by Andrew Garda
As the school year winds down, seniors across the three local schools — Montclair High School, Montclair Kimberley Academy and Immaculate Conception High School — are wrapping up their high school careers while also preparing for the next stage in their lives, whether that is college, a trade school, the military or right into the job market.
For some senior athletes, though, it’s already time for them to begin looking towards reporting to school to get ready to compete at the collegiate level.
We reached out to athletic directors, coaches and the students themselves to get as complete a list as possible, but as not everyone responded by press time and we could have missed a few.
If that’s the case, email us at email@example.com so we can make sure everyone gets their due in the next issue.
Montclair High School
The athletes of the Montclair High School class of 2019 have a lot to celebrate, whether they are going on to compete in their respective sport in college or not. They’ve won sectional and county and state titles, they’ve broken records, they’ve enjoyed the highs of massive wins and the lows of close losses.
One thing they all have in common is how much MHS has helped them grow both on and off the field.
Stefan Urquidi, who is one of the at least three dozen MHS student-athletes heading to college to play sports either at the NCAA Division I, II or III levels, said he found himself pushed to excel in all areas.
“What I loved most about my experience was the coaching staff and teachers,” said Urquidi, who will study either industrial or product design at Thomas Jefferson University, an Division II school in Philadelphia. “Coach [Sophia] Kenny and Coach [Daryl] Washington both pushed me greatly in my sport, while Ms. [Pamela] Shakespeare and other teachers helped push my creativity and artistic ability.”
Urquidi, like many of his fellow athletes, said sports helped him improve his studies.
“Cross country and track have both helped me to become a better student in a variety of ways,” he said. “My commitment to the team forced me to improve my time management in order to succeed in class, making me a better student. But my coaches and peers at track also helped, as my coaches would check my grades and make sure I was doing all right, while teammates would help me with concepts that I struggled with.”
Urquidi always felt he had what it took to compete at the collegiate level, settling on his Division II offer as he felt it was a better choice academically.
While he’s excited for the future, Urquidi expressed that he would definitely miss his MHS experience.
“I think the track team is what I will miss the most,” he said. “After years of spending hours a day at practice and meets together, I feel like I’ve really bonded with my teammates. It’s hard for me to imagine going to practice and not seeing them.”
While the transition might be jarring, Urquidi and the rest of the athletes on this list — as well as all the graduates from Montclair High School — certainly have bright futures ahead of them.
In addition to Urquidi, other Mounties who plan to compete in collegiate athletics next year include, in alphabetical order:
Alexander Abuhoff (crew), Northeastern University; Robert ‘Bo’ Bigelow (football), University of Virginia; Roisin Cahill (crew), Clemson University; Evan Chaladoff (baseball), Columbia University; Joshua Crawford (football), Central Michigan University;
Phillip Cubeddu (soccer), Wesleyan University; Mason Davisson (soccer), Wesleyan University; Nicolas Falco (track and field), Sacred Heart University; Matilda Ferguson (track and field), Swarthmore College; Eleanor Keating (track and field), Haverford College;
Kathleen King (crew), Bates College; Coco Klisivitch (Womens’ Ice Hockey), University of Massachusetts Amherst; Leo Kupferman (tennis), Bates College; Willie Matthews (football), Kansas University; Chris Masur (soccer), Bucknell University; Conor McGrath (baseball), University of Massachusetts-Boston;
Izaiah McPherson (basketball), Wells College; Ben Middlemiss (soccer), Alfred University; Kyle Miller (baseball), Gettysburg College; Charles Murphy Jr. (football), Towson University; Jillian O’Toole (soccer), College of William & Mary;
Sophia Pisano (field hockey), Bryn Mawr College; Leah Plawker (field hockey), Franklin & Marshall College; Gary Robinson Jr (football), Southern Connecticut State University; Will Schiffenhaus (lacrosse), U.S. Naval Academy; Drew Skibniewski (lacrosse), Wesleyan University;
Shawn Summers (basketball), Rider University; Francesca Testa (softball), Franklin & Marshall College; Kimberley Troeller (crew), University of Pennsylvania; LiLi Vroegh (cheer), Rowan University; Laila Webb (lacrosse), Albertus Magnus College;
Theodore Weil (crew), Temple University; Terrell White (wrestling), East Stroudsburg University; Nyjah Young-Bey (track and field), Franklin Pierce University; Kevin Zaccareo (baseball), Centenary University; and Julian Zincani (crew), Cornell University.
