Three students at West Hartford’s Hall High School signed national letters of intent Wednesday afternoon.
By Ronni Newton
Three students from Hall High School gathered with their families and coaches Wednesday afternoon on the first day of the NCAA’s early signing period to sign national letters of intent to participate in sports at the Division I collegiate level.
Hall soccer captain Lucas Almeida, who will play for the University of Connecticut, had to sign his letter a bit earlier in the afternoon than the other students because he had to rush out to the soccer field to prepare for a second-round CIAC Class LL tournament game. He had two goals in the 4-1 win over Simsbury.
Almeida, who recently broke the record for career goals scored at Hall and now has 98 goals to date. He is a four-year varsity player, and has earned All-Conference, All-State, All-New England, and most recently earned All-American honors.
UConn was his first choice, Almeida said, and being from Connecticut makes it even more special. The team’s legacy and their beautiful new stadium really stood out, and even though he was initially recruited by Ray Reid, who has since retired, Almeida said he really likes the new coach, Chris Gbandi.
Almeida has been watching UConn soccer since he was a young chid. “The atmosphere is great, the attendance is great. They get pretty good crowds,” he said, and those were all factors in his decision. He said he plans to study something related to sports, perhaps journalism.
Outside of Hall, Almeida has played on the FSA club team. “I think FSA is a great level,” he said, which also allows him to play for his high school team – unlike the academy teams that require a year-round commitment. It was important to him to play for his high school team, with his friends not only on the pitch but in the stands, to be part of the community.
Swimmers Meghan Tiernan and Jacqui Fox, both captains of Hall’s swimming and diving team, also signed national letters of intent on Wednesday.
Tiernan will swim for D1 Villanova University. She is the youngest of four children, and her two older sisters were also D1 swimmers (College of William and Mary and Bryant University) and her brother plays football at Ithaca College.
Fox will swim for the D1 Bryant Bulldogs.
“It’s such an awesome accomplishment,” West Hartford Athletic Director Jason Siegal told all of the student-athletes. “Any time we have our student athletes going off to play college sports it’s awesome, wonderful, and terrific, but to do it on a scholarship is just a testament to the hard work you guys put in over the last 17, 18 years, the hard work your parents and coaches put in – because they’re a large part of it.”
“I’m very confident that you’re going to continue to grow as an individual and as a player,” Hall head soccer coach Zeke Seguro said at the sining. “I’m really excited to see what you can do there. I don’t think that you’ve reached your potential yet … the sky’s the limit for you.”
Hall head swim coach John McClure said he recalled when he first met Tiernan and Fox when they were still students at King Philip Middle School, and how they have grown since then. “They both have done well in school, they’re leaders now … they’ve done well in the water.”
Both have had similar high school swimming careers, McClure said, both are listed in Hall’s “swimming hall of fame” with top-10 times, both have two school records, they’re in the medley relay together. “Jacqui’s got the back stroke, Meghan’s got the breast stroke, they actually took out two very good swimmers,” he said, breaking their records.
While swimming at the D1 level can be “a real grind,” McClure said, “the friends I made are are still my friends to this day, so it was worth it.” He congratulated both Tiernan and Fox, and wished them best of luck as they extend their swimming careers to the collegiate level.
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