Fairfield athletes sign college letters
Published 12:40 pm, Monday, December 7, 2015
Usually, when one high school announces the signing of a college-bound student athlete playing at a Division I level, it’s a pretty big deal. But five? That’s exceptional.
Fairfield Ludlowe High School can boast of having five student-athletes that are moving onto college at the Division I level at a recent event to announcing the signing of eight of its students to letters of intent.
Caroline Serniak (soccer) will attend Longwood, Jen O’Neil (gymnastics) will attend Maryland, Danna Funaro (tennis) will attend Army-West Point, John Whiteside (swimming) will attend Virginia and Regan Steed (lacrosse) will attend Columbia. Also, Jake Tymon (lacrosse) will attend Mercyhurst, Riley Larson (lacrosse) will attend LeLoyne and Dan Leto (cross country) will attend Merrimack.
In addition to Ludlowe, Fairfield Prep announced that Andrew Sciarretta signed a letter of intent to play golf at the University of Richmond and two students from Greens Farms Academy have also signed LOI’s, Ali Tritschler (equestrian) will attend the University of Georgia and Ingrid Backe (lacrosse) will attend Colgate.
“It’s crazy. I think it’s the most Division I athletes that we’ve had in a long time,” said Serniak, a goalkeeper who helped the Falcons play in both the FCIAC and Class LL tournaments and finish the season with a 11-7-1 record. “We’re a pretty athletic grade and it’s awesome that there’s so much talent and the fact that a lot of us are taking it to the collegiate level is just awesome. I’m lucky to be a part of it.”
The college recruiting process for Serniak started back in her sophomore year when she started e-mailing coaches and attending off-season tournaments and showcases.
“I knew I wanted to play at a high level and getting the opportunity to play at the Division I level was just unreal,” Serniack said. “I was seen by Longwood, they approached me and then I was able to go to the school and look at it and I fell in love with the campus, the coaches. The girls on the team are awesome, so the whole process was kind of seamless, which was really nice.”
While not competing for the Falcons gymnastics team, O’Neil has been a gymnastics athlete ever since she was a little girl.
“I started (gymnastics) when I was two years old,” she said. “I’ve been going to (gymnastics) camps (at Maryland) since I was a freshman so I’ve known the coaches for four years now. I’ve become really close to them and the girls. I fell in love with the campus and the whole atmosphere was very team oriented, which was great.”
It took some word of mouth from friends to get Tymon’s interest in Mercyhurst going, but once he initially checked out the campus and the program, he knew that was the school for him.
“In my initial visit I went and talked to the coach a little bit. I had heard about the school through word of mouth from one of my friends. Previously, I hadn’t even heard of the school,” Tymon said. “Once I did my initial visit I just really fell in love with the campus. I did a second visit, stayed overnight with a friend that’s playing on the lacrosse team and I just had a blast. I really can’t see myself going any other place to spend the next four years of my life.”
Likewise, Larson, who spoke with former Ludlowe grad Ryan Desmond regarding LeMoyne before making his official visit.
“I had some injuries so I wasn’t really looked at by a lot of schools,” Larson said. “I talked to Ryan and came down for a visit. I loved the school, loved the coaching staff and just felt that it was the right place for me. They’re one of the top teams for Division II, make a lot of national championship appearances, they’ve won a few and I’m excited to go there.”
Whiteside, who specializes in the 200-yard and 100-yard backstrokes and also swims freestyle, cancelled his third official visit after seeing what Maryland had to offer.
“I took my trip down there (after visiting Penn State) and absolutely fell in love with the school,” he said. “The men’s team there was really cool and I felt at home with them. I could see myself spending my next four years there.”
Steed, a three-sport athlete - soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter, lacrosse in the spring - will play lacrosse at Columbia.
“Lacrosse combines a lot of elements of other sports into one. It’s more tactical with passing, like basketball but it has the speed and the athleticism of soccer,” she said. “I liked how it combined all the elements of the sports I love.”
Steed said that she is leaning toward studying science.
“I’m not really sure yet but I’m leaning toward science, pre-med,” she said. “Anything science.”
Funaro will compete for the Falcons tennis team in the spring, her first time playing high school sports.
“I’m extremely excited to represent my school. I’ve never played high school tennis because I’ve had such an extreme training regime where I just didn’t have enough time but I’m excited to have time this spring to participate in a school sport,” she said.
As for attending Army-West Point?
“It all came around pretty suddenly,” Funaro said. “I got an e-mail from the head women’s tennis coach there last fall and it kind of sparked something. I never really knew anything about the military but it sparked my interest and once I knew more and more I realized that was really what I wanted to do with my life.”
Fluent in Russian, Funaro is looking at a career in military intelligence.
Sciarretta, a four-year member of the Jesuits golf team, will continue his career at Richmond next fall. Sciarretta has played from the No.1 position for Prep since his freshman season and is a three-time All-SCC player, two-time All-State selection and is the reigning Connecticut Junior Amateur Champion.
Sciarretta is also deeply involved in community service where he works in the Grassroots Tennis Program in Norwalk, helping children through a “Tools for School” program.