A total of 11 Saint Viator student-athletes stepped up Wednesday to sign their National Letter of Intent, signaling the end of the recruitment process and their commitment to participate in college athletics.
Of the 11, seven were lacrosse players – six from the boys’ team and one from the girls’ team – committing to play at highly regarded programs, ranging from the East Coast to the Midwest.
Head Coach Patrick Gaeger ’08, credited his mentor and former coach, Bill Sanford, whom he succeeded with establishing a culture of winning in Saint Viator’s program.
“This culture has now spanned generations and has generated an alumni network of hundreds of players,” Gaeger says. “The boys understand that being a member of the Saint Viator lacrosse program, continues with you well after your four years here.
“The hunger to go and be community leaders both on and off the field is astonishing,” he adds. “That is why so many boys feel compelled to play lacrosse at the next level.”
Twin brothers Connor and Jacob Freeman committed to playing Division I lacrosse at Lafayette College in Easton, PA. Both are midfielders who will bring their natural connection and high scoring attack to the Lafayette Leopards, who compete in the Patriot League.
“We’re excited,” Connor said. “I think we can both bring positive energy to the team.”
Another lacrosse player, Giovanni Armocida, committed to playing Division 1 lacrosse at Wagner College, located on Staten Island in New York. As a long stick midfielder, Giovanni will be a valuable utility player to the Sea Hawks, who compete in the Northeast Conference.
Their teammate, Zo Lombardo, committed to playing D-I lacrosse at Bellarmine University in Louisville. The talented midfielder will be playing for first-year coach, Andrew Whitley, in the Southern Conference.
Olivia Moorman, a draw specialist who plays the attack position in the field, committed to playing DI lacrosse at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, MI. Lions’ head coach, Suzanne Rich, said Olivia helped bring Saint Viator lacrosse to a whole other level.
“I expect Olivia will be an impact player her freshman year,” Rich said. “She brings her strong athleticism and dedication, and is just a great team player.”
Rounding out the lacrosse players were Nick Boey, who committed to playing at Aurora University in Aurora; Alec Gern, who committed to playing at Carthage College in Kenosha; and Michael Campagna, who continues the streak of Saint Viator Lions to play at Illinois Weslyan University in Bloomington.
Connor Kochera was the lone representative from the boys’ basketball team. He signed a letter of intent to play Division I ball at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA. The shooting guard drew lots of attention from college coaches this summer but ultimately settled on playing for the Tribe.
“I felt comfortable right away when I visited, but I also knew they offered strong academics,” Connor said. “I’m hoping to bring my play-making ability and shooting to the team.”
Jack Mahoney, a pitcher, and shortstop, verbally committed as a sophomore to playing baseball for the University of South Carolina Gamecocks, but Wednesday he made it official.
“I like the history and culture of being a Gamecock,” said Jack, who was the starting shortstop as a freshman to play on Saint Viator’s state championship baseball team in 2016.
Coach Mike Manno described Jack as a four-year starter who contributed to the team as a leader and as an athlete.
“We knew the minute he walked into the building that he was a D-1 player,” Manno said.
Athan Huelskamp could have played college football – he lined up as a lineman on both sides of the ball – but once he learned to throw the shot put and discus in track, he knew what he wanted to continue in college.
Athan signed a letter of intent to compete in Division I track and field at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. He was a two-time state qualifier in shot put and discus and is the first thrower from Saint Viator to play at the Division I level.
“He’s the whole package,” said head track coach Rodero Warren. “He’s passionate, disciplined and coachable. He listens and then turns around and helps others.”
Athan drew interest from other schools, including the University of Oregon, but he chose Abilene Christian for its faith-based education and as he put it, “southern hospitality.”
“They just graduated a whole class of throwers,” he said, “and the coach trusted that I could fill that role.”