New Hartford – Four New Hartford student athletes inked NCAA Division I National Letters of Intent on Wednesday afternoon, in front of a big crowd of family, friends, coaches and fellow students at New Hartford High School.
After a pride filled introduction from Athletic Director John Banek, Spartan athletes Abby Buchholz, Nick Buchholz, Natalie Burns and Liam Ronan put their pens to paper, formally accepting NCAA Division I Athletic Scholarships.
How big an accomplishment is it to reach the NCAA Division I level? Well, for the Buchholz twins and Natalie Burns, who are all committed to play Soccer, only 1.3% of high school soccer players make it to D-1. For Lacrosse, which Liam Ronan has committed to play, just 2.9% of players in high school advance to NCAA Division I.
Abby Buchholz, a standout keeper for the Lady Spartans Soccer Team for the past 4 seasons, has committed to play at The University of North Carolina Greensboro. Abby will study Biology – Pre-Med.
Nick Buchholz, a stellar keeper for the Spartans boy’s squad for 3 consecutive years, will join the – Appalachian State University Mountaineers this coming fall.
Natalie Burns, a four year mainstay at midfield for the Lady Spartans, has accepted a scholarship to play for The University at Albany Great Danes in 2019. Natalie will study Business and Finance.
Liam Ronan, a 6’4″ defender for the Spartans Lacrosse Team, is heading to Stonybrook University to join the Sea Wolves in the America East Conference. Liam will study Mechanical Engineering.
After the ceremony, Ronan quickly credited his parents, Kevin and Erin Ronan for their support of his endeavors and also said he owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to Spartans Head Coach Dan Pope. “He (Coach Pope) saw something in me in 7th grade and hasn’t stopped pushing me since, it’s made a huge difference in what got me here” Ronan explained.
Liam’s Mom, Erin, was in attendance and explained that the Ronan Family couldn’t be more proud of their son and brother, adding “he’s (Liam) going to a great school to do what he loves, what could be better”.
As for Nick and Abby Buchholz, some good old fashioned sibling rivalry may have played a big part in getting them to where they are today. “He (Nick) was a keeper first and I think I became a keeper just to try to do it better than him” Abby explained. The Buchholz twins were each quick to praise their respective soccer teammates and coaches, as well as the environment for student athletes at New Hartford. “You have to step it up here, it’s just expected” Nick Buchholz said, while Abby offered “between the course load in the classroom and the demands of soccer, you just have to be on top of your game all the time”.
Dave and Gayle Buchholz, Nick and Abby’s parents, were on hand today and shared relief that the college selection process was over for their kids and both could get ready to go to school. “It’s a long, tough process” Mr. Buchholz said, “the travel to so many tournaments and ID camps takes it toll on everyone but it is all worth it”.
The Buchholz twins were also members of SDA Soccer (Syracuse Development Academy) Club, along with fellow Spartan Natalie Burns.
According to all three players, the SDA experience greatly enhanced their skill sets, which translated into better results on their high school teams. “SDA has made a huge difference for me” Natalie Burns explained. “The competition level, the camps, the tournaments we went to, everything was just amazing”.
Also in attendance today was Natalie’s proud Mom, Tracy Facchini, who was quick to point out that today had dual special meaning as Natalie was celebrating her 18th birthday. Aside from birthday wishes, Tracy Facchini explained that today’s signing ceremony was the culmination of a lot of hard work by her daughter. “I am proud of her (Natalie) on so many levels, she is just a great kid who set goals for herself and reached them, I can’t wait to watch her at the next level”.
Also on hand to stream all of the “action” of today’s signing ceremony were Joe Puccio and Tom Mumau, leading members of New Hartford Central Radio, or NHCR as it popularly know. Coming tomorrow, we’ll take a look inside NHCR and the tremendous job they are doing for the Communications Club at New Hartford High School.
Congratulations Abby, Nick, Natalie and Liam on your tremendous achievements, as well as your collective job well done as ambassadors for New Hartford Athletics. Good Luck to you all!