Twenty-seven students put pen to paper early Wednesday morning, officially committing to play college athletics for their respective schools. The signing class is one student larger than last year and includes the most football commits as well as the first male lacrosse commit in Heritage history.
The event got off to a loud start in the main theater as the drumline and cheerleaders put on a “pre-game” performance. The signings officially began with Maria Merchand and Tyler Strafaci signing to play golf at the University of South Florida and Georgia Tech University, respectively.
From there, players took their turns walking to the table, putting on their hats, smiling for pictures with family and friends and officially announcing where they will participate in college athletics. These student-athletes signed to schools all across the country ranging from California to New York.
The last signing of the day carried the most suspense, as nobody knew where 4-star defensive end Brian Burns would decide to play. After presenting a Georgia hat and a Florida State hat, Burns covered his face, took a deep breath, and made the announcement that he will attend Florida State University beginning next fall. The entire Burns family then proceeded to take out FSU hats and shirts and began to loudly sing the famous FSU chant. “Tee (Heritage alumnus Tarvarus McFadden) is already there and when I went for my official visit, it just felt like home,” Burns said. As for his future aspirations, he continued, “I just hope to have a successful career at Florida State and if I’m destined to make it to the league, then that would be great.”
Before the football signings, Jarett Alfero became the first male lacrosse player from Heritage to commit at National Signing Day, officially signing to play at Rutgers University.
Girls soccer had quite a day as well, as three players, Alexandra Soree, Dara Magdaleno and Dejah Cason, signed their letters of intent just minutes before hopping on the bus and heading to their 4th state championship game. Soree and Magdaleno are both suffering from leg injuries, and Magdaleno won’t be able to participate in the team’s final game. “I just tell them to play every game like it’s their last,” said Magdaleno, who will miss her second consecutive championship game due to injury.
While many people like to focus on the largest sports programs such as those in the SEC, ACC and BIG 10, three students also committed to Ivy League schools. Football teammates Oren Milstein and Christian Riffle will soon become rivals as Milstein heads to Columbia and Riffle goes to Cornell. Softball player Madison Canby will join Milstein at Columbia this fall, and all three will attempt to bring their teams back to success after disappointing seasons the previous year, all while undergoing the demanding academic schedule of an Ivy League school.
At the end of the day, 27 students committed to their academic and athletic futures. Athletic director Karen Stearns simply thinks the number of commits speaks volumes. “It stands alone and speaks for itself,” said Stearns. “We have had more media attention and more head coaches from top athletic programs than ever before. We are really just a blessed program.”