Category Archives: NCAA Commitments

JT Chamberlain Fulfills Longtime Dream, Signs to Assumption College Hockey

JT and parents, Judy and John Chamberlain

By Matt Liebowitz

JT Chamberlain’s dream has come true. And like any sought-after goal, his took a long time, a lot of early mornings, persistence, and patient, proud parents.

On Wednesday, April 12, JT formally committed to play hockey next year for the Greyhounds of Assumption College in Worcester, MA. JT, a Williston Northampton senior and forward for the Wildcats, has been anticipating this since around the time he could lace up his own skates.

“It’s awesome,” said JT, 19, who plans to study sports management. “I’ve been waiting for this since I was five years old.”

As a young member of the North Suburban Wings and the Greater Boston Vipers, both youth teams near his home in Amesbury, MA, JT said he knew even then that he always wanted to play college hockey. His dad, John, was on board. In fact, he was behind the bench.

JT Chamberlain signing his letter of intent

John coached JT from the time he was five until he went to private school, first at Pingree School near Boston, and then at Williston as a junior.

With coaches Derek Cunha and Kyle Hanford at the helm, Williston helped develop JT’s skills on the ice. But what the school also gave JT, his parents said, went beyond the rink.

“He’s grown up, he’s much more mature,” said JT’s mom, Judy, an assistant preschool teacher in Amesbury. “Apart from the bond with the students, especially the kids on his team, [Williston] has prepared him for the next step.”

John, who has worked for the Federal Air Marshal Service since 1991, echoed his wife’s sentiments, citing JT’s resolve even when times have been tough.

“This school’s developed him into a man,” John said, adding that coaches Cunha and Hanford helped guide him athletically and “keep him on the straight and narrow.”

When JT hits the ice for Assumption in the winter, he’ll have the added benefit not just of maturity, strength, speed, and stick skills, but a little rivalry to stoke the competitive flame. His current teammate, Nick Schofield, will be suiting up for Stonehill College. The two teams face off three times next season.

With a smile on his face and Schofield within earshot, JT took the opportunity to throw the proverbial first punch.

“I’m going to nail him,” he said.

A Lifetime on Skates Leads Nick Schofield to a Skyhawk Slot

Nick Schofield ’17

Nick Schofield, who on April 12 signed a letter of intent to play hockey at Stonehill College next fall, recalls a proud moment in the rink. It lasted only 10 seconds, but it made the difference in the game. Playing Millbrook School at Williston’s Lossone Rink this winter, the teams were tied, and 17 seconds remained on the overtime clock. Before the face-off, Nick told his defenseman he would take possession of the puck back and pass it to him. “’We are going to get it and win this game,’” he told his teammate. “The puck dropped and I won the draw back and we executed,” Nick said. “I scored the winning goal with seven seconds left, and it is a moment I will never forget.”

Unforgettable plays like that one can add up to a great mental slideshow of a lifetime spent on skates. Nick certainly has had enough of them. He started skating at age three and started hockey a year later. His older sister Caitlin and brother Kelley exposed their little brother to a variety of sports, and Nick picked each one up with ease, according to his mother, Bridget Schofield.

Nick and his parents, Bridget and David Schofield

For Nick, what kept him interested in playing was the feeling he got when he scored a goal. “The joy it brings me to this day is the reason why I love the game,” he adds. “The only thing I love more than scoring goals is helping my teammates score them, because I know how happy I get when I score, I love being able to see my teammates faces when they do.”

And what coach wouldn’t love that? Boys varsity hockey coach Derek Cunha has seen Nick transform from a sophomore to a senior. “Nick has been an impact forward for us for all three years combining skill, size, and a strong hockey sense,” he said. “He should head into Stonehill with the opportunity to be a top prospect as a freshman. I suspect that similar to his time at Williston, he will earn quality playing time right from the start and, as he quickly adapts to the college level, he will see similar success as he has had here.”

Hockey players congratulate Nick on his signing to Stonehill College.

