COLLEGE BASKETBALL: TIOGA'S AYRES SIGNS TO PLAY BASKETBALL, SOFTBALL AT ELMIRA COLLEGE (2021-04-01)
By TIM BIRNEY
Valley Sports Report
TIOGA CENTER — Olivia Ayres felt an immediate “connection” with Elmira College, so the Tioga senior signed a National Letter-of-Intent to play basketball for the Soaring Eagles here Wednesday in a brief ceremony in the high school foyer.
“I chose Elmira because the coaches made me feel like I was a part of their family. I connected with them immediately,” said Ayres.
“The campus is beautiful, and I was on a Zoom call with the girls on the team, and they told me all about the school,” she added. “I think it’s a great fit for me.”
Ayres said Elmira College’s proximity to her Smithboro home was important.
“All the colleges I looked at were pretty close,” she said. “Elmira was perfect because it’s only 30 minutes away from home.
“My family is the most important thing in my life,” added Ayres. “It will be nice to be close, so I can see them often, and they can watch me play.”
Ayres will graduate as the school record-holder at Tioga for most 3-pointers in a season (69 in 2019-20), and most 3-pointers in a game (7), which she accomplished four times.
Tioga coach Joe Robinson said Ayres’ desire to play will help her be successful at the next level.
“Olivia really loves the game of basketball, so she’s going to give maximum effort in whatever they want her to do,” he said. “Her work effort is unquestioned.
“Every practice, she stayed late to shoot. I expect she’ll do a lot of that,” added Robinson.
Ayres knows she has work to do to play at the next level.
“I need to get in better shape to play at the collegiate level,” said Ayres. “And, I need to work on driving it to the hoop. “
“There are things she’s going to have to work on — her ball handling and her strength for sure,” said Robinson. “She’s going to see a lot more man-to-man defense, and stronger girls at the next level.”
Ayres will also play softball at Elmira College.
“I know I’ll have to work on my overall game, especially making more accurate throws,” said Ayres.
“I’m confident in my slap-hitting, but I think I can improve my base running, and be a better lead-off hitter,” she added.
As a sophomore, Ayres hit .441, with 21 runs scored, 16 stolen bases, and nine RBI.
A three-sport athlete at Tioga, Ayres has 42 career goals and 17 assists for the Lady Tiger field hockey program.
Ayres is thankful for the opportunity to continue playing after high school.
“Most importantly, I’d like to thank God for my ability, and the opportunity he’s given me to play basketball,” she said. “I also want to thank Joe and Josh Robinson, Mrs. Klossner, Miss Hills, Miss Riggs, and all of my teammates for pushing me to be a better athlete, and for always supporting me.
“I’d like to thank my travel coach Brian Miller and the Lady Huskies. He has coached me for six years.
“I’d also like to thank Alpha Tier Athletics,” added Ayres. “I am extremely grateful to play with them because this year with Covid we weren’t allowed to play until the summer and fall — they gave me the opportunity to play.”
Ayres will major in Early Childhood Education and plans on teaching.
“My plan is also to become a coach,” she said. “I want to coach basketball, softball, and probably field hockey, too.”
IN PHOTO 1: Tioga senior Olivia Ayres. IN PHOTO 2: Seated, Olivia Ayres is flanked by her father Ayres and mother Val. Standing from left: Armond and Patricia Vrooman (grandparents), Arielle Ayres (sister), and Alfred Ayres (grandfather). IN PHOTO 3: Seated, from left: Field hockey coach Jodi Riggs, Olivia Ayres, and former softball coach Heather Klossner. Standing from left: Lady Huskies travel basketball coach Brian Miller, Tioga softball / JV basketball coach Stephanie Hills, and Tioga basketball coach Joe Robinson. … PHOTOS PROVIDED.