NEW HAVEN — It was a proud day for the Hillhouse track and field team and its coaching staff as five student-athletes signed their National Letters of Intent.
De’Janay Davis, Jalynn McCown, Jada Boyd, Ayesha Nelson and Nyimah Ambrose each officially made their collegiate commitments Wednesday at the Floyd Little Athletic Center.
Boyd and Ambrose will attend American International College in Springfield, Mass. AIC is a Division II college which competes in the Northeast-10 along with New Haven and Southern Connecticut.
“It became my dream school after the coach contacted us,” Ambrose said. “When the coach started showing interest in us, I got more interested in the school. The school has all of the majors that I have thought about, and the track team seems really kind, and it seems like Hillhouse, so I’m really excited to go with them.”
Boyd won the 400 meters at the SCC championship meet on Monday with a time of 59.30, while Ambrose won the long jump, leaping 17 feet, 6 inches.
The two future roommates were also members of the winning 4×400 meter relay team.
“I’m very excited,” said Boyd. “We went through high school together and now we get to go through our college journey together.”
Boyd will be studying physical therapy and Ambrose has not chosen a major yet, but is deciding between forensic psychology and physical therapy.
McCown will be taking her talents to the University of New Haven, where she will compete against her AIC bound teammates. McCown, also known as the “Throwing Queen”, will be studying Juvenile Delinquency.
“The criminal justice program is one of the best in the country and I knew that was what I wanted to study,” McCown said. “In addition to that, the track team has multiple elite athletes.”
McCown placed third in shot put and second in discus at Monday’s SCC championships, helping the Academics win the SCC team title.
Davis and Nelson will both be attending Highland Community College in Kansas next fall. They will also be rooming together.
Davis will major in early childhood studies and Nelson is deciding between human resources or business management.
On Monday, Davis was part of the first place 4×800 relay (along with Boyd) and the second-place 4×100 relay team.
Nelson also took home a first place medal in the SCC championships, winning the 100 meter hurdles with a time of 15.68. She placed third in the 100.
“I wanted to go somewhere where I can get better than I am now,” Nelson said. “I want to go Division One so this will give me better opportunities.”
Hillhouse has a history of greatness when it comes to track and field, but this season sticks out. Not only is the team coming off of a SCC title earlier this week, but this signing class was the largest the team has seen in more than 10 years, according to school officials.
The ceremony began with New Haven Mayor Toni Harp giving a speech recognizing the impact that girls track and field coach Gary Moore has had on the city of New Haven, using his position as a tool to help students earn scholarships.
Moore has led the team to 45 state championships in his career and has seen more than 100 of his athletes go on to compete at the collegiate level.
“This is what I coach for,” Moore said in his speech. “This is what it is really about. Getting your college education paid for through the gift that God gave you.”
As the girls began to give their speeches, the ceremony became more emotional. The girls, most of whom were battling tears, recalled their difficult moments over the years, and thanked everyone who helped them accomplish their goals.
The ceremony closed on a light note, with assistant coach Darrell Brown reminding the girls that they had practice soon after, much to their dismay.