The “incredible amount of hard work and support” it took to get the 13 college-bound student athletes to the Williston Athletic Center lobby on Monday, Feb. 4, was clearly visible: the standing-room-only crowd included teammates, coaches, and proudly-beaming parents. After introductory remarks by Athletic Director Mark Conroy, the athletes were given center stage, and a well-deserved spotlight.
First recognized was Sally Alrutz, who’ll be swimming next year for the NCAA Division 1 Providence Friars. A six-year senior, Sally was the school’s MVP—in seventh grade. “I don’t think it’s exaggerating to say she’s one of the great swimmers of our history,” Conroy said, noting the three championship teams she’s been part of the past three years.
Sally’s mom, Paula, described the moment as “bittersweet.” A Springfield resident, Sally’s been swimming since age five, and Paula has only missed one meet, when she had to pick up her sister, flying in from Liberia, from the airport. “When I saw her signing,” Paula said, “I was tearing up. I thought, ‘this is real.’”
After Sally was Jake Goodman, the captain of the Williston track team; he’ll be taking that speed and talent—in the 200-meter and 400-meter races—to Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island. Jake, from Longmeadow, Mass., said it’s “a dream come true” to run college track. “I’ve thought about [it] ever since my freshman year,” he said, “and this goal was part of driving me to be the best runner that I could be.” His biggest supporter, Jake said, was his father, who goes to every one of his meets.
As usual, the girls hockey team turned out in force to support two of their own, Maura Holden and Claudia Capone. Maura, who captains not just the ice hockey and field hockey teams, but Williston’s lacrosse team as well, is hitting the ice next year for the Hamilton College Continentals, where she’ll also play field hockey. Claudia will play for the Trinity College Bantams, in Hartford, Conn.
Maura said she feels “relieved and proud,” especially since her parents were at the ceremony to celebrate with her. A four-year senior from Hingham, Mass., Maura appreciated having her entire hockey team in attendance, and is looking forward to playing against Claudia next year.
Claudia will spend the summer working out and training with a skating coach in her hometown of Foxboro, Mass. She’s excited to continue her career at Trinity, and especially to play against Maura. (In the two times the college teams met this year, Claudia noted, they tied one and Trinity beat Hamilton 3-1 in the other.)
Like the hockey team, the Boys Basketball team came out to cheer on Solomon Neuhaus and Tyler Thomas, who’ll be hitting the court for the Gettysburg Bullets and the D-1 Sacred Heart Pioneers, respectively.
Tyler spent his post-graduate year at Williston after graduating from Amity Regional High School in Woodbridge, Conn. He gave credit to his close-knit Wildcat teammates and said he’s excited for this next phase in his young career.
More outspoken about Tyler’s achievements was teammate James Lustig, who said playing with Tyler is “transcendent.” Asked to elaborate on such praise, he said, “really, it’s different than playing with everyone else. He’s such a talented and committed hard worker. And he can jump.” James and fellow teammate Aidan Burke laughed at the understatement. “I mean really jump. And shoot. Really shoot.”
Solomon said getting to “do the thing I love most for the next four years of my life” is a dream come true, something he’s been thinking about since he first picked up a ball at age five. He thanked his parents, noting that his dad “practically became a college basketball recruiting guru” the past few years, helping Solomon in his search and keeping him motivated and positive. He also thanked his advisor, Williston Strength and Conditioning coach Blayne Lapan, who “under the tough, intense exterior … is such a kind and caring man.”
Three football players head to play college ball: co-captain and MVP Christian Anzeveno, who is headed to Trinity College next year, and Thomas Thibault, who’ll play for the Division 1 Columbia Lions in the Ivy League. Thomas’ brother, Xavier, a 2018 Williston graduate, will be his teammate. Wildcat Josh Ofili heads to Brown and will face off against Thomas in the Ivy League. He was not able to be at the signing ceremony Monday night.
Christian admitted it feels “really good,” to have his immediate future planned out, but added, “I want to finish off the year strong. I don’t want ‘senioritis’ to kick in.” Christian will play defensive line next year, and plans on spending the summer “training hard, like always.”
Thomas is planning on a summer of hitting the gym every morning before work; he wants to be physically and academically ready to take advantage of Columbia. Playing football there, Thomas said, means “an opportunity to get the best education [while] representing something with a rich history and trying to leave my mark.”
Heading to Division 1 Bucknell for her water polo prowess, Abbie Coscia has “broken all of our scoring records,” Conroy said in his introduction. Unlike many other athletes who start playing their sport as soon as they can walk, Abbie had “never heard about water polo until she came to Williston,” according to her mom, Meghan Sullivan-Coscia. Since then, her ascent has been quick; she now holds Williston’s records for goals scored in a season as well as all-time goals.
“It’s incredible that she’s found something she’s passionate about,” Sullivan-Coscia said. She then introduced her father, Abbie’s grandfather, Fred Sullivan, who played water polo for Manhattan College, in the Bronx, “sixty years ago.” It was from him, Sullivan-Coscia joked, that Abbie got her talent.
Two lacrosse players, Joey Ford and Gavin Girardin, will take their talents to Merrimack College and Nazareth College, respectively.
“I thought it was a good fit for me,” Joey said of Merrimack, in North Andover, Mass. Joey said the small campus should help him form “stronger bonds with the community.” But the season is still nearly two months away, and Joey is jumping at the chance to get on the field. “I just want to be out there already,” he said.
Gavin can’t wait to do what he loves “at the next level.” He said a big reason he got to this point is his parents, who always “supported and pushed” him.
Emma Gentile, co-captain of the girls lacrosse team, will play Division-1 lacrosse for Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
“I’m kind of stressed,” Emma, a two-year senior from Harwington, Conn., confided. “I’m kind of realizing that it’s going to be a lot more intense. But I’m excited to be part of a Division 1 program and ready to take on the challenge.”
Also pairing her academics with lacrosse is Rachel Burke, will play for the Saints of St. Lawrence University. A five-year day student from Westfield, Rachel said she always knew she wanted to play college lacrosse; throughout the long college search and recruitment process, Rachel said, she made it her “mission and goal” to get to where she is today.
After giving credit to her coaches and teammates, Rachel, true to her charismatic, self-effacing nature, made sure her skills on the junior varsity girls hockey team—“I’m a self-proclaimed star”—were clearly mentioned. Rachel also noted, while laughing, that she “did participate,” in JV swimming and basketball.
See photos here.