Senior duo set standard for leadership at Ligonier Valley

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Wednesday, May 13, 2020 | 4:11 PM


Editor’s note: This is the 11th in an 18-part series profiling nominees for the Westmoreland County Scholar-Athlete Excellence Awards.

Jane Garver and Michael Petrof, Ligonier Valley’s nominees for the Westmoreland County Scholar-Athlete award presented by Judge John J. Driscoll, were leaders at their school both on and off the field.

Garver was a senior captain and four-year starter on the softball team. She will attend Robert Morris.

Petrof was a four-year starter and senior captain on a football team that set numerous records. He’ll attend the United States Naval Academy and is scheduled to report to Annapolis, Md., on June 25.

“I was very honored to be picked for such a prestigious award, to be picked and held in such high esteem, and I feel blessed for all the coaches, teachers and administrators,” Petrof said.

Not only is Petrof an outstanding football player, he excels in the classroom by maintaining a 3.92 GPA and earning high honors all four years in high school. He also was a four-time all-state academic team member.

He was named to the Big 33 team, was a two-time Tribune-Review all-star and was a Mr. PA Football lineman of the year finalist.

“Being part of the team that set all the records for consecutive wins and winning the Heritage Conference championship this past year was my biggest memory,” Petrof said. “Also being part of two PIAA District 6 championship teams and making it to the finals four consecutive seasons is pretty special.”

Petrof said he can’t wait to begin his collegiate career and get a chance to play football for the Naval Academy.

“What a great group of men I’m joining,” Petrof said. “It meant so much getting the appointment and serving your country. It will be home for the next four years.”

While his senior year was cut short, he still finds a way to train. He has worked with the trainer of former Pitt and current Los Angeles Rams lineman Aaron Donald. He also talked to Donald and learned different workout techniques and moves from the NFL’s top defensive lineman.

“He’s really quick,” Petrof said. “I’m learning, and hopefully it will help me in college. His workouts are so intense. Learning from him is like a high school basketball player learning from Michael Jordan.”

Garver said her most memorable moment in sports came in 2017 when Ligonier Valley defeated Central-Martinsburg, 1-0, to advance to the PIAA District 6 championship game at Penn State against Philipsburg-Osceola.

She was a Tribune-Review Terrific 10 all-star in 2019. She led her team in RBIs, home runs and ERA all three seasons.

“I was shocked and surprised to learn about being nominated,” Garver said. “I was really happy when I found out.”

Garver was disappointed she missed her senior season because of coronavirus restrictions.

“I was extremely disappointed because it was my senior year,” she said. “It was hard for me to understand at first, but it was for the best.”

The PIAA District 6 playoffs would be starting this week, and Garver said she knew her team would have done well.

Now her focus is on Robert Morris.

“When I visited, I knew it was the place for me,” Garver said. “It’s a great university, great team and it has great coaches. It was perfect for me.”

Garver said the coronavirus pandemic has taught her not to take things for granted, even the little things.

“It’s made me stronger,” she said. “It’s given me hope.”

The banquet originally was scheduled for April 27 but postponed. The Driscoll committee still is holding out hope to honor the 36 student-athletes from the 18 county schools with a banquet sometime this summer.

“These students need this,” Driscoll said. “They’ve had their senior year end abruptly, and it would be great to give them a banquet if they want.”

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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