Five Athletes Sign to Play Sports in College
Posted 11/21/2016 11:49AM

All across the nation during the first couple weeks of November, the country was in a frenzy. No, it wasn’t because of this year’s controversial presidential election. Instead, it was because colleges were competing to recruit a strong new crop of student athletes.

Five of these will come from The Lovett School. Serena Tripodi, Peyton Bogard, Emma Sidman, Abby Fenbert, and Everett Smulders signed during the annual period of college commitment that comes along with National Signing Day.

Cross-country co-captain Emma Sidman signed with The University of Alabama to run cross-country and track next year. During her high school career, Emma was All-State twice for cross-country, and All-State twice for track in each of her four different events.  She verbally committed the week after fall break, officially announcing her decision during Lovett’s Homecoming pep rally.

Emma was also considering The University of Miami and Washington & Lee University, but ultimately loved ‘Bama the most. “I fell in love with the campus because of how incredibly beautiful it is,” she says. “The athletic facilities are one-of-a-kind.” Emma also notes that her relationship with the coach was a big reason she loved ‘Bama so much, as she could “definitely see [herself] excelling under him.”

Understandably, Emma admits that the transition from high school running to college running will be a big one. “I think it’ll be tough at first because I’m going from training once a day to training 2-3 times a day,” she says. “Also, the competition is obviously going to be a lot tougher.”

Emma has wanted to run in college ever since she first stepped on the track in sixth grade. Congrats to Emma! Her dream has become a reality.

Fellow cross-country captain Serena Tripodi also signed with Emma, choosing to take her talents to Columbia University over schools like Brown, Georgetown, and Boston College. During her high school career, she was a 3x individual cross-country state champion, and a 5x time individual track state champion in two different events (excluding 4 other team titles). She is also ranked in the top-50 senior runners nationally. To say the least, the (Lovett) Lions will dearly miss her and the (Columbia) Lions should be very excited to have her.

As Columbia is located in the heart of Upper Manhattan, Serena is understandably very excited to attend college in such an awesome city: “I really loved the vibrancy of the city and the beauty of Columbia’s campus.” While she notes the campus and her future teammates as major keys to her decision, the academics also played a huge role. “The core curriculum system at Columbia will give me a lot of academic structure since I am undecided on my major concentration,” she says.

Unlike her fellow National Signing Day committees, Serena seems pretty confident in an athletic transition into college. “I think the transition will be pretty smooth because the Lovett coaches have prepared us so well,” she says. “They make sure that I train year-round, which will really help a lot.” She also notes that college will help her with time management.

Ultimately, Serena admits that the best part about running is the life lessons that it teaches you. It’s an individual sport that requires teamwork, so Serena believes that this combination of motivation and selflessness will really help her in the work force.

Serena has found a lot of success on the trail and track at Lovett, and it is inevitable that she will reciprocate this in the Big Apple. Good luck and congrats, Serena!

Lacrosse stud Peyton Bogard signed with the University of Maryland on National Signing Day over schools such as Syracuse, Cornell, Michigan, Colgate, and Harvard. He was a two-time Under Armour All-American during high school, ranking as a 4-star recruit and the #17 defensive pole in the country. Peyton verbally committed August of his sophomore year, so he was understandably very excited to officially become a Terp.

From the very first time he stepped on campus, Peyton knew Maryland would be a great fit for him. He particularly denotes the beautiful campus, head coach and defensive coach, and the current players as prime reasons for his choice of commitment. To Peyton and recruits across the country, Head Coach John Tillman is “one of the best and nicest coaches in college lacrosse.” Maryland’s lacrosse team boasts of one of the top defenses in the country and was the National Runner-Up in the NCAA Championship Tournament this past year.

Peyton admits that the transition from high school to college lacrosse will be “brutal.” Even though Peyton endures serious conditioning and training year-round, the level of lacrosse in college is much more intense than high school. “I know it will be a struggle to get up to speed as a freshmen,” he says, “but I am looking forward to the challenge.”

