One by one, State College’s athletes filed into a room above the athletic office to be recognized Wednesday.
They announced their college choices and majors on National Signing Day with parents and coaches there to celebrate their future plans.
The group of nearly 30 athletes will be competing at Division I, II and III programs. Six athletes are committed to Division I schools after being recruited and going on visits to weigh their options. Taylor Campbell-Phipps has signed with the Penn State women’s soccer program, and Megan Fry is going to Penn State for track and field.
Campbell-Phipps, a defender, played at State College for two years and helped the Lady Little Lions win two District 6 Class AAA championships.
“I chose Penn State because it was the perfect combination of academic rigor and a great athletic program,” Campbell-Phipps said in a Penn State release. Campbell-Phipps was not at the State College ceremony.
Fry will compete in the pole vault at Penn State. She said she also considered Villanova and Virginia.
“It was pretty exciting,” Fry said. “It’s kind of exciting to see like the different places that I could have gone but Penn State was the best choice, so it’s exciting to say I’m committed there now.”
Fry said staying home made Penn State an attractive option.
Fry finished second in the pole vault in the District 6 Class AAA Championships and tied for ninth in the event at the PIAA Championships last year. She took first in the pole vault by clearing 11 feet, 6 inches at the Kevin Dare Invitational at Penn State just more than a week ago.
And she’s looking forward to joining the Nittany Lion program.
“They have really good vaulters there, so I’m really excited to be working with them,” Fry said.
Kirsten Hillsley is heading to Duquesne for swimming.
“Swimming for State High has been the best four years of my high school career, the best part of it,” Hillsley said. “So I’m really excited to continue it in college.”
Hillsley won the 100 breastroke at the District 6 Class AAA Championships and finished 17th at the PIAA Championships in the event in 2014. She was a member of the 200 medley relay team that took sixth in the state.
She knew Duquesne was the right fit after spending time with the coaching staff and team. She plans to become a physician assistant.
“I fell in love with the sport last year,” Hillsley said. “Then I knew I wanted to swim in college and I knew I liked medicine and Duquesne just had the perfect combination of what I wanted to do and swimming.”
Paige Meily will be playing field hockey at the University of Pennsylvania.
“When I first started considering Penn, I was like no way I’m going to go to a city,” Meily said. “I was so against it. My parents said I should visit anyway and I went on a visit just by myself to tour the campus and I actually really liked it because I didn’t feel like I was in the city.”
Meily said she chose the school for its academics and plans to major in math. Meily was an all-state second team selection in 2014.
She looked at Lafayette College but Penn became her top choice after going on an unofficial visit.
“The team was just very welcoming,” Meily said. “And at that point, I had a very good idea that was where I wanted to go.”
Renee Olivett thought she’d be playing lacrosse at a Division III school before La Salle contacted her last June.
“I hadn’t been considering Division I because it was kind of later in that process,” Olivett said. “I didn’t start playing lacrosse until I was a little bit older.”
Olivett, a midfielder, has scored 50 goals and recorded 13 assists in three years for State College. She caught La Salle’s attention after playing at a tournament during the summer.
Within two weeks of hearing from La Salle, Olivett committed to the Explorers. She made it official Wednesday.
“It feels awesome,” Olivett said. “I’ve been waiting for this moment to finally be able to say I’m definitely going there.”
Caleb Walls always dreamed of playing baseball in the South.
He signed with George Mason, located in Fairfax, Va.
“Being from the North and dealing with the cold all the time, it’s nice to get in a warmer climate,” Walls said. “And they just switched into the Atlantic 10 and they won the championship in their first year, so we’ll have a chance to win the title every year.”
Walls was a first-team Mid Penn Conference Commonwealth division selection last year. He helped the Little Lions capture the division title and District 6 championship in 2014.
Walls said he looked at Penn State and George Washington in addition to George Mason.
“They plan for me to be in center field,” Walls said. “Their current center fielder’s going to graduate this year, so I hope to go in and make an impact on the team as a freshman.”
Other State College athletes recognized Wednesday include: Kendall Loviscky (IUP, women’s lacrosse); Olivia Stahl (Smith College, women’s lacrosse); Brady Franks (Widener, men’s lacrosse); Sydney McNulty (Geneva College, women’s volleyball); Tara Neidigh (Juniata College, women’s volleyball); Makenzie Sullivan (Lock Haven, women’s volleyball; Aiko Dzikowski (Smith College, field hockey); Jalyn Shelton-Burleigh (Lock Haven, women’s basketball); Jessica Henderson (Misericordia, softball); Lonnie Koudela (Bloomsburg, football); Barrett McMurtry (Shippensburg, football; John Weakland (Shippensburg, football); Charlie Riley (Susquehanna, football); Matt Harpster (Thiel, football); Connor Pighetti (Thiel, football); Mac Schailey (Widener or NYU, men’s soccer); TD Hunter (Lock Haven, men’s soccer); Oliver Dailey (Penn State Altoona, baseball), Kyle Peterson (Millersville, baseball); Harrison Walls (College of Wooster, baseball); Michael Caswell (Penn State Altoona, men’s basketball); Kahsim Buey, a transfer from Williamsport (Lock Haven, football). Buey played at St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy in 2013.