BERLIN - As the group of four sat next to each other in the Berlin High School library, it didn‚Äôt take long for the smiles to appear. After all, there was plenty of be excited about.
The school‚Äôs signing day has become an annual tradition at Berlin and Wednesday morning was no different. Seated one at a time at a table bearing the Redcoats logo, each of the student-athletes wore a piece of apparel from the college or university they are set to attend when fall comes around.
Looking up and down the row of seats, it was as notable a group as any in the area, all heading off to Division I or II schools for either soccer or track. Consisting of soccer players Noah Silverman and Julia Sisti as well as Nikki Xiarhos and Lexi Kavarsky of the girls track team, the students were celebrated, congratulated and posed for pictures in front of parents, coaches and school administrators.
Amid the camera flashes and cheers, it was a time of reflection for many of the athletes, as they considered where they had come from to the point they are at now. Some will be sticking close to home, while others will be venturing out of state.
Silverman will be trading in his Berlin red for the blue of CCSU in the fall.
The senior leaves the boys soccer program as one of its most decorated players. A three-time all-conference, three-time All-State and two-time All-New England selection, Silverman also holds the school records for most goals (40) and assists (43) in a career, most goals in game (5) and most assists in a season.
He added another distinction to that list when he became the first player during head coach Sal Parafati‚Äôs 18 seasons with the Redcoats to move on to Division I soccer.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve known their coaches, they‚Äôre coaches from my premier team too, so I love their coaches,‚ÄĚ Silverman said. ‚ÄúThey also play the right style that I like to play: a lot of passing and not a lot of long balls, so I felt it was the right fit for me. I think I‚Äôll be more of an assist guy for them since I usually play a center-mid role on my premier team. I high school, I play forward, so that‚Äôs a little different, but I think I can play both and be that little hybrid there for them.‚ÄĚ
Sisti also leaves Berlin as an accomplished soccer player, who turned in quite a senior season. The All-State forward netted 18 goals and nine assists during her final season in a Redcoats uniform and helped lead the girls soccer team to its first title game appearance since 1998. Along the way, Sisti scored game-winning goals in the Class M quarterfinals and semifinals.
Sisti had her choice of colleges to pick from, but decided on Stonehill College, a D-II school in North Easton, Mass., because it provided the right mixture of athletics and academics. And in the end, it became an easy choice.
‚ÄúI knew it was the perfect school for me when I visited,‚ÄĚ Sisti said. ‚ÄúThe atmosphere, I loved. I think I‚Äôm a really good academic fit there and that, combined with the soccer program, I feel like it‚Äôs a good fit for me. Stonehill has been very competitive the last few years in their conference and I‚Äôve seen they scrimmage and practice many times and I like the style of play, which is really quick, is something I want to be a part of.‚ÄĚ
Xiarhos has been a standout on the girls track team during her time at Berlin and finished last season as a New England qualifier in the sprinting events. She is helping to continue the program‚Äôs legacy of sending athletes to Division I schools.
In the fall, Xiarhos will be off to Bryant University, where she will concentrate on the same events she did with the Redcoats. The senior liked everything about the school during her visit, but it was an overnight stay that helped sell her on the school in the end.
‚ÄúI really like the girls [on the team],‚ÄĚ Xiarhos said. ‚ÄúI went to other overnights and the girls were good there, but I liked the team at Bryant and the coach there. I liked how their track team worked and ended up choosing it. I feel like I always knew I wanted to go to Bryant. Plus they have a good business school and I like math classes, so I‚Äôll be majoring in actuary mathematical science. I think I‚Äôll fit in well.‚ÄĚ
Kavarsky will also be staying in state for her collegiate career. She ended up choosing Sacred Heart University, where she will run in the hurdle events that helped make her a standout at Berlin.
Although she also plays soccer, what‚Äôs make track particularly appealing to the senior is the accountability factor, where everything in the sport is more individualized. Either you‚Äôre going to succeed or you‚Äôre not and Kavarsky certainly succeeded.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve been to other schools and looked around and then when I went to Sacred Heart I was like, ‚ÄėThis is feels right for me. This is definitely it,‚Äô‚ÄĚ Kavarsky said. ‚ÄúI really like the coaches, so nice and really approachable. But being able to compete at the highest level made everything worth it, all the times I stressed about it and all the time I put into it. I love the sport and I just want to continue it.‚ÄĚ
For this year‚Äôs group of Berlin seniors, the reasons for choosing the schools they will attend next fall varied per person, but it all came down to what made them the most comfortable to begin the next phases of their careers.
Once they arrive on campus, the group will look to continue to match their athletic success that helped earn them a spot on the field or track at the college level.
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org