Earlier this week, several local student athletes made their college choices as they signed their National Letters of Intent to commit to attending an NCAA Division I and II college or university.
The signing of the National Letter of Intent is the culmination of the recruiting process of outstanding high school athletes by participating institutions of higher learning.
By signing a Letter of Intent, a prospective student commits to attending the designated college or university. The institution, in turn, agrees to provide financial aid to the student.
Across the country, thousands of exceptional high school football, field hockey, and soccer players as well as track and field athletes, and cross country runners signed with one of the 616 participating NCAA Division I and II colleges and universities. For any high school, having one student recruited to attend a Division I or II school would be a tremendous honor.
To have four students selected is astounding. But that is just what occurred at Point Pleasant Borough High School.
On Wednesday morning in Point Pleasant Borough High School’s Guidance Office, seniors Ryan Malleck, Kelsey Haycook, Katie Frye, and Melissa Criscuolo assembled with their families and coaches to sign their National Letters of Intent.
Citing the school’s coaching staff as the major factor in his decision, football player Ryan Malleck committed to transition from the Panther’s preeminent tight end to a Hokie at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech).
Despite having just surpassed the 1000-point mark in her high school basketball career, Kelsey Haycook signed to play soccer at LaSalle University crediting the coaching staff and the program with her decision.
Indicating positive experiences with Monmouth University’s athletic and academic programming, Point Pleasant High School Cross Country and Track superstar Katie Frye signed her Letter of Intent to run with the Hawks.
Melissa Criscuolo was the day’s final signer committing to attend James Madison University. Recruited for her outstanding swimming abilities, Melissa joins her older sister Andrea, also a swimmer, at JMU.
“It is always an exciting experience when one of our students signs with a college or university,” said Principal Linda Rocco. “But it is exceptional to have four students sign to such prestigious universities.”
But for the coaches the praise was reserved for the students.
“To have a player like Kelsey is a dream,” said Girls Soccer Coach Michael Edelow. “She is a fantastic athlete.”
Echoing the same sentiments was Katie’s coaches, Coaches James Greenwood and Angela Kostenko.
“Katie has natural talent that she balances with hard work,” said Katie’s Track Coach Kostenko. “It is obvious that she is a Division I athlete.”
“Katie’s technique coupled with her ability makes her excel,” said Cross Country Coach
Greenwood. “She also loves the sport and that shows in her performance.”
Swimming Coach Patricia Ryan had similar praise for Melissa Criscuolo.
“Melissa is an excellent swimmer,” said Coach Ryan. “She works very hard and it shows.”
Coach Sean Henry expressed his pride in Ryan’s decision.
“Virginia Tech’s football program consistently ranks in the top 15 in the country,” said Coach Henry. “I am so happy for Ryan and his family on this well deserved accomplishment.”
And when you take into account that both Ryan and Kelsey will be attending top colleges at no cost while Katie and Melissa will attend at a significantly reduced rate, the depth of these accomplishments become even more pronounced.
“Each of these athletes leave a tremendous legacy of athletic success,” said Athletic Director David Kirk. “It has been both an honor and a privilege to watch their performance in their respective sports. I am extremely proud of them all.”
Superintendent of Schools Vincent S. Smith, who witnessed all the signings, also reflected on the remarkable achievements of the student athletes.
“The fact that so many of our students were so actively recruited by top universities and colleges underscores the integral role sports can play in a student’s life,” said Superintendent Smith. “I look forward to following our students’ continued successes for the remainder of high school and beyond.