Folks around Avon High School have a lot of good things to say about senior Andrew Griffin, but Orioles football coach Mark Bless might have the highest praise of all, considering the school’s athletic and academic history.
“He’s the highest GPA kid we’ve had in our program, he’s active in all sorts of other organizations at school and he’s a three-sport athlete,” Bless said. “He’s probably second to none with what he’s accomplished here.”
The tightest competition in that regard might come from his three siblings — sister Katie, who played volleyball at Purdue; brother Kendall, a former basketball player at Wright State; and sister Rachel, who plays volleyball at Indiana State.
Andrew will finish with a 4.98 GPA, slightly ahead of Kendall’s 4.8, and is one of 13 recipients of Indiana High School Athletic Association’s Cato Memorial Scholarship. After his Orioles baseball season ends, he’ll have nine varsity letters, one more than Katie and Kendall, and two ahead of Rachel.
When the youngest child of Clark and Julie Griffin leaves for Princeton University, where he’ll play football for the Ivy League Tigers, a notable chapter in Avon lore will come to a close.
“We’ve told Clark and Julie they need to write a book on parenting great kids who are great athletes and students,” Bless said. “Athletics were important to all of them, but it didn’t make them who they were.”
The Griffins’ eventual total of 32 varsity letters is believed to be the most ever by an Avon family. Their parents were no slouches in their day, either. While Clark earned six letters at Cardinal Ritter, Julie pulled a whopping 12 at Danville.
“We definitely got the athletic ability from our mom, but Dad’s always been there with good advice on what to do and how to act as a competitor,” Andrew said.
And why did all the Griffin kids wear No. 15? Vince Carter, of course. Kendall liked the former Toronto Raptors star as a kid, started wearing his number, and it just became the family tradition.
While the number is the same, Andrew took different parts of his siblings in building his own identity.
“Katie was like a second mom, who I learned discipline from,” Andrew said. “Kendall was my idol and I wanted to be like him, so anytime someone compares us, it’s the ultimate compliment. And Rachel, she won two state titles, so she taught me that championship drive.”
A 35-34 double-overtime semistate loss to eventual Class 5A football champ Center Grove left Griffin two wins shy of his own title. The 6-foot, 195-pounder had a season to remember, as he set six school records, including most catches in a season (88) and career (139), and receiving touchdowns for both (19, 29).
Nearly five months removed, the Center Grove result still stings.
“Every one of us would replay that game again if we could,” Andrew said.
Already committed to Princeton, Andrew didn’t have to play his final basketball season for the Orioles, who went 8-18, but he doesn’t quit on his commitments.
“I had a job to do,” he said. “I’d given a few years to the program, and I knew if I went out there, played hard for three months and did all I could, I’d give something to the team.”
His final Orioles campaign will come as a left fielder. When he plays his final game, it’ll be the last of approximately 700 his family has been a part of at Avon.
There’s a new generation, however. Peter Maples, 1, is the son of sister Katie and Tom Maples, a former Orioles basketball and golf coach, and current caddie to PGA Tour pro Patrick Rodgers.
“We already have the countdown going for him,” Andrew said. “Katie, Kendall, Rachel and myself, we hope all our kids get to do the same things we did.”