Peyton has wanted to play lacrosse in college ever since the seventh grade. He says, “lacrosse has done so much for me throughout my childhood and I don't want it to end.” Personally, I know Peyton has worked so hard towards his lacrosse success. No one deserves it more… congrats, Peyton!

Lovett softball phenom Abby Fenbert signed with the University of Rhode Island (URI) during the National Signing period. After decommitting from Furman this past summer, suitors such as the University of Rhode Island and Marist College looked to gain her interest. Ultimately, it was the URI Rams’ charge that prevailed.

From the very first time she stepped on campus, Abby knew URI was the place for her. The incredibly genuine people and uniquely beautiful campus were major selling points, enticing her to commit this past August. According to Abby, “URI was the perfect size for me, and the softball program and I share the same goal: winning an A10 Conference Championship.”

Abby notes that the transition from high school softball to college softball is all about time management. “The in-season schedule for college student-athletes is hectic, and academic success really depends on how well you can balance everything,” she says. While academic adjustments will certainly be tough, the athletic transition is also a large one. “I will be playing and practicing more than ever before...” she says, “...which will be really exciting because I can't wait to see how much better I can get.”

To Abby, softball has been a part of who she is since she was 7 years old. Softball has taught her how to deal with adversity and she has developed some of her best friendships through her different teams over the years. Congrats, Abby!

Boys cross country co-captain Everett Smulders verbally committed to the University of Mississippi on October 26th, and signed on National Signing Day. He was All-State during his senior year of cross country, and won the 2016 track State Championship in two different events during his junior year. Everett was a huge contributor to Lovett’s cross country leadership and success, and will look to reciprocate this contribution at Ole Miss.

When it came to potential college suitors, Everett was interested in schools such as Miami, South Carolina, Princeton, and Auburn. Ultimately, though, the Rebels won out. “Everything about Ole Miss seemed really fitting,” he says. “I loved the school culture, the incredibly nice coach, and how successful the program has been recently.” Next year, Everett will be contributing to an Ole Miss boys team that is currently ranked 11th in the country (via USTFCCCA Coaches' poll).

At Lovett, Everett is known as a hard worker in any sport he plays. Thus, he believes that the transition will be fine in terms of workload, but will be tough in terms of potential success. “The runs will get longer, and they will tire me out much more, but I do not think that my lifestyle will have any major adjustments,” he says. “One of the big differences, however, is that I am going to be closer to the bottom of most of my competitors.” In a field of nationally ranked runners, Everett will undoubtedly have to work harder than ever before to be at the top.

To Everett, competition is what makes running so great. He is relatively new to running, so his prior love for competition in football and basketball has helped him to succeed in varsity track and cross country. He wants to run in college because he “loves competing more than anything else in the world.” Knowing Everett, I am sure that he will succeed at the next level. Congrats, Everett!

I sat down with Lovett’s Athletic Director, Steve Franks, to see what he thinks of these student-athletes as they look forward to sports at the college level. Understandably, he is very proud of these five kids: “To continue in athletics at the college level… it says a lot about our program as a school, and a lot about how much work and passion these individuals have put into their sports. I am very, very proud of them.”

Coach Franks referenced Lovett athletes from the past few years and their success at the college level as proof that these 2016 recruits will succeed. Allie Lourie (Samford) and Grace Jackson (Vanderbilt) have both contributed very heavily to their soccer teams. Allie was named Southern Conference Freshman of the Year and Grace was named to the Freshmen All-SEC First Team. In football, Willie Candler (West Georgia) and Grant Haley (Penn State) have also shined brightly. Willie has been twice named Freshman of the Week in the Gulf Coast Conference, while Grant helped PSU defeat #2 Ohio State with a blocked field goal return for a touchdown.

Considering the success of past Lovett athletes at the college level, Coach Franks is sure that Serena, Emma, Everett, Abby, and Peyton will stand out next year. Congratulations and good luck to some of Lovett’s finest student-athletes!

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