Nick said he’s hoping to use his skills as much as possible as a Stonehill Skyhawk. The school is part of the NCAA Division II Northeast-10 Conference, one of the top Division II conferences in the nation. As he sees it, his strength is having a high “Hockey IQ.” “This means I am able to see the ice well and make plays when people are not expecting them,” he said. “Also, I like to think my passing ability is a strong point. Finally, being a center you have to know how to win face-offs, and I have worked very hard at making that a strong point in my game.

Cunha agrees. “Nick has adapted well to playing with different style of players in all three years at Williston,” he said. “He has a strong hockey sense of where to be on the ice and is able to make those around him better.”

David Schofield, Nick’s father, is excited for Nick’s future, and proud of his son’s hockey prowess. But he’s also thrilled that Nick greatly improved academically at Williston. “He’s always been a good athlete,” he said. “But the academics are important to him. He’s worked hard at it. He’s matured at Williston.”

If shining the light on others’ accomplishments is a sign of maturity, Nick has it in spades. After reflecting on his hockey career at Williston, Nick wanted to make sure he thanked his teammate, senior Jo Jo Carbone. “We have been line mates for our three years at Williston, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.”

Williston Student Duncan LeXander Signs to Presbyterian College

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Duncan LeXander and family members at a signing ceremony on campus

Duncan LeXander is headed home, or at least back to the region where he spent most of his life. But like most people who go back to where they’re from after being away, LeXander is returning a changed man, a scholar and athlete on a path to personal and professional success.

On Wednesday, November 16, LeXander formally committed to play Division 1 basketball at Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina. Beginning in the fall, LeXander, a 6’8” shooting guard, will suit up for the PC Blue Hose to compete in the NCAA Division 1 Big South Conference. The Blue Hose schedule will see the 18-year-old rising star, decked out in PC’s traditional royal blue and garnet, face off against top-notch competition including Virginia Tech, North Carolina State, Boise State, and Tennessee. Continue reading

Caroline Wysocki Signs with the University of New Hampshire

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Caroline Wysocki had done her share of traveling as a member of her elite U-18 club soccer team, the FC Stars of Massachusetts, so when it came time to look at colleges, the Agawam senior and honor student wanted to find a school close to home. Her parents couldn’t fault her reasoning, mom Colleen recalls: “She said, ‘If I’m going to be playing soccer for the next four years, I want you all to be able to come and watch me play.’ ”

No doubt they will. Colleen and her husband, Bill, will have to travel only as far as Durham, NH, for their daughter’s home games at the University of New Hampshire next fall. Caroline signed a national letter of intent to play for the Division 1 school in a ceremony Wednesday in the Dodge Room of the Reed Campus Center. As a bonus, her parents can still say their daughter is a Wildcat.

And one that will not soon be forgotten at Williston. “Caroline is one of the best overall athletes that I’ve ever coached,” says soccer coach Jen Fulcher. “She can be dangerous anywhere on the field. We put her up front, and she came up with numerous big goals, numerous game-winning goals, and was a threat from start to finish in every game.”

Indeed, Ms. Wysocki broke the Williston school record for most goals per game in a season, netting 15 in 16 games. That season total is also the second highest in school history.

Such success reflects a work ethic that impresses even her parents. “There were many nights when she would come home after sports practice at Williston,” her mother recalls, “and then go to Lancaster where her club team plays. You’ve got to be a pretty driven kid to be able to come home, sometimes at 10 or 10:30 at night, and then do your homework. I don’t think every kid could handle that, but she was able to. And she still made the honor roll.”

“I love to compete,” says Caroline, who was also recruited to play lacrosse. “And to create friendships with teammates and coaches that are like nothing else. Facing adversity can be difficult, but the positive energy from other people on my team keeps me going.”

One teammate she will miss is Emily MacDonald, who also signed a letter of intent Wednesday with Assumption College. The two have been playing together since they were 9 years old and together formed the core of a Wildcat team that will be hard to replace, says their coach.

