Easthampton signing day: Six residents confirm their college commitments

  • Six Easthampton residents were honored Wednesday at the Easthampton Fire Department for National Signing Day. From left, Hampshire Regional’s Brielle Bergeron, Hampshire’s Taylor Mitchell, Easthampton’s Ant Moynihan, Phillips Andover’s Anthony Redfern, Easthampton’s Sopie Pek, Easthampton’s Lisa Sikop and Easthampton’s Dawson Wolcott pose at a commitment ceremony. GAZETTE STAFF / KYLE GRABOWSKI

Published: 4/11/2018 8:41:36 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Sopie Pek first heard the news shooting in the gym.

Mount Ida coach Brian Cerone texted Pek to call him immediately on Friday. That call brought bad news.

UMass purchased Mount Ida’s campus in Newton to become the future location of programs that will prepare students for science and technology careers. The school would close. Cerone was out of a job.

Pek had committed to Mount Ida six weeks ago. Now, the Easthampton senior needed a school and a team for next year.

“I was devastated. I was crying. It hit me pretty bad,” Pek said. “That coach reminded me so much of my high school coach (Brian Miller) He was always there for me. It was very sad.”

Pek was offered enrollment into UMass Dartmouth, but he didn’t want to go there. He re-opened his recruitment in pursuit of a better academic and basketball fit.

Jason Moynihan, Pek’s AAU coach and team trainer, quickly offered assistance. He composed a thread of tweets highlighting Pek’s basketball prowess, work ethic and academic chops and reached out to other Division III coaches in the area.

“When coaches found out he was available, it was like floodgates,” Moynihan said.

They’ve heard from 15 schools already, including Southern Vermont. Pek has visits scheduled and expects to make a decision soon.

“I didn’t expect that many colleges to be looking at me,” Pek said. “The whole Easthampton community was helping me. I don’t know what I would do without them.”

Even though he didn’t have an official college commitment Tuesday, Pek was still honored along with six other Easthampton residents at the Easthampton Fire Department for signing day.

Phillips Andover senior Anthony Redfern, who played baseball for the Eagles for two seasons, affirmed his long commitment to Georgetown. The pitcher signed his National Letter of Intent, making good on a verbal pledge from Thanksgiving 2016. He was officially accepted a few weeks ago.

“It’s a long day coming to make everything official,” Redfern said. “To sign that paper and make sure was awesome.”

Hampshire Regional student Brielle Bergeron committed to the University of St. Joseph’s in Maine. She’ll compete in both softball and diving at the Division III level.

“It was important (to do both). I’d only been diving for three years whereas I’ve been playing softball all my life, but I wasn’t ready to end doing both,” she said.

St. Joseph’s being a Division III school facilitated that opportunity. She will study nursing, another box her potential school needed to check. Keeping up with academics and two collegiate sports could be tricky.

“I’m definitely worried that I’m going to have no time,” she said. “I’ll figure it out.”

Hampshire Regional’s Taylor Mitchell practically stumbled into a spot on Maine’s Division I diving team. Taylor and her father, Morgan, were visiting the school in Orono when her father suggested they swing by the pool to see if there was a practice. They showed up for the final 10 minutes of the season’s last practice before talking to the coaches.

Mitchell attended the America East Championship meet at WPI in February, and Maine coach Tim Smith offered her a spot.

“This dream didn’t come around until two years ago. I’ve only been diving for two years,” Mitchell said.

She was nervous about her ability to compete at that level until she attended a clinic at UMass with Mandy Hixon. Hixon told her that one of her star divers didn’t start until he was in college.

“And he’s amazing, so if he could do it, why can’t I?” Mitchell said.

Mitchell originally looked at Maine for its marine biology program, but is now considering majoring in English with an eye on becoming a teacher.

Easthampton’s Lisa Sikop checked a box that she was interested in playing volleyball when she applied to Bay Path University. Then she forgot about it.

Sikop thought she wouldn’t play a sport in college and wanted to focus on academics. Then she attended a scholarship dinner at Bay Path, and Pat Annecchiarico approached, excited about her joining his team.

“He said academics come first, so I was like ‘OK, I’ll play,’” Sikop said. “It was an easy decision.”

Her major will be forensics, and she chose the school over the University of New Haven.

Ant Moynihan confirmed his commitment to Grinell College for basketball, and Dawson Wolcott will continue his baseball career at Nichols.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com.

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