Wrestlers weren’t the only mid-Michigan athletes to sign a letter of intent with the University of Michigan on Wednesday.
Okemos diver Carly Schaefer also signed with the Wolverines.
“She worked really hard this past summer with Legacy Diving in Ypsilanti,” said Mike Wagner of the Spartan Diving Club, who also coaches Schaefer at Okemos in the winter. “She committed herself emotionally to this, and made a determination that this is what she was going to do.
“I’m real proud of her. She’s a dedicated kid who has come a long way.”
Schaefer was very impressed with Michigan diving coach Kongzheng “KZ” Li, a three-time member of the Chinese Olympic team who won a bronze medal on the platform at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. From 1975 to 1988, Li won 25 gold medals, 14 silver medals and 10 bronze medals in more than 50 international competitions. In his 20 years of coaching, he served seven years at Minnesota and the past three at U-M.
“The majority of schools I was looking at weren’t in the Big Ten,” Schaefer said. “I received the offer two to three weeks ago, a couple of days after my official visit, and was re.”
Schaefer earned LSJ diver of the year honors a year ago, and will compete in the Division 2 state meet on Friday and Saturday at Oakland University in Rochester.
A former LSJ player of the year in another sport, Erin Binkowski of Eaton Rapids, will sign a letter-of-intent today to play softball at Western Michigan University.
“I believe she is the best power hitter in the state of Michigan, a good leader and a good pitcher as well,” Eaton Rapids softball coach Scott Warriner said. “Western is getting a young lady who is going to help them out in many ways.”
Binkowski has helped the Greyhounds to back-to-back Softball Classic and district titles as well as regional final appearances.
“It’s not simply a matter of her having outstanding talent, which she has,” Warriner said. “She’s earned this opportunity with a lot of hard work for a very long time. She’s always putting in extra work with pitching lessons, hitting lessons, and staying after practice.”
Binkowski was impressed with WMU coach Kathy Leitke and assistant Jamie Spitale when she visted Kalamazoo.
“Everything clicked,” she said. “Western was the right fit academically and athletically.
“It’s great to find out that the work pays off, and I would like to thank eveyone who helped me get to where I am.”