Caroline and Emily “represent four-year impact players, both as people and as leaders—they were both captains of the team—and will certainly go down as two of the best players to play here,” Ms. Fulcher says. “They are the perfect balance of talent, personality, and leadership, and making everyone around them better.”

Caroline will be joining a UNH team coached by Steve Welham, who took over the program in 2014. Colleen said her daughter connected with Mr. Welham from their first meeting. “He was so enthusiastic about taking over the program, his vision going forward, and that was definitely another draw,” she says.

The Wysockis, both public school teachers, credit Williston with helping make their daughter’s next step possible. “Williston challenged her, athletically and academically, to a level she would not have experienced elsewhere,” says Colleen. “We cannot say enough about it. For us, it was a privilege to be able to have our daughter go there.”

View photos from the signing ceremony on Williston’s Flickr site.

Aaron James signs with the University of Virginia

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As one of the top-rated U-18 club soccer players in the country, Williston senior Aaron James has traveled extensively with his New England Revolution Academy club and trained with candidates for the U. S. National Team. Still, he says, “Playing under the lights on Sawyer Field are some of my favorite memories. Getting to play in front of friends and community is always exciting.”

Now the Amherst, MA, forward will get the chance to play before the fans at the University of Virginia, a Division 1 soccer powerhouse that won its most recent NCAA championship in 2014. He signed his national letter of intent to play with the Cavaliers Wednesday at a signing ceremony in the Dodge Room of the Reed Campus Center.

Aaron played his freshman and sophomore years as a Wildcat “before receiving a very rare waiver to pursue soccer on this elite national level team,” explains Mark Conroy, Williston’s Director of Athletics. (U.S. Soccer requirements prevented him from continuing with his high school team.) In his time with Williston, notes assistant coach Andrew Syfu, “Aaron made an immediate impact and started on a team that earned a number eight seed in the New England Tournament his freshman year. He was one of two freshman that started and played significant minutes on a senior-heavy team. His sophomore year he played a much more prominent role and was the focus of our offense. He scored 5 goals his sophomore year and 3 goals as a freshman.” That year, he was one of just two sophomores named to the Western New England Prep School Soccer Association all-star team. More recently, Top Drawer Soccer rated him the number 2 club player in the Northeast region and the number 15 club forward in the country.

But he still appreciates his time as a Wildcat. “Playing for Williston was at times challenging because we always played a tough schedule,” Aaron recalls. “However, I enjoyed it and it enhanced my skills as both a leader and competitor.”

As a member of the Revolution Academy club team, Aaron “made 33 appearances, including 21 starts on the season, tallying four goals and eight assists,” the club reports. “He appeared 13 times for the Under-16 team, scoring once and adding five assists, while he also appeared 20 times for the Under-18s, where he notched three goals and three assists.”

At Virginia, he’ll be joining a program that has qualified for the NCAA Division 1 championship tournament a record 35 years in a row. “He’s really excited about Virginia, and so are we,” said his mother Lara, who with his father David attended the signing. “Obviously we are immensely proud of him and all the hard work he has put in. He’s a hard-working kid.”

Before joining the Revolution Academy, Aaron lived with his family in the Washington, D.C., area and played with D.C. United’s Under-14 team. He also served as captain of D.C. Stoddert’s U-13 team. With his decision to attend Virginia, he’ll be returning to the soccer-friendly mid-Atlantic, but taking some of New England with him.

“Williston has had a profound impact not only on me as a player but also on me as an individual,” Aaron says. “It has been a place where I’ve been able to grow and I’m keen to bring these traits I’ve learned with me to the University of Virginia.”

View photos from the signing ceremony on Williston’s Flickr site.

Emily MacDonald Signs With Assumption

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From her sweeper position in the soccer backfield, Emily MacDonald always had a panoramic view of her Williston teammates as they battled their opponents downfield. That perspective may have been a key to her remarkable success. “Something that has always inspired me and keeps me going no matter what the situation might be,” says the senior honor student and team captain from Ludlow, “is seeing other people want something just as bad as you do, or seeing someone working their butt off, which kind of lights the fire for me.”

