For the Class of 2022, senior year is just getting under way. But for seven of its members, next year’s plans were sealed this week, when they committed to DI colleges as recruited athletes on National Signing Day on Wednesday.
In the annual ritual, thousands of student-athletes across the nation sign letters of intent, publicly declaring their plans to pursue collegiate athletics at the highest level. It’s a day that represents the culmination of years of hard work and commitment, and the Rivers students who signed on Wednesday were excited to reach this long-sought milestone.
Director of Athletics Keith Zalaski said, “These days stand out to me when I see the family and friends standing with these athletes, and you think about how much time, energy, love, and dedication that families have put into their athletic and academic time at Rivers. We are so lucky to have each of them as a member of this community.” He added, “We look forward to honoring our DIII athletes in the same way soon.”
For the students, it was a moment both to take stock and to anticipate the future. “I am most looking forward to the next level of competition that comes with a supportive team that pushes each other to thrive,” said Ellie Todd, who will be playing field hockey at Wake Forest.
Nik Antic (soccer, Northeastern) is also excited about upping his game. “I’m mostly looking forward to the high level of competition. All of the guys that get onto these teams at the collegiate level have worked extremely hard to get to where they are. This’ll bring many challenges and difficult competitions—and it’s something that I’m very excited about,” he said.
The students’ reasons for selecting a given college are as varied as the sports they play. Antic said that choosing a school close to home was a priority. Todd is excited about the “balance of the high-level athletics and challenging academics” at Wake Forest. That was also a factor for Drew Stephans, who will take his soccer skills to Colgate. “Throughout the recruiting process Colgate has been at the top of my list,” he said. “It has the right mix of competitive academics and athletics that I’m looking for. In addition, I love the campus, coach, and people that I know who attend Colgate.”
Stephans will find at least one familiar face on the team: fellow Rivers co-captain Calvin Lemley also signed a letter of intent to play soccer at Colgate. Other Rivers students who signed on Wednesday are Eve Stone (hockey, Stonehill), Dominic Pasquale (lacrosse, Colorado Mesa University), and Will Potter (lacrosse, Utah).
The students will take with them fond memories of their days at Rivers and gratitude for how the school shaped them. Todd cites as a highlight the field hockey team’s NEPSAC Class B championship in 2019; Antic simply says that any day he was able to play soccer was a good day. “On days where I was feeling the worst—maybe because of a bad test grade or missing out on some homework—I was able to completely brush that off of my shoulders when I got out to practice or to games. The relationships that I developed with my teammates and coaches are ones that have helped me through so much and ones I will never forget,” he said.
Rivers, say these student athletes, was instrumental in bringing them to this point. “I know that without Rivers I wouldn’t have been able to get to where I am today—not only as an athlete, but as a person,” said Antic.
Added Stephans, “Rivers plays in an ultra-competitive league, which requires all of us to work hard at getting better as individuals and as a team. Moreover, we have a great community at Rivers, and that carries over to the soccer team. Being a captain has really forced me and Calvin, our other captain, to ensure that the values we live by as a school community are adhered to on the soccer field.” It’s a good bet the school’s core values—integrity and perseverance—will carry these student-athletes on to collegiate success.