Signing day a success big and small all over the North Shore

Athletes commit to colleges

Feb. 14, 2014

The national collegiate signing day events in the North Shore on Feb. 5 were varied to say the least.

Some had long tables to cater to many athletes in many sports (see Homestead and Whitefish Bay) while others with smaller numbers and shorter tables still had to work hard to contain the big dreams contained within them (see Nicolet and Messmer).

Messmer, part of the Shorewood/Messmer football program, was one school with big reasons to celebrate. Not only was two-time NOW All-Suburban tight end Jonathan Carson earning the first Division I football scholarship for the school since Bobby Lesczynski in 1975, the program was also celebrating the fact that NOW All-Suburban defensive lineman Tywan Ramsey was also getting a football championship subdivision ride to South Dakota State.

Football coach Drake Zortman was beaming with pride.

"We're doing this in the same room where I interviewed three years ago (for the head coaching position)," he said, "and I think of where we started and where we are right now. These kids worked hard for it. Their academics are in order and somebody noticed how well these young men played.

"...This is a special and historic day. I couldn't be happier or prouder for anyone in my 20 years of coaching."

The multimedia room was crowded with family, friends and staff and many, many pictures were taken as everyone wanted to be a part of this grand event which came on the heels of the team's first conference title last fall.

Carson had finalized his arrangements with Central Michigan last fall where he liked the family atmosphere of the school. He plans to major in health and fitness.

Meanwhile, everyone worked hard to get the talented 6-4, 280-pound Ramsey a look somewhere and it paid off recently.

"It was just a spur of the moment thing and started coming together in December," he said of Dakota. "I took a visit and I liked the family environment that they had there. It was clear that I could get a good education (he intends to major in nursing) while making myself better in sports there."

Whitefish Bay

There were nine athletes at Bay in the quick and fun ceremony held in the Link. Old friends like Lily Hayes (track at Brown University) posed for pictures with friends like Sara Coffey (track and cross country at Northwestern).

There were teammates in football (Colin Downing at Iowa State, Tyler Terveer at Drake and Turner DeMuth at Columbia) and soccer (Caroline Fink at Marquette, Cassidy Blanchard and Erin Corrigan both at UW-Milwaukee) and one happy basketball superstar (Maya Jonas of Northwestern) who, when asked to give a speech, could only laugh and say "Go Cats."

She was not the only one with a sense of humor, as when Athletic Director John Gustavson went down the line and asked everyone where they were going to school and what sport they were going to be involved in, the NOW All-Suburban football selection Downing elicited a chuckle when he said "I'm going to Iowa State and I'm going to punt."

As everyone knows, Jonas is the good story here, coming back off a major knee injury 11/2 years ago to earn a major Division I scholarship. She had offers from Michigan and Harvard as well but when she visited Evanston, Ill., she said she just "fell in love with the whole atmosphere."

That was the same for Coffey, who will join her on that lovely campus. Coffey, a leader for the state runner-up Blue Dukes cross country team had visited UC-Santa Clara the previous weekend, came back home and then made her decision to go to Northwestern.

"I also really liked the potential of the team," she said. "They're going to get a lot better soon and I just loved the coach. They also have amazing academics down there."


There was a similar event at Homestead, as an imposing 14 high-level athletes announced their intentions. There was a state record-holding swimmer (Nick Petersen to Northwestern), a boys volleyball player (Blake Leeson to Ohio State), a tennis team state champion (Mardee Merar to UW-Milwaukee), another swimmer (Meghan Casey to Tufts), yet another tennis player (Danny Coran to Tufts), four football players (Bryce Juedes to the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Jordan Lewinsky to Drake, Jon Weyker to Southwest Minnesota State and Eric Wade to UW-Whitewater); and five, count them five, soccer players.

Two of those soccer players, Mollie Rosen (Northeastern) and Elyse Hansen (Florida Gulf Coast), got offers after fine prep careers spent primarily on the club level, while the other three, Shannon Greeley (Ball State), Mikaella Sabinash (Winona State) and Shay Darga (Southeast Missouri State) will all be four-year letterwinners for the Highlanders high school under coach Rich Dorn.

"They are great kids and co-captains (for the spring)," Dorn said of the three. "I love that they're getting this opportunity. They're very dedicated and provide good leadership. We had so many young ones out there on the team (last year) and they really helped develop camaraderie."


Emma Keckeisen signed a letter of intent to play soccer at Western Illinois on Feb. 5. Athletic Director Kirk Krychowiak had a nice set-up for her in the D-wing library, including a podium, 25 chairs and a head table.

Her family brought Western Illinois memorabilia and both her high school and club coach came to speak.

In fact, it was much like the other celebratory ceremonies this day, only a bit smaller. But what Krychowiak said in his e-mail concerning the set-up for the event applied to everyone setting off for their futures this day.

"Let's make this a great memory for Emma."

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