. Smithey is on the Children’s council committee at his church and coaches little league baseball in Waxahachie. Jason has lived in Ellis County all except 6 years of his life. He and his wife Theresa have three beautiful children. (Biography contributed by Karen Mathiowetz).

Fan of the Year was awarded to Richard Cook. Last year’s recipient, Birdie Bell, and Erick Thompson presented Cook with his yard sign, t-shirt and season pass to any Gladiator sporting event. Cook said, “I have been watching Italy sports for 43 years and I have seen some great athletes come through-both female and male.” He went on to tell the graduates to always put God first in everything. Coach Bales commented on Cook, “There are few things in life you can count on but Richard Cook is one of them.”

Each team was introduced and awards were given. In each case, the JV was introduced as well.

Cheerleaders were acknowledged by Coach Bales.

Coach Stacy McDonald announced:Cross Country awards:

  • MVBoy: Caden Jacinto
  • MVGirl: Kaitlyn Rossa

Coach McDonald announced Girls Basketball awards:

  • Defensive Player of the Year-Jimesha Copeland
  • Offensive Player of the Year-Kaitlyn Rossa

Coach Heather Richters announced Volleyball awards:

  • Offensive Player of the Year-Kaitlyn Rossa
  • Defensive Player of the Year-Bailey Bumpuss

Coach Heather Richters announced girls Track awards:

  • MVP-Jimesha Reed

Coach Craig Bales announced Football awards:

  • Offensive MVP-Ethan Simon
  • Defensive MVP-Jasenio Anderson

Coach Aidan Callahan announced:Boys Basketball awards:

  • Defensive MVP-Jase Holden
  • Offensive MVP-Jasenio Anderson

Coach Aidan Callahan announced Tennis awards:

  • Female MVP-Lisa Olschewsky
  • Male MVP-Cruz Enriquez

Coach Jeff Richters announced:
Powerlifting-MVP-3 time state qualifier-Kaitlyn Bales

Coach Jennifer Reeves announced Softball awards:

  • District Catcher of the Year-Alyssa Richards
  • District Pitcher of the Year-Megan Richards
  • Defensive MVP-Katie Byers
  • Offensive MVP-Alyssa Richards

Coach Josh Ward announced Baseball awards:

  • Varsity Pitcher All District and Defensive MVP-Justin Buchanan
  • Offensive MVP-Ethan Simon

Mrs. Tanya Parker announced the high GPA in the athletic program:

  • Male-Ryan Ashcraft
  • Female-Melissa Smithey

Keith Davis Award, presented by Elmerine Bell and Brenda Davis was presented to Megan Richards and Heath Clemons.

Margie and Cherelle Riley presented the David Henderson award to Bobby Wilson.

Jimmy Davis Award-Heath Clemons
Robert Lewis Memorial-Heath Clemons
Nancy Ferguson Carter Award-Megan Richards
Loyd Davidson Award-Colton Campbell
Lady Gladiator of the Year-Megan Richards
Gladiator of the Year-Jasenio Anderson

Booster Club president Erick Thompson, vice-president Tommy Rossa and secretary Kelly Lewis presented four scholarships from the Booster Club:
Bobby Wilson
Jasenio Anderson
Shelbi Gilley
Nikki Brashear

Each coach discussed the events of each season and was excited about the next year’s athletic program. From basketball to track, the outlook is good for the upcoming seasons. Coach Bales concluded the banquet with a positive outlook at next year’s athletics. “We have had our ups and downs, great highs and low lows but their effort was fantastic. The seniors have laid the groundwork for our future players.”

Go Gladiators!