Williston signing day: Southampton’s Caroline O’Connor to join sister Katy at Wesleyan

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  • Twenty-four Williston Northampton athletes announced their college commitments Monday at the Sabrina Cain Family Athletic Center on the school’s campus in Easthampton. GAZETTE STAFF / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Southampton’s Caroline O’Connor, center, with her dad, Tom, and mom, Kelly, at the Williston Northampton winter college commitment ceremony Monday in Easthampton. She will join her sister Katy O’Connor on the Wesleyan women’s basketball team next season. GAZETTE STAFF / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Northampton’s Nick Heafey at the Williston Northampton winter college commitment ceremony Monday in Easthampton. He will play soccer for Brandeis next year. GAZETTE STAFF / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Amherst’s Julia Farnham at the Williston Northampton winter college commitment ceremony Monday in Easthampton. She’ll play for the Vassar women’s soccer team next season. GAZETTE STAFF / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Holyoke’s Connor Cavanagh at the Williston Northampton winter college commitment ceremony Monday in Easthampton. He’ll compete for the Army gymnastics team next year. GAZETTE STAFF / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Granby’s Jonathan Toth at the Williston Northampton winter college commitment ceremony Monday in Easthampton. He’ll continue his baseball career at Muhlenberg College next year. GAZETTE STAFF / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Easthampton’s Dylan Fulcher-Melendy at the Williston Northampton winter college commitment ceremony Monday in Easthampton. She’ll play at Williams College next year. GAZETTE STAFF / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • UMass football signee Dom Behrens at the Williston Northampton winter college commitment ceremony Monday in Easthampton. The three-star prospect is part of a class expected to make an early impact for the Minutemen. GAZETTE STAFF / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Northampton’s Oscar DeFrancis at the Williston Northampton winter college commitment ceremony Monday in Easthampton. He will run for Middlebury’s cross country and track programs next season. GAZETTE STAFF / KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Reports
Published: 2/10/2020 10:50:06 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Caroline O’Connor had to leave home to find where she belonged.

The Williston Northampton senior played at Hampshire Regional from her eighth grade year until she was a junior, winning a Western Massachusetts Division 3 title and appearing in a state final in 2018. Then she transferred to Northfield Mount Hermon and reclassified to the Class of 2020, repeating her junior year.

“It was a really big decision for me to leave Hampshire. That was my comfort zone on that varsity team with coach (Amy) Cyr since I was an eighth grader. It felt like home,” O’Connor said. “I wanted to have a career in college basketball. This was a step that I needed to take to get where I am right now.”

She changed schools again for her senior year, returning closer to her home in Southampton to attend the Williston Northampton School.

“I’m glad I took (this step), but it definitely was hard,” O’Connor said. “I’m really happy at Williston, I think it was the right choice for me.”

Her basketball career won’t end when the Wildcats wrap their winter season. O’Connor will play at Wesleyan, joining her older sister Katy O’Connor.

“I went through options, and every school I looked at wasn’t Wesleyan. I was afraid I was just following my sister and I wanted to find my own school. But Wes is the right school for me,” Caroline O’Connor said. “She’s excited for me to come, we’re actually really close. It’s gonna be good to be together again, she’s like my best friend. It’s going to be weird playing for the same team again, but I’m excited about it.”

O’Connor announced her commitment Monday alongside 23 other Williston athletes. They represent 20 percent of the Wildcats’ graduating class.

Five of those athletes signed Division I letters of intent, including offensive tackle Dom Behrens, who committed to play football at UMass. He joins a 25-member class the Minutemen will count on to contribute quickly.

“They showed me a lot of love from the beginning,” Behrens said. “I think the next three years, UMass is going to be a whole different program.”

Other local students who announced their commitments Monday:

Connor Cavanaugh (Holyoke), Army gymnastics — “The coaches are really great. When I went on my official visit in November they had the best equipment, the best gym, all your nutritional needs. Really good guys on the team that made me feel like a brother.”

Oscar DeFrancis (Northampton), Middlebury cross country/track & field — “Academics was definitely the priority, and I wanted to keep running, so it was a great fit. We don’t have indoor track at Williston, So I’m excited to be able to do all three sports and be able to be competing all year.”

Julia Farnham (Amherst), Vassar soccer — “It’s always been soccer, that’s always been my main sport. In terms of Vassar, I connected with the coach (Corey Holton) right away. She has a good sense of humor. I love the campus.”

Dylan Fulcher-Melendy (Easthampton), Williams women’s volleyball — “I went for academics over athletics, so I looked for the best academic school I could go to. And club water polo is still an option there. I like the small liberal arts school feel. The community is tight-knit. Some of the water polo schools were a bit too big for me.”

Nick Heafey (Northampton), Brandeis soccer — “We went to a showcase at Loomis Chaffee School and played one of the best teams in the country. There were a bunch of scouts at the game. I wasn’t going into it trying to get recruited, but after the game I had a bunch of schools call me. I fell in love with (Brandeis).”

Jonathan Toth (Granby), Muhlenberg baseball — “My contact with this school happened really fast, and the process was really quick. I think I have a good shot of playing early on. It’s a combination of athletic, academic and financial fit all in one.”

Other commitments

■Aidan Bourbonnais, Springfield College field hockey

■Henri Bourque, Merrimack football

■Noah Brooks, Colby men’s lacrosse

■Sydney Ewell, Nichols women’s hockey

■Kyle Grabowski, Endicott baseball

■Jesse Griggs, Bates football

■Martin Latham, Holy Cross football

■Blake Leveston, Franklin and Marshall men’s lacrosse

■Gabe Liu, Tulane football

■Cal Messina, Trinity football

■Zach Mills, Columbia football

■Chris Najarian, St. Lawrence football

■Joe Rees, Clarkson men’s lacrosse

■Riley Roche, Colby football

■Hector Samayoa, RIT men’s soccer

■Will Strout, Bentley football

■Kevin Talbot, Wesleyan men’s lacrosse




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