Also, Mountie baseball player Ford Virgin will attend and play at Avon Old Farms prep school in Connecticut.
Montclair Kimberley Academy
When looking at the list of schools MKA scholar-athletes will attend in the fall, one thing is clear – the Cougars continue to emphasize the student in student-athlete.
“Soccer helped me grow as a student immensely,” said Dylan Ladda, who will be studying finance and playing soccer at Division I College of Charleston next fall. “Soccer allowed me to learn how to deal with adversity, communicate and work with others, stay calm under pressure and improve many other very important qualities that translate into academics.”
Ladda said MKA encourages its students to do things outside of their school day, like sports, in the hopes it will round out their education experience. He feels this is a worthwhile idea.
“I believe extracurriculars are very important for individual growth. Not only do they help you in academics, but help in many other facets of life,” he said.
While soccer at the collegiate level awaits Ladda, leaving his MKA teammates behind won’t be easy.
“High school sports in general produce some of the best memories one can have in high school and that was the case for me,” he said. “After a very intense and long club season, being able to step on the field with some of my closest friends and compete against my other friends was so much fun for me. Each team in my four years had a different personality, which kept things fresh and fun. I will definitely miss it.”
It’s not just MKA and his teammates that Ladda will miss. As a lifelong resident of Montclair, he’s expecting there to be an adjustment to leaving the town as well.
“I will definitely miss my family and the comfort of my house,” he said. “In addition to that, I’ve become so accustomed to a set routine that I love to do. Altering my routine to fit my new lifestyle in college will be different. Leaving all of that will definitely be a big change.”
That’s one thing Ladda will have in common with virtually all the students graduating from the three Montclair High Schools. He’s willing to muddle through, however.
“It also doesn’t hurt to be moving to Charleston.”
In addition to Ladda, other Cougars who plan to compete in collegiate athletics next year include, in alphabetical order:
Anna Schaller (cross country), Northeastern University; Emily Fusco (track and field), Gettysburg College; Julia Thompson (fencing), University of Pennsylvania; Patrick Flint (swimming), Towson University;
Zach Kirsch (lacrosse), Salve Regina University; Alexander Stetkevych (lacrosse), Oberlin College; Joseph (Trey) Wilson (football), Fordham University; and Kirsten Zeug (lacrosse), High Point University.
Isas Waxter has achieved a lot on the field during his four years at Immaculate Conception. Waxter set a meet record in the 110 meter hurdles at Group Championships, improved his triple jump every year and played football well enough on both offense and defense to gain a scholarship at Villanova University, which plays in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision.
However, it’s the off-field things he’ll miss the most when he heads off to college.
“The thing I’ll miss most about Immaculate Conception is the family-like atmosphere where everyone wants you to win and succeed,” Waxter said. “All the teachers staff and coaches genuinely care about you and your success.”
That meant encouraging him to believe in himself.
“What I gained from Immaculate was just showing kids you can make it to Division I athletics program regardless of where you play [in high school]. If you play well, they will find you.”
Waxter said it was the same way in the classroom.
“Off the field Immaculate has shown me patience and perseverance,” Waxter said. “If you work at it long enough, you will eventually see a goal be conquered.”
More than anything else, Waxter said ICHS taught him one thing above all else.
“[Immaculate] showed me that you control your own destiny,” he said. “And that you can pursue it in your own fashion.”
Waxter will take that attitude to Pennsylvania and Villanova, where he will be studying business, hopefully with an emphasis in marketing or digital marketing.