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Six NHS Athletes Sign Their NLI to Big Division One Schools

Commitments are Now Official


November 14th is a very important and special day for athletes across the nation. This is the first National Signing Day of the year for seniors who are committing to a college. This means that athletes who have verbally committed to a college for a sport can sign a letter called the National Letter of Intent (NLI) and make their commitment official.


On Wednesday, November 14th, NHS held a signing day in the media center for the six athletes that were making their commitment to Division 1 schools official. The NHS athletes who signed on this day were Alaina Feaster and Alexis Nguyen to Rutgers University (rowing), Courtney Wilde to Rutgers University (softball), Jonathan Luberto to Rutgers University (baseball), Marty Higgins to St. John's University (baseball), and Josh O’Neill to Stony Brook University (baseball).


This is one of the largest groups of athletes signing to Division 1 schools in NHS history. To have six athletes sign this early is an achievement for the coaches, the school, and especially the student athletes. This day means that all the stress is relieved and they can go through their senior year not having to worry about getting into college. As well, it means that their hard work has officially paid off and their commitment is set in stone.


Courtney Wilde has been a two-year varsity starter for the softball team and has always played a key role for the team. It is no surprise that she has been given this opportunity to play at Rutgers and she is very thankful for everything. Courtney reflected on what this signing day meant for her.  “It means that my goal has finally been achieved but it does not stop there,” she said. “The whole situation could not have been any better because I am going to a great school and it’s in a good location so my parents could come to my games. But mainly I am grateful for everything. I am grateful for everyone that has helped and for the opportunity that was given to me.”


Wilde could not have achieved this without her incredibly hard work ethic. She is constantly training and working to get better. She has worked very hard to get to where she is today, but she says, “it does not stop there.” Wilde has big time goals from the moment she steps on the field as a Scarlet Knight. She wants to try and start in the outfield as a freshman and be a main contributor to the team. With the way Courtney has worked up to this point and the way she talks about her potential future, she is on track for greatness and NHS wishes her the best of luck.


Courtney's parents were proud of her achievement and grateful of the opportunities NHS has provided. As parents, everyone stresses about getting their kids into a good college, but for parents who are helping their children find a college fitting their athletic skills, it is a whole different kind of stress and worries. For Mary and Bill Wilde, the process was exciting but they were also worried. They were relieved that Courtney was able to sign before her upcoming spring season campaign. “It’s a big weight off our shoulders that Courtney got this out of the way before her whole senior year started. Now she can focus on her last year with Nutley stress free,” says Bill Wilde.


Despite their nerves over the decision-making process, they were so proud of what she had accomplished. “I’m so proud of Courtney because of the work she put in. She made a lot of sacrifices to get to where she is,” says Bill Wilde. Now with Courtney going to Rutgers, her parents will be able to continue their support and show up to her games because of Rutgers’ location.


Three of the NHS baseball players signed their NLI on Wednesday. The three were Marty Higgins (St. John’s), John Luberto (Rutgers), and Josh O’Neill (Stony Brook). For Marty Higgins, he was able to verbally commit to St. John’s after having an electric summer season leading into his junior year. He has been waiting for more than a year to make his commitment official so this day means a lot especially because of how long he has been waiting. “This day means that all of my hard work has finally paid off and I feel as though it is a reward. I’ve always dreamed of signing to become a division one athlete and this day made it come true. It is so surreal,” says Higgins.


Marty has played a big role for the varsity baseball team, starting in the infield and batting towards the top of the lineup since the moment he made the team. However, he was not just handed the starting job. Like everyone else, he had to work hard, not only to get the starting job as a freshman but also to do bigger things. She signed with St. John's, a Division I school with a successful baseball program. “I’ve really put in as much work as I could to become a division one athlete ever since middle school. It was a goal that seemed possible and from that point on, that is all I wanted,” says Higgins. Marty will definitely continue to dream of even bigger achievements now and he will set his mind to it. For now, some of his goals when he gets to St. John’s will be becoming the best baseball player he could be as well as the best student he could be in the classroom.


As much as it is important to the students, it is also important to the administrators of the school. Javanna Ritacco, who is the Athletic Director’s secretary, has a very good relationship with all of the athletes within the school. She is one of the administrators who knows the personalities and potential of these athletes, and she enjoys getting to know the student athletes and watching them grow. “As a secretary to the Athletic Department, it is a great pleasure to be able to watch the athletes excel in the classroom and on the field,” says Ritacco. Because of her role as well as her relationship with the students, she could see the potential future for all six students who signed. “I see a bright future for all athletes. They all have a great head on their shoulders and know the work doesn't stop here!  I expect them to stay true to themselves, exceed their own expectations, and never stop working toward your goals,” says Ritacco.


A big congratulations goes to Courtney, Marty, Alaina, Johnny, Alexis, and Josh for their remarkable achievement and it will be great to see what they will do in the future. NHS will forever be a part of their history and hopefully the Raider Nation will never be forgotten through all of their future successes.