Seniors signed their letters of intent to continue their academic and athletic careers.
Seniors signed their letters of intent to continue their academic and athletic careers.

Seniors sign their letters of intent

At high schools all across America, students fill teams in a variety of sports. A vast majority of them finish their playing careers at the end of senior year. A small minority of them get to move on and compete at the collegiate level. On Wednesday, Baldwin honored nine student athletes who were a part of national signing day.
Senior Mikalah Beardsley signs to Washington & Jefferson College to play soccer.
Beardsley knew W&J would be her place for soccer

From the time senior soccer player Mikalah Beardsley heard about Washington & Jefferson College through the two times she visited over the summer, she knew no other school could compete with her love for the academics and athletics at this college. 

“The main thing that stood out to me was being able to see myself being successful there. No other college made me feel like I would succeed except W&J,” she said. 

During the application process, Beardsley was certain this was the perfect school for her. She applied under a binding commitment to the school, if she were to be accepted.

“W&J was the only college that I applied to and I found out I was accepted the Friday before the school year started. I committed to W&J that night,” she said. 

Beardsley said that when she started playing soccer at the age of 3, she discovered that she truly loved it. Looking back at soccer memories from over the years, she said one of her favorite moments was winning a futsal tournament with her sister, which “is a cherished memory I will always have.” 

She knew she had to keep that feeling and security that comes with being on a team with her throughout college. 

“What truly deepened my love for the sport was the combination of its competitive nature, emphasis on teamwork, and the sense of community that soccer fosters,” she said. “And that’s what made me decide to continue to play in college. I realized I did not want to give up that part of my life yet.”

Senior Mikalah Beardsley signs to Washington & Jefferson College to play soccer.
Senior Connor Brenneman signs to Westminster College to play soccer.
Westminster soccer embodies Brenneman’s values

For senior Connor Brenneman, the sport of soccer isn’t just an enjoyable hobby, but a catalyst for personal development.

“Soccer has been the sport I’ve grown up with. It’s helped me grow as a person, and it showed me the meaning of hard work and dedication,” Brenneman said.

Now, 15 years into his soccer career, Brenneman is committed to playing soccer at Westminster College for the next four years. It’s a rewarding feeling, since Brenneman has worked his whole life for this opportunity.

“It feels great knowing that I have worked hard for a long time to achieve this goal and I have finally achieved it,” Brenneman said.

To Brenneman, Westminster’s team embodies everything that he has come to value after so many years with the sport.

“I chose to continue my career at Westminster because they are a team that does consistently well when they play. They also value hard work and dedication to the sport, and I feel I work hard and am dedicated to soccer,” Brenneman said.

Brenneman credits his family with introducing him to soccer and being his greatest support throughout his entire career.

“My family was there giving me advice and supporting me during the recruitment, and really during the entirety of my soccer journey,” Brenneman said.

As Brenneman looks back on his soccer career, he believes that his time playing for Baldwin was the most memorable.

“The most memorable moment in my soccer journey is starting and lettering all four years while playing for Baldwin,” Brenneman said.

Now, Brenneman offers advice to those who also wish to play at the collegiate level.

“I would say work hard and never give up. Never let adversity get in the way of your aspirations to play collegiate soccer,” Brenneman said.

Senior Connor Brenneman signs to Westminster College to play soccer.
Senior Kenzie Hirt signs to Saint Francis University for cross country and track.
Hirt has been running toward Saint Francis for years

Ever since competing at track and field WPIALs during her freshman year, senior Mackenzie Hirt has wanted to pursue a running career at Saint Francis University. 

“I have always had Saint Francis in the back of my mind as a school I wanted to run at since the end of freshman year, after I saw some of the girls who went to track nationals committed there that year as well,” Hirt, who is also a Purbalite news editor, said.

Hirt’s running career began at a young age when she started running road races with her father. She’s been running cross country and track since eighth grade. 

“I started running because my dad wanted to get me into a good hobby and thought I was fast enough to be decent at it,” Hirt said. 

Throughout the whole commitment process, the support from her family and the staff at Saint Francis has enabled her to feel confident in her decision. 

