Students from West Hartford’s Conard High School participated in a ceremony on Nov. 8, 2023, which is the first day of the early signing period for most Division I and II college sports.
By Ronni Newton
Four students from Conard’s Class of 2024 who plan to continue their sports at the collegiate level gathered in the gym Wednesday afternoon to participate in a ceremony recognizing their commitment, with family, friends, and coaches in attendance.
The student-athletes who will be competing at the Division I level also signed national letters of intent on what is the first day of the early signing period for the Class of 2024 for most sports at the D1 and D2 level. The early signing period for Division I football begins Dec. 20. Both West Hartford high schools also hold ceremonies in the spring, as well as signing ceremonies if D1 or D2 commitments are made during other periods of the year.
Jason Siegal, athletic director for West Hartford Public Schools, said he’s excited about the opportunity to highlight “the top of the top, the best of the best” student-athletes in the school.
“As we all know they’re great athletes, but these are just awesome kids who are going to make a huge impact on their campus when they arrive, and for me that’s what I’m most appreciative of,” Siegal said.
Coaches for each of the athletes took turns speaking about the students who have participated in and captained their teams, praising their hard work, commitment, ability, and leadership skills. Similar to statements made earlier in the day at a ceremony at Hall High School, many of the the coaches also said that while they excel in their sports, each student “is a better person than they are an athlete” – noting characteristics like integrity, perseverance, focus, dedication, and being an outstanding teammate and mentor to others.
Conard Principal Jamahl Hines also spoke to the students, telling them how proud he is. “What we know about sports, one of the greatest things that we know about sports, is it is a great revealer of character. No matter what you do and how hard you work, your character comes through when sports are in the mix,” Hines said, noting that character is “how you act when no one’s watching,” and these students are the product of high character that has been shown over and over again.
Sports, he said, “teases out the true leaders,” and he is so proud that these students are Conard products.
This year’s senior class faced the added challenge of beginning their freshman year in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The students recognized Wednesday (pictured above, from left) included:
- Lily Nguyen, volleyball, Emerson College
- Taylor Yepes, soccer, Central Connecticut State University
- Riley Fox, basketball, Yale University
- Will Gregware, golf, University of Maryland
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