Bright Future Ahead for Leominster High Athletes
LEOMINSTER -- The purpose of a high school education is to prepare a young man or young woman for college and life in general. And, sometimes, one purpose of high school athletics is -- while also providing life lessons alongside the classroom proper -- to help pay for college.
Five Leominster seniors have parlayed their athletic performances into the path for higher education, as they signed their National Letters of Intent in the Leominster High School Media Center Wednesday afternoon.
Seniors Patrick Gallagher (baseball, University of Connecticut), Emma Dery (soccer, University of Rhode Island), Alexis Hahn (lacrosse, Georgian Court of New Jersey), Danny Garcia (baseball, Assumption College), and Ryan McCarthy (baseball, Fitchburg State University) all officially made their future plans known.
For Hahn, the schools she had visited in Florida for microbiology did not feel right. Georgian Court, a Division 2 school in Lakewood, New Jersey, did.
“They reached out to me in the summer,” she said, “and I did my overnight. It just felt like a family right when I walked on campus. It felt like home. There was something about it; all the girls, they made it so much fun while I was there. I felt like I belonged there. I remember going to practice with them, and I already felt like I was part of the team, hanging around with them for the two days that I was there.”
Hahn, who has a class rank of about 20 in the Class of 2019, will study biology at Georgian Court, while playing lacrosse.
While Hahn played four years of varsity in both girls’ lacrosse and field hockey, Georgian Court does not offer field hockey. However, it wasn’t imperative as she has concentrated mainly on lacrosse.
She said that she plans on bringing “that hard-work mentality” to the Garden State.
Of this quintet -- and there are more letters of intent to come from Granite Street, as football signings are traditionally done in February -- McCarthy elected to stay close to home.
It also didn’t hurt that he was already familiar with the Falcons coach in Kevin Barnaby, the brother of LHS skipper Rich Barnaby.
“For me, it was academics first,” McCarthy said. “I want to study criminal justice, and they have one of the best programs in the state. For me, as soon as I walked on campus, I knew that’s where I wanted to go.
“Coach Kevin, he’s great. I played for him over the summer with Nor’easters, and he teaches you the stuff that baseball necessarily won’t. He’s all about the life lessons, and that made a difference in my high school career.”
McCarthy considers the Falcons’ Barnaby “one of the best guys in the world.”
Wearing a crushed blue velvet sport jacket for both his soon-to-be alma mater and his future school, Garcia noted he had looked at several Division 3 schools, including Wheaton College, before deciding on playing for the Greyhounds.
Assumption fit for him in all respects.
“It fit academically, it fit athletically,” Garcia said. “Coach seemed really nice. I wanted a coach who would help me as a person and as a player. It felt like I had all of that, so it made it easy.”
Garcia, a speedy outfielder with a bonafide glove, said he plans on studying human services while in Worcester.
And like McCarthy, he believes he will take the familial nature of Blue Devil baseball south along Interstate 190.
Dery played two years of girls’ soccer at LHS before she concentrated on playing her club soccer with FC Stars.
“That opportunity was an offer I couldn’t refuse,” Dery said. “We went to nationals together; they were my other family, and it conflicted so I decided to train with them. I played with them since fifth grade.”
Dery said she loved the environment that URI provided her.
“I met the older teammates, and some players from Stars went there. They loved it. I loved the coach, and I’m excited for my college experience,” Dery said.
She looked into Northeastern, Columbia, and the University of New Hampshire, and wants to study either forensic science or criminology.
For Gallagher, he made the worst-kept secret in North Central Mass. official as he signed to play Division 1 baseball in Storrs.
The right-hander, who helped lead LHS to the Central Mass. Division 1 final this past June, noted that UConn’s coach had stayed through a summer rainstorm this year while watching Gallagher pitch for the Orange Crush of Post 151.
The other scouts had packed it in and left.
“The coaching staff, the way they approached me,” Gallagher said, “they said I could contribute right away. The way they play baseball is very gritty, which reminded me of Leominster High School. There’s a lot of pride with UConn in the community.
“As soon as I got on campus, I knew this was where I wanted to go.”
Gallagher had taken a tour of the Huskies campus, but hadn’t made his “official visit” until after he verbally committed.
Columbia, Northeastern, URI, Manhattan, and a few other Ivy League schools were in the running for his services.
“It was meant to be from the very beginning,” he said.