Williston celebrates 23 college-bound athletes

  • Easthampton’s Tim Fay at Williston’s College Commitment Ceremony on Monday in Easthampton. He’ll play baseball at Gettysburg next season. GAZETTE STAFF / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Easthampton’s Fiona Bundy at Williston’s College Commitment Ceremony on Monday in Easthampton. She’ll play lacrosse at Bowdoin next season. GAZETTE STAFF / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Hatfield’s Caroline Channell at Williston’s College Commitment Ceremony on Monday in Easthampton. She’ll play field hockey at Haverford next season. GAZETTE STAFF / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Northampton’s Sophia Schaefer at Williston’s College Commitment Ceremony on Monday in Easthampton. She’ll play lacrosse at Bowdoin next season. GAZETTE STAFF / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Williston Northampton’s college-committed senior athletes at Williston’s College Commitment Ceremony on Monday in Easthampton. GAZETTE STAFF / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Easthampton’s Madison Fulcher-Melendy at Williston’s College Commitment Ceremony on Monday in Easthampton. She’ll play lacrosse at Williams next season. GAZETTE STAFF / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Easthampton’s Henry Poehlein at Williston’s College Commitment Ceremony on Monday in Easthampton. He’ll play squash at Fordham next season. GAZETTE STAFF / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Easthampton’s Mike Janocha at Williston’s College Commitment Ceremony on Monday in Easthampton. He’ll play lacrosse at St. Joseph’s College of Maine next season. GAZETTE STAFF / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Hatfield’s Maya Soley at Williston’s College Commitment Ceremony on Monday in Easthampton. She’ll swim at Roger Williams next season. GAZETTE STAFF / KYLE GRABOWSKI

@kylegrbwsk
Published: 2/6/2018 12:46:12 AM

EASTHAMPTON — Fiona Bundy, Madison Fulcher-Melendy and Sophia Schaefer grew up playing lacrosse together.

The three Williston Northampton seniors played on the same youth and club teams, as well as form part of the Wildcats’ senior core for the upcoming spring season.

They’ll be on opposite sides of the field come next year.

Bundy, of Easthampton, and Northampton’s Schaefer will play at Bowdoin, while Fulcher-Melendy, from Easthampton, is heading to Williams. They were honored at a ceremony Monday at Williston to celebrate its winter signees.

Bowdoin and Williams meet once a year in the NESCAC regular season.

“I’ve played lacrosse with them since third grade, and they’ve always been on my team,” Fulcher-Melendy said. “Seeing them on the other side will be so weird.”

Each senior came to her own decision about where to attend college. Bundy knew she’d attend Bowdoin before Schaefer did.

“The community there stuck out right away,” Bundy said. “If I wasn’t playing lacrosse I’d be really happy.”

Schaefer enjoyed her tour and meeting the players on the lacrosse team. Playing with Bundy was an added bonus.

“She’s my best friend, I’ve known her since kindergarten,” Schaefer said.

Bundy cried when Schaefer told her she’d also be a Polar Bear.

“I was so happy,” Bundy said.

Williams drew Fulcher-Melendy in with its mix of athletic and academic opportunities. New Ephs coach Alice Lee also impressed her on a visit.

“I was really excited about her and her energy, and I thought it would be a good fit for me,” Fulcher-Melendy said.

Those Bowdoin matchups will be complicated contests for Williston coach Jen Fulcher.

“I’ll root for Williams but cheer for Fiona and Sophia,” Fulcher said.

She saw four of her seniors honored for their collegiate commitments.

“This is the good stuff,” Fulcher said.

Brooke Leveille (Babson) gives Williston four lacrosse players moving on to college. They were part of a 23-strong class of Wildcats honored.

Five athletes will play Division I sports. Marielle McHale signed a National Letter of Intent to play hockey at Syracuse, while three football players will play at the FCS level: Braeden Held to Lafayette, Michael Polk to Princeton and Xavier Thibault to Columbia. Holy Cross men’s golf added Jack Phelan, of East Longmeadow.

“It’s a reflection of the quality of our program,” Williston athletic director Mark Conroy said.

Conroy said 25 to 30 percent of Williston’s 2018 graduating athletes are playing in college compared to a national average of 5 percent.

“It reflects on the quality of the coaching and the experience here,” he said.

Of the 23 players, eight, including the three lacrosse players, are from Hampshire County:

Caroline Channell (Hatfield), Haverford field hockey — “It was definitely academics first, then field hockey. I want to study chemistry.”

Tim Fay (Easthampton), Gettysburg baseball — “The school itself is really oriented toward a political science and history major. That’s what I want to pursue academically. I began looking at the school from an academic standpoint, then the baseball fell into place afterward.”

Mike Janocha (Easthampton), St. Joseph’s College (Maine) lacrosse — “Their business program offered a lot of things the other schools didn’t. The coaches said I can compete for (a starting spot). I have a chance playing my first year.”

Henry Poehlein (Easthampton), Fordham squash — “I went to a bunch of different schools, and I fit in with the people there a lot more. (Being in New York) was another one of the reasons.”

Maya Soley (Hatfield), Roger Williams swimming — “It felt like Williston, but a little bigger and on the coast, which was amazing. (It was about) mostly swimming.”

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

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