GREENWICH — Each scholastic sports season seems to be flying by, which means soon it will be time for a group of student athletes in each school to bid farewell to high school and embark on their next chapter.
Before that transpires, Sacred Heart Greenwich knew it was time to slow things down a bit and honor the athletes who have flourished at their school.
There was no shortage of talent in Sacred Heart’s athletic center Tuesday morning, as a group of eight senior student athletes gathered at a ceremony recognizing their commitment to compete in their respective sport at the collegiate level.
Lacrosse players, field hockey stars, swimmers, rowers — there were athletes for all seasons at Sacred Heart’s special ceremony on Tuesday morning.
Three Tigers lacrosse players — Ryan Smith, Athena Corroon and Hilary Hoover — will continue their athletic careers in college. Two field hockey standouts — Ellie Manriquez and Olivia Batal — are taking their skills to the collegiate level, as are swimmers Catherine Hamilton and Katelin Ulmer.
Julianna Collins, a member of Sacred Heart’s rowing team, will also bring her talents to college.
Manriquez and Batal recently played on a Sacred Heart field hockey squad that won the FAA Tournament championship for the second straight season and advanced to the semifinal-round of the NEPSAC Tournament.
A four-time All-FAA Team and four-time Western New England All-Star, Manriquez will join the field hockey team at Princeton University next fall.
“I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to go to Princeton,” said Manriquez, a high-scoring forward on Sacred Heart’s squad, which won the FAA title the past two seasons. “From the start, I have been excited about playing field hockey in college and the fact that it is finally solidified — I’m ecstatic about that.”
Selected as a member of the FAA’s All-Tournament Team this past season, Manriquez played a pivotal role in the Tigers’ emergence as a premier squad.
“Being a part of our field hockey program has definitely been a unique experience,” Manriquez said. “From a developing team to seeing the results of the hard work we put in — it’s been a great experience. The past two FAA championships have been more satisfying than I could have ever imagined.
Manriquez will join another Tigers field hockey team at Princeton.
“We were very lucky to have such a natural talent on our team,” Sacred Heart field hockey coaches Alex Gheorghe and Sarah Hill said in a joint statement. “Ellie has a fantastic feel for the goal, and she will score from unexpected situations. She will contribute to the team’s success at Princeton as an offensive threat against any opponent.”
Batal, a key contributor on the Tigers’ field hockey squad for three seasons, will compete at Hamilton College next year.
“I’ve grown as a player each year and I’ve seen the team grow as well, which has been exciting,” Batal said. “I’m really looking forward to playing at Hamilton. The coach and the team are great and I know I am going to be happy to be a part of that team. I love the school as well.”
Said Hill and Gheorghe: “She (Batal) is a strong player that helped the team in our toughest competitions with her remarkable work ethic. For Hamilton, we are certain she will bring a vast amount of knowledge and field hockey IQ.”
Also a member of the Tigers’ championship field hockey team, Smith will take her athletic skills to Boston College, where she will play lacrosse. An athlete for all seasons, Smith, who also plays basketball, earned All-FAA, All-Western New England Team accolades her first three seasons on the lacrosse squad and was selected as an Under Armour All-American the past two seasons. She was also an Academic All-American for the 2018 season.
Smith has enjoyed playing several sports during her athletic career.
“Playing different sports helped me become a better lacrosse player,” Smith said. “A lot of elements from other sports transfer over to lacrosse, which has helped me improve a lot.”
Sacred Heart has captured the FAA lacrosse tournament title the past two seasons, with Smith helping to lead the championship charge.
“Being here at Sacred Heart has meant the world to me,” Smith said. “If I went anywhere else I wouldn’t have had the same experience. I’ve had a chance to play with such amazing players. I’m definitely sad about leaving high school, but I’m definitely excited about pursuing my lacrosse career at Boston College.”
Tigers lacrosse coach Tara Clough has witnessed the impact Smith has had on the program.
“Ryan is a tremendous athlete and outstanding lacrosse player,” Clough said. “Blessed with humility, Ryan always puts her team first and possesses both grit and grace.”
Also a field hockey standout, Hoover will join Cornell University’s lacrosse squad. A Western New England and All-FAA All-Star last season, Hoover is one of the Tigers’ top defensive players.
“I am incredibly excited to have the opportunity to play the sport I love in college,” Hoover said. “The fact that it’s approaching so quickly is crazy, but it’s exciting at the same time.”
Hoover’s defensive work helped make Sacred Heart a tough team to score on last spring.
“With natural speed and agility, Hilary is a defensive leader on the field with great body positioning, footwork and communication skills,” Clough said.
Said Hoover: “It’s been amazing watching the program and our team grow the last few years and we are super excited to build on that success this upcoming season. After I graduate, I look forward to coming and watching the team continue to excel.”
Corroon, also a soccer star, will play lacrosse at the United States Naval Academy. She’s earned All-FAA lacrosse honors the past three seasons and like Smith and Hoover, will serve as a lacrosse captain in the spring.
“I am really excited, playing in college will be a change from high school lacrosse,” Corroon said. “I’ll have more to deal with in college, especially military life, as well as having and academics and athletics. Making sure I’m balanced is something I’ll focus on. I’m looking forward to being in a military environment at Navy.”
“Athena has a true passion for the game and is one of the most determined players on the field,” Clough said. “Her athleticism, attitude and drive will help lead her to success at the collegiate level.”
A four-year member of Sacred Heart’s crew team, Collins will bring her coxswain skills to Bucknell University in the fall.
“I rowed for two years, then I became a coxswain my junior year,” said Collins, the team’s rowing captain this past fall, who was presented with the squad’s “Heart, Hustle” award. “I always wanted to see what it was like to be a coxswain. As a coxswain, you really have to be a leader and execute the coach’s plan. I find it to be a really interesting role. It’s really different from any other sport.”
Hamilton, who swims throughout the year for Chelsea Piers Connecticut in Stamford, joined Sacred Heart’s swim team this season and has already made an impact.
Villanova University is where Hamilton will showcase her aquatic talent next year. Recently, she helped lead the Tigers to their first triumph over Loomis Chaffee School since 2009.
“I really loved the team when I met them at Villanova,” Hamilton said. “They were welcoming and fun and the school has such a great balance between academics and sports. They’re into community service and giving back to people, which I love. The program won the Big East in past years so it should be a great challenge for me to compete at a big school with so much team spirit.”
A versatile swimmer, who especially excels in the butterfly and breaststroke events, Ulmer will swim at Tufts University next season.
“I chose Tufts for academics first and swimming was a great fit for me,” said Ulmer, who is a threat to win every event she swims. “When I went there, it felt like home. I was so comfortable with the swimmers. It’s not just about swimming there — there’s a good balance between athletics and academics.”
Sacred Heart athletic director Elizabeth Dennison couldn’t be prouder to see the school’s athletes enjoy their special day.
“It’s great to see such a large group of students that are committed to play their sport at the at the next level,” Dennison said. “We are excited the work they put in here over their time at Sacred Heart both in classroom on the field shows in them having the opportunity to play at the next level.”