Athletes open door to possibilities with college choices - East Valley Tribune: Ahwatukee Foothills

Athletes open door to possibilities with college choices

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Posted: Sunday, February 6, 2011 8:00 am | Updated: 4:37 pm, Tue Oct 4, 2011.

The tables on the stage at Desert Vista's Dr. Joe McDonald's Auditorium seemed to go on forever.

Of course, at a closer look there was a clear and concise end to the tables.

But for the student athletes sitting there the possibilities are never ending.

Wednesday was National Singing Day for collegiate athletes, meaning for some sports it was the first official day the athletes could sign their letters of intent.

Mountain Pointe didn't have an official ceremony, but had a handful of athletes sign on to the next level.

Desert Vista had 12 athletes from four different sports agreeing to continue their athletic careers, heading all over the country.

No one is going to be further from home than soccer player MacKenzie Semerad, who is heading off to East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C.

"It's very scary, and I am not going to know anyone," said Semerad, a midfielder for the Thunder, who play Gilbert in Saturday's Class 5A Division I quarterfinals. "I look forward to meeting new people, the team and having a great career. I was blown away by the campus, their style of play and the coaches."

Semerad chose ECU over Coastal Carolina, Oregon, Arizona State and Northern Arizona. She could have stayed in state but chose to head to the East Coast for the next handful of years. It's never an easy to decision, but it opens a world of possibilities.

"We'll see where we all end up," Semerad said of the entire group, including four of her teammates. "It's hard to say what is going to happen four or five years from now. I am sure we are all comfortable with our decisions today, and we are really excited to see what is next."

Joining Semerad at the table from the Thunder girls soccer program were Katelyn Tupponce (New Mexico State), Nicole Adams (Idaho), Kyla Neale (Alabama State University) and Ellen Trotter (Northwest Oklahoma State).

The boys soccer team had one commitment in goalie Chris Gosselin as he signed with Viterbo University, a NAIA program in La Crosse, Wis.

The boys club lacrosse team is keeping it local as Conor McLaughlin and David Sartori are heading to Grand Canyon University, a Division II program, and will be roommates.

The program is in its fourth year of existence and has a new head coach in Jeff Guy, who played back east and recently coached at Scottsdale Chaparral High.

"It's great to have a Division II program in Arizona as an option," McLaughlin said. "It helps, too, having someone like (Sartori) there to have a familiar face."

Swimmers Katie Olsen (Stanford) and Lauren Torres (Vanderbilt) signed their LOI in November but were part of the ceremony.

The football team had two signings with tight end Sean Coffinger heading to Columbia and lineman Jalon Bibbs picking Northern State University in South Dakota.

Bibbs didn't even visit the Aberdeen campus until last weekend, but it was all he needed.

"It's a small town, and I like the cold weather," said Bibbs, who will play on the defensive line in the program's 3-4 defense. "It's going to be a great experience."

The one surprise was the delay of senior wide receiver Mike Ingrassia, who was expected to pick an Ivy League school but didn't sign anywhere as of Wednesday.

"He just wanted to take a step back," Desert Vista football coach Dan Hinds said.

Mountain Pointe had less overall numbers, but a bigger tally in the football world.

The big one was linebacker Izzy Marshall, who is one of the few top football recruits to stay in state this year as he chose Arizona State.

"I can't wait to get in there and compete," he said. "There are some great linebackers there and I can't wait to match up with them. That is only going to make me better."

Other players were Garrett Holle (Fort Hays University after committing to Mesa State College earlier), J.R. Plote (South Dakota State), TJ Holtrop (Baker University in Kansas), Chris Carl (Scottsdale Community College) and Chad Papineau (Pima Community College).

"What a great way to see it all come to a final decision," said Plote, who, along with Marshall, attended the fourth annual signing ceremony for Southeast Valley football players at Marjele's at Chandler Fashion Square Mall. "Last year at this time, we had no idea where we'd be going and some of us didn't even know if we'd be going anywhere.

"I've always wanted to play college football, and this is a dream come true."

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