Belchertown’s Kayla Henry, Cara McKenzie, Lauryn Parent commit to college sports

  • Kayla Henry, sitting, with her club teammates Kylie Ratelle, left, of Chicopee, Granby’s Erin Mikalchus and Ludlow’s Nissa Pereira at Belchertown’s National Signing Day ceremony Wednesday in Belchertown. Henry signed to play soccer at Stonehill College. GAZETTE STAFF / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Lauryn Parent committed to play soccer at Wheaton College on National Signing Day on Wednesday. She’s focused on soccer her entire career, and that gave her an opportunity to compete at the next level. GAZETTE STAFF / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • From left, Lauryn Parent, Cara McKenzie and Kayla Henry comitted to continue their athletic careers Wednesday at a ceremony at Belchertown High School. Parent and Henry will play soccer, while McKenzie will play volleyball. GAZETTE STAFF / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Cara McKenzie signed to play volleyball at Adelphi University on Wednesday with coach Scott Poulin. GAZETTE STAFF / KYLE GRABOWSKI

Published: 2/1/2017 8:03:34 PM

BELCHERTOWN — Stonehill College kept appearing on the lists at the soccer showcases Belchertown’s Kayla Henry played in for her club team.

After learning the Division II school was in Easton, she began researching. That led to emailing the coach and a campus tour.

“I loved the campus. When I met the coach, I thought she knew exactly what she wanted to do, and she had good goals. I liked her a lot,” Henry said. “I’ve never had a woman coach, ever. I was hesitant about that. She was really sure of everything, really knowledgeable about it. I liked that aspect.”

Henry, a National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-America selection, also considered Bryant before deciding to become a Skyhawk. She signed her National Letter of Intent on Wednesday at Belchertown High School with two other seniors, Cara McKenzie and Lauryn Parent.

Though Henry also excels on the basketball floor, playing on the hardwood in college never entered Henry’s mind. She’s always been focused on the pitch.

“I had my mind set on soccer,” she said. “I can’t imagine not playing soccer.”

McKenzie, her basketball teammate, made a similar decision about volleyball.

“I always knew I wanted to play volleyball for as long as I possibly could, ever since I picked up a ball my freshman year,” McKenzie said. “I definitely decided that volleyball was the sport for me.”

She’ll play at Adelphi University on Long Island.

McKenzie added Adelphi to her list of potential schools after perusing the Division II volleyball rankings.

“I saw that Adelphi was No. 1 in New England at the time,” she said. “(Coach Danielle MacKnight) was unbelievably kind to me. I just fell in love with the school the second I got there.”

It also provides her an opportunity to study sports management in the right setting — not too close to home, but not too far, either.

“I definitely wanted to get out and experience the world outside of western Massachusetts,” McKenzie said. “I love New York City.”

Parent wants less city lights, more small-town feel.

She started looking at Division III Wheaton College after a club coach suggested she’d fit in there.

“It’s small campus, so it really felt like a community, and that was important,” Parent said.

Parent focused on soccer for her athletic career, and it delivered her an opportunity to advance her education.

“Throughout the whole process, my main concern was education,” she said.

All three are part of the first crop of athletes Belchertown athletic director Bruce Hastings has gotten to know in the two years he’s been at the school.

“It’s always good to have examples of kids who move on to the next level because it gives other kids someone to look at and say ‘hey I can do that too if I work as hard as they did,’” Hastings said.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at


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