PLAINVILLE - As the group of six sat three to a table up on the auditorium stage, it didn‚Äôt take long for the smiles to appear. After all, there was plenty of be excited about.
On Tuesday morning, Plainville High School celebrated and honored Hannah Lennon, Jailen Lindsey, Dylan Morrell, Nathan Michalek, Amiyah Peters and EJ Wynkoop, who are set to continue their athletic careers at the Division I, II or III levels.
‚ÄúParticipating in athletics in high school is surely a challenge,‚ÄĚ Plainville Athletic Director Chris Farrell said as he addressed a crowd full of friends, family, faculty and coaches. ‚ÄúThese six student-athletes will take on an even tougher challenge while not only continuing their education but participating in collegiate athletics.‚ÄĚ
In the fall, Lennon will be attending Stonehill College in Easton, Mass. There, she will look to compete at the Division-II equestrian team.
‚ÄúStonehill really just has it all,‚ÄĚ Lennon said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs not only a great learning environment but it‚Äôs 20 minutes from Boston which is awesome. So that‚Äôs internship opportunities and they have a really great study abroad program because I‚Äôve always wanted to go to London and then they have a really good equestrian team. They‚Äôve gone to nationals multiple years.‚ÄĚ
Lennon has been riding her whole life and has been on the Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) team at her local barn for the last two years. She was a junior varsity beginner flat her junior year and she was also junior varsity navis over fences and flat her senior year.
Today, Lennon will be walking across the stage where she will graduate in the top 10 percent of her class. While at Stonehill, she will be studying communications and political science.
Lindsey will be attending Plymouth State University, a Division-III school in Plymouth, N.H., where he will be playing football and studying business.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a really good school,‚ÄĚ Lindsey said. ‚ÄúThe atmosphere is great and the kids that are there are really friendly. They have a really solid business program and they‚Äôll have a lot of opportunities for me.‚ÄĚ
Lindsey has been a varsity football player for the Blue Devils the past two seasons and excelled as a receiver. And with plenty of potential, Plainville head football coach Tim Shea believes Lindsey still has plenty of room to grow.
‚ÄúJailen is a great kid and he‚Äôs got a big upside,‚ÄĚ Shea said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm very happy as Plymouth State is to get him. We got him in the right program so he could flourish and we found the academic fit first and then athletics. He‚Äôll fit in well there.‚ÄĚ
Morrell will be following in the footsteps of his uncle and father and play baseball at at Eastern Connecticut State University, a Division-III program in Willimantic.
‚ÄúMy uncle was the first one to go to Eastern a long, long time ago,‚ÄĚ Morrell said. ‚ÄúHe played all four years. My dad also went there and played a couple falls there. When I first went for my interview to look around the campus, the one thing the coach said was, ‚ÄėI know your family has been here, and I just want you know we‚Äôre not taking you for your name, we‚Äôre taking you for your ability and work ethic.‚Äô‚ÄĚ
Morrell was a four-year varsity player for the Blue Devils and served as a captain his senior season.
While at Eastern, Morrell will be majoring in criminal justice with hopes of becoming a police officer.
Plainville valedictorian Michalek will also be continuing his baseball career, choosing to play at Division-II Bentley University in Waltham, Mass. Michalek chose Bentley because of its small size, location, academics and the internship opportunities. In the fall he will be studying actuarial science.
During his time with the Blue Devils, Michalek served as a pitcher and first baseman. He will most likely continue to pitch at Bentley.
This year he was named the CIAC Scholar Athlete of the Year and was also named all-conference.
Peters will continue her basketball career at Cedar Crest College, a Division-III school in Allentown, Penn. While there, Peters will be studying health science to become a physical therapist.
‚ÄúI picked Cedar Crest because the campus is beautiful,‚ÄĚ said Peters, who played guard positions for the high school. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs right downtown so everything I need is right there. The people and the teachers are so friendly. They already want to help me.‚ÄĚ
The final athlete to be recognized during Tuesday‚Äôs ceremony was Wynkoop.
Being a natural-born runner, he will be continuing his athletic career with Central Connecticut State University‚Äôs track and field team as a preferred walk-on.
It was just a few days after Wynkoop learned how to walk, he started to run. He‚Äôs been doing it ever since.
‚ÄúI just connect with track,‚ÄĚ Wynkoop said. ‚ÄúI like to be in my zone when running. With track it‚Äôs just a straight line, I like to run, I really like to run. I can connect and it‚Äôs my happy place.‚ÄĚ
Also a member of the football team, Wynkoop been a standout in his running and jumping events in track and field, excelling in the 100-meter dash, high jump and as a member of the 4x100 relay team.
Wynkoop was attracted to CCSU because of the location, size of campus, learning environment and most importantly the sports. The achievements that the track and field program have won was really stood out to him.
While at CCSU, Wynkoop will be studying exercise science.
For this year‚Äôs group of Plainville 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, court or track at the college level.
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org