“Immediately after talking to the coach and anyone else there, I felt extremely welcomed and like I was already a part of their family,” Hirt said. “The biochemistry professor introduced me to many different opportunities that would arise for me at this school, and as it was an athletic fit, I knew academically it was perfect as well.”

Her parents played a key role as well.

“My parents were amazing throughout the recruitment process,” she said. “We had a few other schools on the radar, but my parents did not love any of them as much as they loved and could see me running at SFU.”

Senior Kenzie Hirt signs to Saint Francis University for cross country and track.
Senior Emma Lieu signs to West Liberty University to play soccer.
Lieu has found a home with West Liberty soccer

When Senior Emma Lieu is on the soccer field, she forgets about any other worries and is able to escape in the game. Now, she will be continuing her career in college. 

When I am playing, I almost forget about everything else. It is like for an hour and a half, it’s just my teammates and I playing the game,” she said. 

Lieu will be attending West Liberty University and will be playing for their soccer team. Lieu said West Liberty is not only an athletic fit for her, but was a perfect match academically as well. 

“Academics was more important than anything that was offered to me athletically. WLU offers a direct physician assistant program. Also, when I went and visited the campus, it just felt right,” Lieu said. 

Although it wasn’t the defining factor for which school Lieu chose, she said playing college soccer was the ultimate goal. So when it came to signing the letter of intent, Lieu knew she had reached her goal.

“There are a lot of great moments, but signing the official paper committing to playing in college is definitely up there,” Lieu said. 

Lieu said could not have gone this far in her soccer career or even think about continuing into college without her support system.

“My family has been nothing but supportive when it came to making my decision,” she said. “My club coach (Kelly Mehalko) is absolutely amazing and has helped me throughout everything, especially in getting me to where I am today.” 

Senior Emma Lieu signs to West Liberty University to play soccer.
Senior Katie Lucarelli signs to West Liberty University to play basketball.
Lucarelli to join sister at West Liberty

Basketball was not the only influence in senior Katie Lucarelli’s decision to attend West Liberty. Her older sister, Anna Lucarelli, attends West Liberty, and that played a big role as well.

“I am really excited to be playing with my sister,” she said. “I think we will work really well together, and she will instantly get me ready for the team.”

Lucarelli doesn’t know what she is majoring in yet but hopes she will be able to balance sports and school.

“I have been able to keep up with school work all through high school,” she said. “But I know college will be a challenge, and I know I am ready for it.”

While excited about taking a big step in her basketball career, she also will miss the memories she has made in high school.

“It will be tough leaving all my underclassmen,” she said. “I hope I was a good leader for them and left a good impact on them.

Lucarelli has been playing basketball for as long as she can remember and said she fell in love with it from the very beginning.

“Watching my sisters growing up really had me involved with the sport early on,” she said. Her sisters and her parents “are the reason I am where I am today.”

Her parents have been at every game her whole life and she credits them for all her successes.

“I want to thank my parents for always being by my side for every step,” she said. “If they weren’t there for me, I think I would have never made it as far as I have.”

Senior Katie Lucarelli signs to West Liberty University to play basketball.
Senior Alexa Meyer signs to Gannon University to play soccer.
Meyer to keep soccer in her life at Gannon

Senior Alexa Meyer decided it wasn’t time for her to let go of sports in her life after high school finishes up this year. She will be continuing her soccer career into college at Gannon University.

“I want to continue to play because I have learned so many lessons and skills over time, and I wasn’t ready to give up this part of my life yet,” she said. 

While playing soccer at Gannon will be important, her education at the school played the main role in her decision to commit there.  

“I chose Gannon because they have a very good medical program and a very talented team. This would let me go the physician’s assistant route,” Meyer said.  

While soccer has been something she has loved since the age of 5, the game has been something bigger than just a sport in the senior’s eyes. 

“I love soccer because it is able to bring people all around close together and helps to teach you life lessons that can continue even outside of my soccer career,” she said. 

Even though Meyer has worked hard for her own success, she appreciates the help she has had along the way in her soccer career. 

