Five West Hempstead High School senior athletes revealed Wednesday what jerseys they'll be wearing in the fall when they head off to college.
Rams varsity running back Tayvon Hall, 17, of West Hempstead, signed a letter of intent on National Signing Day to play football for the University of Maine.
"On this college search, I wanted to find a university I was comfortable at and when I first got on [Maine's] campus, I felt like I fit in there," Hall told Patch.
Maine's football program was ranked 13th in the country two years ago and fourth in its conference last year, Hall explained, adding, "With the recruiting class we have coming in, I think we can fight for top place in our conference."
Defensive tackle Daniel Njoku, 17, will be suiting up for the Marist College Red Foxes.
"Marist sort of chose me," he told Patch. "They invited me down for a workout ... they found something special in me and continued to recruit me."
In addition to Marist's football program, Njoku, who is considering majoring in Human Biology, was also impressed with the school's academics,. "It was kind of an easy decision," he says.
Seventeen-year-old twin brothers Cadeem and Kareem Harris, who both played three years on West Hempstead's varsity soccer team, chose Siena College as the place to continue their education and athletic careers.
After being recruited by a number of colleges, Cadeem said he chose Siena because during his visit to the campus, he "felt the team was really close to each another, the coach really cared and the entire school was behind the soccer team."
"We each had our own things we needed in a school before we chose it," Kareem explained. "It just turned out Siena was a good fit for both of us."
Kareem, who intends to major in marketing, had been looking for a small school where the coaching staff was dedicated to their players. He added, "I also wanted to find a school I could see myself playing at or not playing at if something went wrong," an injury for instance.
West Hempstead varsity soccer player Courtney Sills, 17, an Island Park resident still displaced from her home by superstorm Sandy, signed with the University of Scranton Royals.
"'It was a very hard decision," said Sills, whose No. 1 choice had been Ithaca. But after visiting both colleges, she says, "at Scranton, I felt like I was more at home."
Although a torn ACL sidelined Sills during her sophomore and junior seasons, she told Patch she is now fully recovered and looking forward to playing soccer and making new friends in college. She's planning to major in sports marketing and minor in sports psychology.
All five athletes praised the small, tight-knit West Hempstead School District community of coaches, teachers, staff and students for giving them the support they needed to succeed.
"I'm from Island Park, so coming here I was really nervous, afraid and didn't know what I was getting into," Sills says, "but everyone was really welcoming, very sweet and nice, and everyone wanted to help."
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