By Rob Kiser
For the second straight year, a Piqua student-athlete will be one of the few in the country to receive a prestigious scholarship and have NFL Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz visiting the Piqua High School campus.
After Jack Schmiesing was a finalist for the U.S. Army/Pro Football Hall of Fame Award of Excellence a year ago, PHS senior Ashley Ho has received the same honor this year.
Munoz will present Ho with the honor Wednesday afternoon at Piqua High School.
There are only 25 finalists for the award — and only two others from Ohio.
“I didn’t realize what an honor this was before we went through this process with Jack (Schmiesing) last year,” Piqua athletic director Chip Hare said. “We aren’t talking about 25 people in the state — but 25 people in the entire country that receive this honor. I think it says a lot about our students at Piqua High School.”
Pro Football Hall of Fame Chief Operating Officer and Executive Producer George Veras was excited to make the announcement.
“The Pro Football Hall of Fame is proud to partner with the U.S. Army to pay tribute to the fine young men and women who will shape the future of our country. Congratulations to the 25 finalists in 2017 who exemplify the Hall’s core values of commitment, integrity, courage, respect and excellence.”
Mark Davis, deputy assistant secretary of the Army agreed.
“These students embody the excellence and dedication that both Army soldiers and Pro Football Hall of Famers bring to their own lives every day,” he said. “They give their best to achieve their goals and give back to the communities. The Army is proud to be honoring this group as the 2017 Award for Excellence finalists.”
Ho is no exception — excelling both on an off the field.
In volleyball, she was a second team All-GWOC American selection this year, accumulating 207 kills and 129 blocks over the last two seasons.
In track and field, she is a two-time regional qualifier with hopes of qualifying for the state meet this year.
And she is just as impressive off the field.
“Ashley (Ho) has been highly active in a lot of different activities and work in the community,” Hare said. “She is trying to decide now between Duke and Mercer — and I know she has considered UCLA, so that is quite impressive.”
The finalists will be hosted at a special luncheon at the Hall of Fame on Aug. 5, when the winners will be announced.
They will also have the opportunity to attend the enshrinement ceremony for the class of 2017 — Morten Andersen, Terrell Davis, Kenny Easley, Jerry Jones, Jason Taylor, LaDainian Tomlinson and Kurt Warner.
“I thought this was something we might be doing every five or 10 years,” Hare said about a Piqua athlete receiving the honor.
The exceptional qualities of Piqua student athletes — and Ho specifically — changed all that.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.