The Record

Recruited athletes honored at ceremony

Lynne Sipprelle, Staff Writer

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Last Monday in Fisher Rotunda, recruited athletes and their families and friends attended the school’s first ever celebratory signing ceremony for recruited athletes. 

The student athletes opened bags of apparel from their respective colleges, signed their recruitment letters, took photos, and enjoyed refreshments. 

Sophia Fikke (12), Freya Lindvall (12) Jason Oh (12), Chidi Nwankpa (12), Aman Sanger (12), Maya Scholnick (12), Kayla Thomas (12), and Nora Burke (12) have all been recruited this year, although Burke could not attend the ceremony. 

Director of College Counseling Initiatives Beth Pili organized the event. “Part of it was in our office we know of other independent high schools that have a similar ceremony celebrating and acknowledging scholar-athletes who are making a commitment to play a sport in college,” Pili said. 

“I think it’s recognizing their love of a sport but their commitment still to academics and to balancing both as a college freshman,” Pili said. 

Sanger, who has been recruited to MIT for squash, thought the ceremony was great, he said. “It was really well put together,” he said. 

“It was a great celebration of the sacrifices that all the athletes made, and I think it was great for them to be publicly acknowledged,” Varsity Squash Head Coach Ron Beller said. Beller is very proud of Sanger, he said. “It’s like seeing someone grow up from a young adolescent to a man now.” 

“It’s really nice to recognize the athletes of Horace Mann, especially since people who do sports outside of school are usually not recognized,” Thomas, who has been recruited to Stanford University for crew, said. 

Thomas “has turned into this major athlete,” her family friend Claudia Knafo ‘80 said. Knafo was screaming on the phone when she found out Thomas had been recruited, she said. “It’s really a dream.” 

Nwankpa, recruited to Lafayette College for track, was excited for the ceremony as well, he said. “It just feels like all my hard work paid off,” Nwankpa said. 

Although the college process for student-athletes hoping to be recruited depends on the league, the sport, the division, and the timing, the process often begins earlier, Pili said. 

Lindvall, recruited to run cross country and track at Franklin & Marshall College, began reaching out to coaches, asking to meet with them, sending them her times, and visiting schools between her sophomore and junior years, she said. 

“The good thing about having a child who’s being recruited for athletics is that the coaches don’t want to hear from parents at all,” Carolyn Fikke P’18 said. Fikke was recruited to Amherst College for soccer. 

The pressure to actually make those communications with coaches is left to the students, not the parents,” Carolyn Fikke said. “My effort was really just to help Sophia work her way through what’s a good match academically and socially, more from a fit perspective.” 

Oh, recruited to Harvard University for fencing, met with the Harvard fencing coach February of his junior year and committed to the school, he said. 

“When I officially got notified I was in was October of my senior year,” Oh said. “It was a huge relief because there’s an idea that when you’re recruited you’re done, but there’s always the possibility that something could go wrong,” he said. 

Oh’s mother, Jeemi Song Oh P’18, really appreciated the ceremony, she said. “I hope everyone enjoys it,” she said. 

Pili hopes to continue holding the signing ceremony each year in the future as a tradition, although it depends on how many athletes are recruited, she said. This year the number of seniors recruited, usually between one and five, was unusually high, she said. 

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Recruited athletes honored at ceremony