Student-athletes throughout Anne Arundel County and all over the country celebrated significant milestones on November 13 when they signed National Letters of Intent to make their college commitments official.
Severna Park and many other area high schools held Signing Day ceremonies to mark the occasion and to celebrate the successful journey of students who will continue their athletic careers at the college level.
At Severna Park, a total of 11 kids took to the stage in the school’s auditorium to be feted by friends and family proud to see them realize their long-pursued goals. The Falcons’ class of college-bound student-athletes includes Evan Lewis (baseball, Louisiana Tech), Ben Morgan (boys lacrosse, Fairfield University), Connor Panebianco (boys lacrosse, UMBC), Christopher Savani (boys lacrosse, Frostburg University) Henry Wood (boys lacrosse, Ohio Wesleyan), Michael Harmeyer (boys lacrosse, University of Virginia), Lila Slattery (field hockey, Northwestern University), Abbi Jones (girls lacrosse, East Stroudsburg University), Camryn Chew (girls lacrosse, Loyola University), Julia Putzi (girls lacrosse, Butler University) and Sophie Grazioli (girls lacrosse, Fairfield University).
Broadneck’s class of student-athlete signees will hold their signing ceremony on the afternoon of November 14.
The route to playing college sports is unique for each individual. Some are heavily recruited from an earlier age by a large pool of schools, while others mature later and don’t necessarily know if playing in college is a realistic ambition until they begin to excel and more and more. Often the process includes a recruiting period and multiple college visits, all while students continue to train for and play sports and strive to maintain a strong academic record.
As such, student-athletes and their families reach Signing Day with a sense of pride and accomplishment for having arrived at a goal that was pursued for months or even years.
Harmeyer, a key member of the Severna Park boys lacrosse team’s state championships each of the last two seasons, is bound for Virginia, one of the perennial college powers in Division I men’s lacrosse. He’s been verbally committed for over a year, but November 13 was the first day Class of 2020 students were able to officially sign. Harmeyer said he’s “very blessed I was able to have parents that took the time out of their busy schedule to travel for tournaments and many practices while I was growing up as a kid,” and he was happy to make his commitment official.
“I am very proud to reach this goal,” Harmeyer said. “Ever since I was a little kid I always wanted to play Division I lacrosse. So finally reaching my dream is something I’m very happy about. As a student athlete, I had to work countless hours to accomplish this goal. It’s something that came with a lot of hard work and dedication to lacrosse and academics.”
He said the Cavaliers’ coaching staff made him feel like it was the place where he could best develop as a player and person, adding that “right when I stepped foot on campus at UVA I could tell it was going to be my home.”
Lewis, who committed to play for the Lousiana Tech baseball program, took a more circuitous route to playing college sports. By his own admission he wasn’t the most touted baseball prospect when he entered high school, but he received good guidance and direction from his high school and club coaches and put in the work to get to this point.
“My freshman year I was the backup third baseman on the JV team,” said Lewis. “So being where I am today was something I never thought I’d be able to achieve, only ever dreamed of it. There’s a lot of sacrifices. You have to be able to balance school, lifting, baseball, family, friends and fun. I’m extremely proud of reaching this goal.”
Lewis, a pitcher, began more intensive weight training in his sophomore year and, this past summer, excelled with his club team at a tournament in Atlanta, where he showed fastball speeds of 92 miles per hour to shut down an opposing team from Texas stacked with college-level talent.
That performance coupled with his prior body of work led to an opportunity to choose Louisiana Tech.
“There’s so many things that I love about Louisiana Tech,” said Lewis, who said he draws motivation from his parents, Ellen and Marty Lewis. “It’s a great academic school, a medium-sized school, a high-level D-I baseball team, and what I love most is the coaches and players.”
He added Louisiana Tech also has the priorities of hungry teenage athletes well covered.
“They also have two Chik-fil-A’s, which is crazy,” said Lewis.
Slattery, Severna Park’s field hockey star, has had a big week. She committed to Northwestern on Wednesday, less than four days after leading the Falcons to a state championship win over Dulaney.
Putzi was a key member of the Severna Park girls lacrosse team that won the state championship last season, and she’ll continue her lacrosse career at Butler. She said she has been determined to play college lacrosse for almost a decade.
“I have been set on playing lacrosse in college since fourth grade when I started club,” Putzi said. “I knew that’s what I wanted and never looked back. Signing, to me, signifies all the hard work that was put into this process, both on and off the field.”
Her goal began to take shape over the past year and a half.
“Over the past 18 months, my parents and I had to make a lot of sacrifices to make my dream a reality. There was a lot of travel, few free weekends, and a lot of uncertainty before I found Butler,” Putzi said. “Right away, though, I knew I was going to end up there, and I’m so happy about my decision. I love that the student body is pretty small but it has the Big East Athletics, which is something I love. I will also be majoring in marketing or another business field in the Lacy School of Business, which is brand new.”
Like Harmeyer and Lewis and all the athletes on stage on Wednesday, Putzi appreciated the help of the people in her life who helped her achieve her goals.
“I have been super excited for the opportunity to play lacrosse in college,” said Putzi. “I would love to thank my family and coaches for the opportunities they have given me.”