On Wednesday, however, in the Dodge Room of the Reed Campus Center, all eyes were on Ms. MacDonald, as she signed a national letter of intent to continue her soccer career at Division 2 Assumption College in Worcester.

Among those present was her coach, Jen Fulcher, who did her own share of admiring when Ms. MacDonald was on the field. “Emily is just a beautiful soccer player to watch,” she says. “Much of what she does is so difficult, and she makes it look so easy. We gave up fewer goals this season than we have ever given up. We broke the school record. That is clearly a team effort, but Emily was central to that.”

The previous Williston record was set in 1997, when the Wildcats allowed 12 goals. This year the team gave up a miserly 8 goals over the course of 15 games, and also recorded a record 10 shutouts.

Ms. Macdonald will be joining an Assumption team led by head coach Kevin Meek that finished 10-8-1 last year. Ms. Fulcher says Assumption may move MacDonald to a forward position, which is where she plays for her Elite Clubs National League team, FC FSA. “I really believe she could play anywhere on the field,” Ms. Fulcher says. “She’s one of the most talented kids we’ve ever had when it comes to controlling the ball.”

Emily’s parents, Melissa Kudla and Kurt MacDonald, are looking forward to their daughter’s college career. “We cannot wait to see her play at Assumption,” says her mother. “It will be a very exciting and memorable moment for her when she steps on the field in Worcester for the first time. It hasn’t always been easy—long car rides, a lot of travel, missing events at school—but she has really persevered and remained constant in her goal to play in college.”

 And when she does take the field, she’ll be bringing the memories of her Williston success with her. “Playing soccer at Williston for four years has given me so much more than I ever could have imagined,” she says. “I will always appreciate the support that the girls soccer team was given by the school and I will never forget the amazing memories that the team has given me to remember for the rest of my life.”

View photos from the signing ceremony on Williston’s Flickr site.

Nick Garofano Signs with Army West Point

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Nick Garofano was originally recruited by Williston to play hockey. As a football running back, however, he eventually would rush for more yards and score more points than any player in school history. So what Division 1 sport will the Yorktown Heights, NY, senior be playing next year at the U.S. Military Academy?

Lacrosse, of course.

Mr. Garofano, a three-sport athlete and four-year honor student, signed his national letter of intent with Army West Point Wednesday in a ceremony in the Dodge Room of the Reed Campus Center. He’ll be joining a Black Knights lacrosse team coached by Joe Alberici that reached the Patriot League championship game last year and took the league title in 2010. “On his visit to West Point, he just fell in love with the whole place,” recalls his father, Ralph. “The coaches were just awesome and stayed in touch with him.”

In his three seasons of lacrosse at Williston, Mr. Garofano has scored a total of 77 goals with 69 assists. He was named 1st team All WNESSLA Division 2 after his sophomore season and his junior season, and he was selected as the William LaBelle Offensive player of the year for WNESSLA Division 2 after his junior season. As a player, he has stood out for his athleticism, his strength, and his determination, says his coach Christopher Dietrich. “He’s faster than most of the people who try to cover him. He’s got a really strong shot. He’s just a relentless competitor.”

That same competitive fire also came to serve him well in school, once Nick arrived at Williston, says his father. “He just jumped on board and became very intense in the classroom,” he recalls. “I don’t know if he would have been able to go to an Ivy League-type school or a West Point and be prepared in the classroom without going to Williston. I know he wouldn’t.” Adds his mother, Anna, “His determination and perseverance have made him a well-rounded young man. I couldn’t be more proud of him.”

For his part, Nick credits Williston with providing him with a challenging but supportive environment. “What is so special about the program is that my coaches and teammates all want to see me succeed and pushed me to the best of my abilities, something that is very important to me,” he says. At the same time, says his father, Nick always pushed himself. “He woke up in the morning and went to the gym, always watches what he eats, lifts like a maniac,” he says. “He works hard.”

