By Matt Liebowitz
Years of dedication, perseverance, and gratitude led seven Williston seniors to the podium at the school’s Friday, Nov. 10, signing ceremony. For the sheer numbers as well as the enthusiasm of a room packed with parents, classmates, teammates, and coaches, the event embodied the communal Wildcat spirit.
First to ink his commitment to Rollins College, in Winter Park, Florida, was Rob Champigny. Rob will play lacrosse for the Tars in the Division II Sunshine State Conference.
“It feels great,” said Rob, who plans to study business. With his characteristic humor, he added, “I’ll get a strong education, and hopefully play some lacrosse along the way.”
Next up was Shana Hecht, who’ll head to Fairfield, Connecticut, to play lacrosse at Sacred Heart University. Shana, Williston’s goalie, has been playing lacrosse since 5th grade, and said the “welcoming family feeling” of the Division I Sacred Heart Pioneers team just “felt right.”
Shana’s father, Jeffrey, said coming to Williston helped Shana become the mature, responsible student and athlete she is. “I’m very proud of her,” said Hecht. She put in a lot of work and dedication.” Hecht said Shana plans to live in New York City after college, so going to school in Fairfield will be a good gateway to that dream.
Jen Fulcher, the head coach of the lacrosse team, praised Shana’s goalkeeping skills as well as her “contagious positive attitude.”
“She’s a tremendous goalkeeper and works extremely hard,” said Fulcher. “Even more than her talent, she’s an incredible teammate. She’s someone you want on any team.”
Mason Balch was the next student athlete to sign; he’ll play lacrosse for the Division I Bulldogs of Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island.
“It feels unreal,” said Mason, “it finally feels good to get it on paper.” Mason has been committed to play for the Bulldogs since his freshman year.
Both Gabby Jones and Julia MacLean signed their letters of intent to play ice hockey for the Division I Warriors of Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts.
Gabby has been verbally committed to Merrimack since junior year, and said signing the letter makes it all “feel real.”
Alex Tancrell-Fontaine, one of the three ice hockey coaches—along with Christa Talbot Syfu and Erin Davey—praised both Gabby and Julia, citing their abilities as “natural leaders.”
Tori Palumbo was the sixth Wildcat to sign; she will attend University of New Hampshire and play both field hockey and ice hockey at the division I level.
Tori said she’s “nervous but excited,” and “relieved it’s official.”
(The transition should be easy, in name at least; UNH athletes are Wildcats.)
The final signee, Duncan LeXander, committed to play basketball at Charleston Southern University in South Carolina.
Mark Conroy, Williston’s Athletic Director, spoke to the commitment each student has shown, as well as the support network that’s allowed the athletes to thrive.
“We are immensely proud of the accomplishment of these seven student-athletes signing this fall to play at NCAA Division 1 and 2 schools,” Conroy said. “I think it speaks volumes about not only their talent and hard work but the support they received from their entire support network—their families, coaches, teachers, teammates, advisor, and college counselor.
“I am very proud of the role that the Williston community plays in supporting our aspiring college athletes to fulfill their dreams of playing in college,” added Conroy. “I fully expect there will be many more to come this year.”