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Pens down: Student athletes take next step

Photos+by+Morgan+Shelton
Photos by Morgan Shelton

Photos by Morgan Shelton

Photos by Morgan Shelton

Chloe Aikman, Staff Writer

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Ten seniors signed athletic scholarships to schools all over the country as they were seated in front of teammates, friends and family on Nov. 8 in the media center. 

Surrounded by black and gold balloons, some commented that it was a good day when the PHS banner was shorter than the table of celebrated athletes. Nametags, college hats and school flags perched in front of them, each student was introduced by his/her coach as they were congratulated for their achievements. 

“Watching these kids grow up, and the things that they go through, and seeing them get to this day, at this table – I’m proud,” baseball Coach Dennis Braun, the first coach to speak, said. 

As the ceremony went on, athletes and parents would remember this as an occasion of gratitude and thanks. 

“I want to thank my dad for all the countless hours he’s put in,” baseball player Chase Sanguinetti said.  

Sanguinetti will be signing with Florida State. Seated beside him, Brock Flagler will be playing baseball for the State College of the Manatee, and was recognized for his ability and command of four pitches. 

“I want to thank coach Braun for always getting on me every day at practice, keeping me straight, doing the right things,” Flagler said. 

The last baseball player to sign, Connor Scott is excited for his future at the University of Florida. 

“I’d like to thank my teammates first, through the good and bad games, for always sticking around with me,” Scott said. 

Representing the golf team, coached by Tom Feeney, Jackson Suber will be going to the University of Mississippi and is accredited with helping guide his team to their 2016 state championship – the first time they’ve competed in 80 years. 

“I’d like to thank my parents, they’ve supported me so much through the process, taking me places all over the country to play golf and get better,” Suber said. 

Boys Lacrosse team Coach Todd Francis was eager to present Alex Alonso, signee for Queens University of Charlotte. 

”I couldn’t ask for better parents or a better brother,” Alonso said. “If lacrosse has taught me anything – it’s a team sport and so is life.” 

New to Plant this year, Coach Vanja Todorovic introduced Bailey Wilson, who will be signing with the University of Central Florida. Her former coach, Margeaux Sinibaldi, made an appearance in support. 

“I came to plant sophomore year joining the varsity team and ever since my first practice, [they] not only became my team, but became my second family,” Wilson said. 

Further along the table, Coach Tina O’Neal introduced softball player Grace Hastings-Wydetic, appearing near tears at the end. 

“I want to start with thanking my parents and my family for always supporting me….and all the coaches I’ve ever had: travel teams, little league, high school, you’ve all been so supportive – and without you, I wouldn’t be here signing today,” Hastings-Wydetic said. 

The final three athletes of the ten all represent the swim team, under Coach Gil Gonzalez. Abby Shapiro has been in the swimming lineup since she was a freshman and will continue to at Drew University. 

“I’d just like to thank my family, my friends, and my coaches. Thanks guys,” Shapiro said. 

Next was Sidney Whitfield, fondly nicknamed ‘Big Sid,” who will be signing at James Madison University. 

“I’d like to thank my coach, and my teammates, and my family  –  and I can’t wait to be a Duke Dog,” Whitfield said. 

The final athlete, Morgan Tankersly, is one of the most decorated swimmers in the state of Florida and has received much national recognition as well. 

“I’m looking forward to finishing this year strong and opening up the next chapter,” Tankersly said.  

Her ‘next chapter’ will be at the prestigious Stanford University. 

After all athletes had made their statements, they signed their scholarships, and the floor was opened up for parents. They rushed to their children with their cameras, taking pictures and celebrating this pivotal moment in their sons’ and daughters’ academic and athletic careers.

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Pens down: Student athletes take next step