“I want to thank my family for helping to keep me in the sport and supporting my goals, and all of my coaches throughout my years of playing who helped me be the player I am today,” Meyer said.

Senior Alexa Meyer signs to Gannon University to play soccer.
Senior Keith Mincin signs to Mercyhurst University for wrestling.
Mincin heads to Mercyhurst to wrestle at next level

For some high school athletes, their sport is more of a hobby. Senior Keith Mincin’s story is a bit different, as he has taken his passion for wrestling to another level throughout his high school career. 

At a young age, Mincin was influenced by his dad to try the sport. 

“He really wanted me to try it out, so I did and I loved it,” Mincin said. 

He hasn’t looked back and has wrestled every winter for the past 11 years. 

As his high school career is coming to an end, Mincin plans to attend Mercyhurst University to continue both his academic and athletic career. Because of that, this Baldwin season meant a lot more to him. 

“I started taking it way more seriously and really locked in for senior year once I made my commitment to wrestle at the next level,” Mincin said. 

Beyond his love for the sport, Mincin has put in a lot of work to keep up with the competition. He practices five days a week for Baldwin and also has club practice five days a week. 

His quick and offensive-minded style of wrestling has led him to a 91-22 overall record in high school. With the end of high school wrestling season sneaking up, the senior hopes to reach his goal of 100 career wins by the time WPIALs comes around. 

“I want to be a section champ and a state qualifier,” he said. “I also want to make it onto the podium at states,” he said.

Senior Keith Mincin signs to Mercyhurst University for wrestling.
Senior Gabi Moder signs to the University of Pitt Greensburg to play tennis.
Moder to serve up more tennis at Pitt Greensburg

To senior Gabi Moder, playing tennis is not all about winning and losing, but a way to build relationships with others around her.

“I want to play tennis in college so I can continue being a part of a team and playing in matches,” she said.

Moder will be attending Pitt Greensburg for pre-occupational therapy and hopes to continue to work hard and stay at the top of her game in college matches.

“My goal for college tennis is to go in with a good mindset,” she said. “I hope to work on my mental aspect of the game and stay positive during the matches.”

Moder started playing at only 6 years old and stuck with it all the way. 

Despite moving up to college athletics, where she will compete with top-level athletes, Moder will miss all the memories and moments of high school.

“I will miss seeing my friends at practice every day and the bus rides to all the away matches.” she said.

Moder competed in the WPIAL singles and doubles playoffs for Baldwin the past two years, and she hopes it prepares her for the next level.

“This will help me mentally and physically in college,” she said. “I have already had the opportunity to play against more experienced players in a very competitive environment.”

Moder was thankful for everyone in her life who helped her get to this moment.

“I want to thank my high school coaches and family members,” she said.

Senior Gabi Moder signs to the University of Pitt Greensburg to play tennis.
Senior Anna Schumacher signs to Carlow University to play softball.
Like her aunt, Schumacher heads to Carlow for softball

Senior Anna Schumacher will be pursuing two of her passions at Carlow University: nursing and softball.

“My education is my priority, and they have a great nursing program,” Schumacher said. 

As for softball, Schumacher began playing when she was 6 because her family was involved in the sport. 

“My mom and all of my aunts played, so it was only natural for me to be introduced to the sport. I ended up loving it, just like they did,” Schumacher said. 

Schumacher said her aunt also attended Carlow and played softball, so her interest was piqued. 

“I reached out to the coach, and he was interested after seeing my highlights and attending my games. After touring the school, I realized that it was going to be the best fit for me,” Schumacher said.

Schumacher is the pitcher for the girls softball team and has experienced success on the field, especially in her junior season.

“The most exciting for me was when I hit my 100th strikeout for the season last year,” Schumacher said. 

Throughout her commitment process, the support from Schumacher’s family has enabled her to feel confident and hopeful for the future. 

“My mom has been the biggest support, and she guided me through the whole process,” Schumacher said. “However, I also have a huge family that has also been very supportive of my decision.”

Senior Anna Schumacher signs to Carlow University to play softball.
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