BY MICHAEL KELLY
CLIFTON PARK — In recent years, Shenendehowa’s athletic teams have been on an incredible run of success, producing one championship-winning team after another at the varsity level.
A large crop of the student-athletes that have made such a stretch possible gathered Wednesday for the Plainsmen’s first National Letter of Intent signing ceremony of the school year. Together, the 17-strong cast was a starry one, a group whose collective resume already includes 32 Section II team championships.
“It’s great to be around people like this all the time because you get to share in each other’s successes and experience the whole Shenendehowa feeling,” said senior wrestler Kevin Parker, who has helped the Plainsmen to five Section II team titles in his sport — not to forget his individual state championship.
Parker signed Wednesday to compete next year for Princeton University, while Julia Samson will join him in the Ivy League when she competes for the Columbia University women’s swimming and diving squad; three athletes — Kelly Barkevich for softball, Emily Fraser for field hockey, and Jordyn Marr for women’s lacrosse — signed to compete next year for the University at Albany, while two more — Ben Anderson for baseball and Carly Boland for women’s basketball — are headed to rival Binghamton University; and, in another highlight, nationally-prized recruits Ian Anderson and Kevin Huerter made official their decisions to compete for Vanderbilt University baseball and University of Maryland men’s basketball, respectively.
“This is the largest class we’ve ever had,” athletic director Chris Culnan said at the event, which required four tables lined up next to each other to accomodate all of the day’s honored guests.
A tight one, too. Samira Sangare — who will play women’s basketball at Dominican College — said the opportunity to celebrate alongside hoops teammates Boland and Stonehill College-bound Morgan O’Brien was an honor.
“Signing with not only my best friends from basketball, but also the kids I’ve grown up with, it’s so much fun,” Sangare said. “Our class is so big and having a school that is so successful in sports and getting to sign with everyone is so cool.”
Olivia Robbins, set to compete in track and field at Northeastern University, echoed Sangare’s sentiment. Robbins — who signed along with high school teammate Danielle Jordan, who will compete in cross country and track and field for the University of Connecticut — said it was special to get to be a part of such a large signing.
“To know we’ve all worked so hard to get here, it’s great to know we’ve all been successful and get to share in each other’s successes,” Robbins said.
Also sharing in those successes were diving teammates Alyssa Campone and Sydney Weiskopf, who will compete next year at the University of Rhode Island and the University of Richmond, respectively; Le Moyne College-bound baseball player Nick Jacques, who transferred back to Shenendehowa this year after previously attending La Salle Institute; and, Meghan Pendergast, who will compete collegiately for the George Mason women’s lacrosse team.
“We all support each other and that makes it a great atmosphere,” Robbins said. “It’s the ‘Gang Green Nation,’ and we’re all one big happy family.”