SOUTHINGTON - Nearly eight million students currently participate in high school athletics in the United States and more than 480,000 compete as NCAA athletes.
On Tuesday, Southington High School recognized 14 student athletes who will be continuing their athletic careers at the Division III level.
“This is a way for us to kind of celebrate our Division III students and some of our students who are going on to prep school,” Athletic Director Greg Ferry addressed to a crowd full of friends, family and faculty. “I wanted to get them in one great group and celebrate their accomplishments. I think at times we put a lot of notoriety into our Division I and Division II athletes.”
Out of the 14 students moving forward, two have chosen to play for a prep school before entering a four-year college program. Those two were Jake Monson and Ryan Montalvo, members of the Blue Knights football team.
“I’m a firm believer in playing a collegiate sport if you can,” Southington football coach Mike Drury said. “Not everyone can. Not everyone can take the commitment in what it takes to be successful at that level. It’s not going to be easy, especially to a young person coming into the program. You have to learn the ropes.”
Monson was a captain and a two-year starter for the Blue Knights. His senior year was tougher than his last three seasons due to a broken ankle suffered in the second game of the season. Despite the injury, Monson worked every day to get better in order to play in the Thanksgiving Day game against Cheshire.
“He wanted to get back early,” Drury said. “He rehabbed, he prepared himself and worked himself back. He was at every single practice. The first day after surgery he did a couple hundred pushups, couple hundred sit ups, just getting himself ready.”
Monson, though, always had a dream of going to the Coast Guard Academy and in the fall, he will be attending a military prep school, which is later to be announced, for one year before entering the academy.
Montalvo has been Drury’s only four year-starter since he took over the football program in 2011. The running back broke his forearm in the beginning of the season, but that wasn’t going to stop him from playing his last year at Southington.
Montalvo didn’t miss a single game or practice; he just played with a cast. In the fall, Montalvo will be attending Trinity-Pawling, a prep school in Pawling, New York.
The third member of the football team to be recognized was wide receiver Jimmy Ringrose.
In the fall, he will be continuing his education and athletic career at Hudson Valley Community College in Poughkeepsie, New York, before transitioning into a four-year school.
The Southington swimming and diving program also represented three athletes who will be continuing their athletic and academic careers - Olivia Fournier, Brendon Egan and Quint Kimmel.
“It’s not really a signature on the page today,” Southington swimming and diving coach Evan Tuttle said. “It’s more of a symbol of all of your hard work and dedication, devotion to a cause coming to fruition and achieving one of your goals.”
Fournier is one of the most decorated athletes at Southington High School. The sprinter owns half of the school records for the girls swimming and diving team, including the 200 freestyle, 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, medley relay, 200 freestyle relay and the 400 freestyle relay.
In the fall, Fournier will be attending Trinity College in Hartford.
Egan capped off his senior year by qualifying for the Class LL state finals meet as well as the State Open. Egan has been recognized as All-CCC his entire high school career and will be attending Springfield College in the fall.
There he will be continuing his athletic career as well as majoring in Physician Assistant Studies.
Kimmel advanced to the LL finals meet in the 200 and 500 freestyles, as well as the 200 and 400 freestyle relays. As a member of the 200 freestyle relay, it advance and competed at the State Open.
Kimmel will be attending Keene State College in Keene, N.H. in the fall where he will continue his athletic career and major in broadcast journalism.
For the first time in Southington girls tennis coach Robin Thompson’s tenure, she is sending not one but two athletes to college.
Samantha Barmore will be playing at Endicott College in Beverly, Mass. Carolyn Callahan will be attending the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford.
Ariana Gazaferi and Nicole Carter are the two representatives from Southington’s girls soccer team.
“These two student athletes started at the high school the same time I did,” Southington girls soccer coach Mike Linehan said. “Four years ago I started to take over the high school program, so these two are very special to me.”
Gazaferi will be attending the University of St. Joseph where she will not only be continuing her athletic career, but be enrolled in the honors program and will be majoring in biochemistry as well.
Carter will be attending Mount Saint Mary’s College in Newburgh, New York. There she will major in physical therapy.
Baseball, softball, boys soccer and girls basketball each had one representative.
For baseball, it was two-sport athlete Brandon Kohl. With football in the fall and baseball in the spring, Kohl is a busy kid. But playing two sports has taken a toll on his body. During his sophomore year, he tore his ACL, which later resulted in three separate knee surgeries. He reinjured knee again this fall.
“If we had a courage award at the high school I truly believe Brandon would have won that,” baseball coach Charlie Lembo said. “Each year as spring came along and most guys are trying to get their arms loose, Brandon was going through rehab from knee surgery.”
Kohl will continue to play baseball at Western New England University in Springfield, Mass.
“I fell in love with the campus as soon as I went up there,” Kohl said “I have a couple friends up there and they have said nothing but good things about the school. Educationally wise, there engineering program is second to none.”
Kohl will be majoring in biomedical engineering.
For softball, Frankie Ferrante will be attending the University of St. Joseph. Ferrante was a two-time all-conference and 2018 All-State player.
“She is a huge part of the success we’ve had as a program and also the success I’ve had as head coach,” softball coach Davina Hernandez said. “She will be a great addition to the softball team as she continues to grow and excel in her career.”
For boys soccer, Hayden Burbank will be attending University of St. Joseph as well. Burbank was a three-year letter winner, two-time all-conference, from the center back position.
Last but not least, representing girls basketball was Janette Wadolowski. She ended her senior season as the second-leading scorer in Southington history, and while Wadolowski has received offers from school all over the country, she will be continuing her education and athletic career at the University of Tufts in Medford, Mass.
“Janette is the total team player,” girls basketball coach Mike Forgione said. “She made an immediate impact. She’s one of those players that kind of elevates you to the next level and we were just so fortunate to have that type of player for the last four years. She’s going to make an immediate impact at Tufts University. The best is yet to come.”
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org