Jackson-Milton girls left behind a long legacy

Enjoying Thursday’s ideal spring temperatures, Sue Prozy sat on the front porch with her father, Pat Keney. But the Jackson-Milton volleyball coach and the school’s athletic director and girls basketball coach looked ahead to the fall.

“What do you expect out of your team,” father asked. Daughter responded, “We’re going to be pretty good. I like some of the younger talent we have, but there’s big shoes to fill.”

The Blue Jays volleyball team went 22-4 in 2012 and the senior class tallied more than 60 wins in their four years. Rachael Obradovich, Paije Kiraly and Zaina Sahli are three seniors who played both volleyball and softball. Their careers on the diamond and as Blue Jays ended with a 2-1 loss to Colonel Crawford in Kent on Thursday.

“I was there,” Prozy said, “and I was crying right along with them.”

Taylor Tharp, Gabrielle Tharp, Maddy Tomaino, Kori Edwards and Michaela Delaney also play volleyball and softball.

“They’re an exceptional group of athletes who have a lot of heart,” Prozy said.

Jackson-Milton has won seven-straight conference titles in volleyball (six in the Inter-Tri County League’s Lower Tier and one in the Upper Tier) and appeared in the regional tournament for four-straight years in both volleyball and softball.

Plus, eight girls play basketball. Kiraly, Sahli and Obradovich helped resurrect a team that went winless in 2010-11 to 28 wins in their junior and senior seasons.

“They’re successful in all sports, not just softball,” softball coach Kelly Snowden said. “It’s amazing what they accomplish every season. They spend so much time together being three-sport athletes. They also have that great mix of competitiveness and friendship.”

Like that time Prozy dropped off a scholarship award at Kiraly’s house one Sunday night.

“And what do you know,” Prozy said. “Caitlin (Carney), Zaina, Maddie (Oblinger, a junior volleyball player who runs track) and Rachael were all there just hanging out.”

Or that other time, just last week, when the softball team went out for ice cream.

“They’ll joke with each other and push each other,” Snowden said. “Somebody joked to another girl, ‘Well you dropped that fly ball, you shouldn’t get Dairy Queen.’ They always have fun with each other.”

Carney, who holds the school record for home runs, didn’t play volleyball. However, she was never far from her friends as the team’s scorekeeper.

“The girls wanted her close,” Prozy said. “She was involved in all of our team dinners and everything. There’s no ‘me’ personalities about the team.”

Snowden agreed, adding, “They do anything I ask them. If I asked Carney to bunt there in the last inning, she would’ve done it without questioning. That’s the kind of team you want and I’m sad to see them go.”

Obradovich, an outside hitter, Sahli, a libero and hitter and Kiraly, who tallied 200 kills in each of her seasons at middle hitter and setter were flexible on the court, too.

“Anywhere,” Prozy said when asked where the senior girls played. “They would go anywhere the team needed them.”

Oblinger, Maddie Tomaino and Erica Hughes, who has 1,000 kills for her career, already, will be counted on for senior leadership in volleyball, next year.

So, even though Thursday evening was used as a time of reflection, even remorse, by those in North Jackson, the future is positive – in three sports – thanks to what a talented senior class has built and left behind.