As dedicated as he is to lacrosse, Nick is not ruling out continuing his football career at West Point. That would not surprise his Williston coaches. “There is no question in my mind that Nick would be a tremendous college football player,” says Mark Conroy, Williston’s director of athletics and head football coach. “He is the finest running back I have had the privilege of coaching during my career.”

Whatever he ends up pursuing, Nick is sure to approach it with that same determination that helped him set athletic records at Williston, say his coaches. As an example, Mr. Dietrich recalled a lacrosse game last year against Taft. “The boy who was covering Nick was a senior, a very, very good defensemen. Nick has a competitive fire. When he is playing against someone who is supposed to be better than him, who is supposed to shut him down, those often are his best individual performances. We won that game 9 to 8.”

As for Nick, he had 5 goals and 3 assists.

View photos from the signing ceremony on Williston’s Flickr site.

Megan Szawlowski ’16 Commits to Central Connecticut

Her family's love of the sport turned a lacrosse player into a gifted competitor
Photo by Mark Mantegna
Photo by Mark Mantegna

Megan Szawlowski ’16 came as close as you can to being born with a lacrosse stick in her hand. At three days old, she was in her mother’s arms, watching from the sidelines as her siblings sprinted across a lacrosse field.

By the time she could walk, Ms. Szawlowski had graduated to goalie position and was facing the merciless play of her four sisters and one brother—all of whom would go on to play lacrosse at American International College in Springfield.

“They used to throw balls at my head!” laughed Ms. Szawlowski on Wednesday as, surrounded by her beaming family, she signed a National Letter of Intent to play lacrosse at Central Connecticut State’s Division 1 program next year.

Call lacrosse her birthright. In the Szawlowski family, playing the game simply a part of the family fabric. This devotion to the sport can be traced to Ms. Szawlowski’s father, Michael, who played lacrosse in high school. He continued playing during a PG year at Williston Academy in 1979.

“I fell in love with the sport here,” he said. “It was one of the best years of my life.”

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Delaney Belinskas ’16 Signs With Boston College

Photo by Mark Mantegna
Photo by Mark Mantegna

When she was 12, the only poster on Delaney Belinskas’ wall was for Boston College.

She had been playing hockey for several years by then, first donning skates in preschool, joining the 12-year-old’s travel team when she was in third grade, and playing through each winter season.

It was an unusual choice for a Floridian, living in what her parents described as the “softball capital of the world.” Yet, when her mother had tried to sign her up for something else—figure skating lessons were an option—Ms. Belinskas held firm. Her big sister, Sydney, was playing hockey and she would, too.

“I had to play with the boys growing up,” Ms. Belinskas said last week. “Coming in [to Williston] as a freshman, everyone was good. I wasn’t used to that.”

On Friday, the senior’s poster choice proved prophetic when she signed a national letter of intent to play with the Division 1 Boston College Eagles. Ms. Belinskas was joined at the ceremony by her teammates Rachel Rockwell ’16, who signed with Providence College, and Morgan Fisher ’16, who signed with the University of Connecticut.

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Morgan Fisher ’16 Signs With University of Connecticut

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Photo by Mark Mantegna

A few years ago, Morgan Fisher told her father that she had two goals: to play for the University of Connecticut and to be part of the U.S.A. Hockey team.

On Friday evening, as Ms. Fisher signed a national letter of intent to play with the UConn Huskies and finally accomplished that dream, family, friends, and coaches wiped away tears. The absence of her father, who taught her to skate and play, was strongly felt.

“It seems just like yesterday she was looking at this school. It just really flew by,” said her mother, Lisa Fisher. “I know her dad is looking down on her now and is so proud of her.”

Ms. Fisher recalled how her father encouraged her interest in hockey by taking her to early sessions at local rinks. In a recent interview about her training, Ms. Fisher explained that those “stick times” were moments to “have fun and be me.”

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