Bright future for Eldred athletes

By ANNEMARIE SCHUETZ
Posted 5/18/22

ELDRED, NY — Four Eldred scholar-athletes signed letters of intent on May 12 to play for their colleges of choice, under the proud gaze of athletic coordinator Gerard Gass.

Lady Yellowjacket …

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Bright future for Eldred athletes

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ELDRED, NY — Four Eldred scholar-athletes signed letters of intent on May 12 to play for their colleges of choice, under the proud gaze of athletic coordinator Gerard Gass.

Lady Yellowjacket Lily Gonzalez is heading to SUNY Delhi in the fall, and plans to major in physical education. She’ll play softball.

What does this mean for her? “It matters a lot,” she said. “I’ve been playing softball since I was four.”

Under the watch of Delhi’s head coach, Meagan Stone, the team transitioned to NCAA Division III and the North Atlantic Conference.

Dana Donnelly is heading for Mount St. Mary’s College, where she’ll also play softball. She will major in education. Eldred “prepped me to go to college,” she said. “I’m going to miss my teammates but am excited for what lies ahead.”

The team is helmed by head coach Samantha Howe, who led the Knights to a 54-50-1 overall record. The team made it to the Skyline Conference Championship Round in 2019 and then to a 17-12 record in 2021. 

Jaelyn Labuda is also going to Mount St. Mary's. She’ll play soccer, and plans on studying nursing. “I’ve played soccer since I was three years old,” she said. “I’m really excited to compete at the college level.”

The team, under head coach Chris Lyn, has a 46-29-5 overall record and appeared at the Skyline Conference Championship Tournament four times, making the Skyline Championship Final three times. He was named coach of the year by the conference in 2017. 

Kaitlyn Potter will head off to Elmira College for women’s wrestling, and is planning on a criminal justice major.

“Women’s wrestling is such a new sport,” she said. “I can’t wait to be part of that team.”

The Elmira team has only been in existence for two years. Cody Griswold is the head coach for both men’s and women’s wrestling, and he’s been tasked with building the new program. “I can’t wait to see her soar in the wrestling program,” he said.

Scholarship programs make a difference

Letters of intent generally mean the student will attend the college in exchange for an athletic scholarship.

The Eldred signing, and others like it, highlight what these scholarships—and academic ones—mean for some students.

Matt Frey, director of media relations at Mount St. Mary and a Mount graduate, received a scholarship himself. “Without it, I would not have been able to achieve my academic aspirations at the college. I owe much of my success as an adult to that scholarship,” he said.

“Some of our students have to choose between buying food, paying rent, paying for utilities, and paying for school—an impossible decision for anyone, let alone a 20-year-old who is working hard for a better future,” said Nikki Khurana-Baugh, vice president for advancement at the Mount. “Scholarships are critical for our students.”

The meaning of sports

It’s not just about college-level accolades and the cheers in the stands. “For us,” said Griswold, “athletics provides theory and practice beyond the classroom, and helps our students become global citizens and leaders prepared for a lifetime of careers and personal growth. Being part of a team gives students opportunities to cultivate and enhance their communication, leadership and critical thinking skills.”

And for the students?

The young women sound prepared and excited as they head into the future. Said Lily Gonzalez, “All the hard work has paid off.”

Edited to correct that Dana Donnelly and Jaelyn Labuda will attend Mount St. Mary College next year. 

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