With just over a third of the way through the athletic school year completed, the Ithaca High School Little Red have already had many accomplishments to celebrate. While most of the celebrations come while on the field, the most recent has been without fields, competition, or score. The Little Red have celebrated the decision of six student-athletes who will continue their athletic careers while seeking higher education at the NCAA level of competition. In a small, intimate setting on Tuesday, Nov. 27, family and friends gathered at the high school and waited for the recognition of the six student-athletes that would take part in a longstanding tradition of signing a National Letter of Intent. The National Letter of Intent is a formal commitment to an NCAA institution, securing the intent of a student-athlete to attend an institution the following school year.
Six National Letters of Intent and accompanying pens laid across the table at the front of the room, and behind the table sat six Little Red athletes with wide smiles. On the other side of the table sat administrators, teachers, coaches, family, and teammates, taking in the moment that celebrates one of the biggest decisions a student-athlete will ever make.
Before taking pen to paper, the six student-athletes, Derrick Tomberelli, Seneca Blakely-Armitage, Reed Baker, Maria Vieira, Julianna Saggese, and Kiely Howe each took the time to thank the people that influenced their lives and their athletic careers.
For Tomberelli, he signed his commitment to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida to become a dual sport athlete in baseball and hockey. He joins the Eagles, who participate in the Sunshine State Conference at the Division II level and look to avenge a 20-30 season.
Blakely-Armitage will join the Herons of Hobart and William Smith Colleges for soccer, as she looks to pick up where her standout senior season left off. The Herons are members of the Liberty League and participate at the Division III level. Blakely-Armitage joins a squad that went 17-3-1 this season.
Baker signed her commitment to stay within New York, as she looks to join the lacrosse program at Nazareth College, a member of Division III. She wants to help lift the Golden Flyers to another Empire 8 Championship after the team bowed out in the opening round this season.
For Vieira and Saggese, the pair will remain lacrosse teammates as they both committed to joining the lacrosse program at Division I University at Albany. The Great Danes, members of the America East Conference, won eight consecutive games last season to earn a spot in the conference tournament before being eliminated by top-ranked Stony Brook.
Howe will travel to the University of Louisville, a Division I member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, to join the Lacrosse program. She aims to help get the Cardinals back on track after a subpar season left them 6-11-0 and saw the team eliminated in the opening round of the conference tournament.
“It’s important that we celebrate accomplishments and the decisions of these student-athletes to pursue athletics while getting further education,” said Samantha Little, the Athletic Director at Ithaca High School. “Regardless of recruitment or scholarships, this is a major decision and it should be celebrated.”
Little is hoping that the achievements of these student-athletes and their recognition will help inspire others to follow in their footsteps. “It allows for other students to aspire to achieve,” she said. “It speaks volumes of the commitment by the students and their families who have worked for years to get to this point.”
The commitments to these institutions allow for the Ithaca High School influence to reach beyond the borders of Tompkins County and even beyond New York. The Little Red will certainly miss the contributions of these student-athletes but will endeavor to produce the next wave of college commits.
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