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[Updated] Conard Students Commit to College Sports

From left: Tatiana St. Juste, Faith Haverty, Gwen Geisler, Maya Feigenbaum, Sam Lefante, and Seby Suarez participated in a ceremony at Conard on May 17, 2017, for students who will continue sports at the collegiate level. Photo credit: Ronni Newton
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[Updated, May 18] The name of Emma Dowd – a record-setter and former team captain who will swim for the University of Rochester – was inadvertently left off the list of future collegiate student-athletes that was provided by the athletic department of West Hartford’s Conard High School.

By Ronni Newton

A ceremony was held Wednesday afternoon at West Hartford’s Conard High School to recognize the seniors who plan to continue participating in sports at the collegiate level.

Six of the 12 students participated in the ceremony, attended by families, friends, coaches, Principal Julio Duarte, and West Hartford Athletic Director Jason Siegal.

Siegal said it’s important to recognize and celebrate the students “who are about to realize their dream” of going on to play collegiate sports.

“To have the academic aptitude and athletic ability to continue on to the next level is, number one – outstanding, and number two – very difficult to accomplish. But here you are about to do it, and I could not be more happy for and proud of you,” Siegal said.

According to the latest statistics, only 6 percent of high school athletes continue on to play at the collegiate level, and Siegal urged the students to thank their parents as well as their coaches for helping them get there.

He also gave them a bit of advice: “Call home. Call, don’t text. They want to hear the sound of your voice.”

Students attending the ceremony Wednesday included:

  • Sebastian Suarez, who will play lacrosse at Roger Williams in Bristol, RI.
  • Sam Lefante, who will play lacrosse at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT.
  • Faith Haverty, who will play lacrosse at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT.
  • Gwen Geisler, who will play lacrosse at Colby College in Waterville, ME.
  • Maya Feigenbaum, who will play lacrosse but is still deciding between Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT, and UConn in Storrs, CT.
  • Tatiana St. Juste, who will swim at Lynn University in Boca Raton, FL.

Conard boys lacrosse coach Matt Cersosimo said that Suarez and Lefante are both “extraordinary gentlemen,” and urged them not to worry as they approach the next level. “The lacrosse part will take care of itself,” he said.

Cersosimo took over as head coach just this year, and he said the students reaped the benefits of coach Bill Condon’s hard work.

Condon, who retired at the end of the 2016 season after 25 years, said, “It’s classroom, it’s character,” that makes these students stand out.

Meg Cersosimo, head girls lacrosse coach, spoke about her three team members who will be continuing their athletic careers, citing some outstanding statistics that the three helped account for.

Feigenbaum, who initially signed a letter of intent to play lacrosse at Division I Stony Brook University, has reconsidered her plans and is now deciding between Quinnipiac and UConn. She is a complete “game changer,” Meg Cersosimo said of Feigenbaum’s competitive spirit on the field.

Haverty, Meg Cersosimo said, is the “backbone of our team.” She said Wesleyan will blessed to be getting her as a student and athlete.

Geisler was a three-sport varsity athlete all four years at Conard, and is an “on field fierce competitor,” who in 2016 earned high school lacrosse’s highest honor when she was named All American. She’s a “dream to coach,” Meg Cersosimo said.

“These three will be sorely missed,” said Meg Cersosimo.

Swim coach John Smachetti was not able to attend the ceremony, but provided a written statement read by Siegal. St. Juste, he said, “is a ‘big moment competitor.’ The bigger the race, the more she gives of herself.”

Conard Principal Julio Duarte said that one of the things he loves about sports is that the students completely own their performance. “At the end of the day there’s no helping you, it’s you along and it’s up to you, it’s not about luck.”

What people don’t always realize is how much hard work goes on behind the scenes to get to a certain level in athletics, Duarte said.

“Keep working hard and good things will happen,” he told the students.

Unable to attend Wednesday’s ceremony were Patrick Baron (baseball, Endicott College, Beverly, MA); Brendan D’Arcy (soccer, Eastern Connecticut State University, Willimantic, CT); Emma Dowd (swimming, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY); Sarah Gockel (hockey, University of New England, Biddeford, ME); Michael Mathews (baseball, Salve Regina University, Newport, RI); and Declan O’Brien (soccer, Mount Ida College, Newton, MA).

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