- November 18, 2020
It’s been a year of firsts for the Windermere athletic program, but fewer have meant more than the school’s first early signing day class.
In the school’s auditorium Thursday, Nov. 15, nine athletes from across four different sports made their college choices official in front of a small — yet excited — crowd.
“They’re great to watch, entertaining and great role models for the rest of the school,” Athletic Director Mike Grenci said. “Second group I’d like to thank is their fellow athletes. You don’t look good on the field or on the court without the support of your teammates pushing each other and working together as a team.
“And of course we have to thank families — moms, dads and friends — we know how much time and effort and money a lot of you put into helping them get to this next level,” he said. “Thank you.”
Following his short speech, it was the time these nine athletes have been waiting for since the recruiting process started months — and even years — back: The signing of their national letter of intent.
The simple act of putting pen to paper is a freeing thing, said Wolverines basketball player Dakota Rivers, who will be playing at Florida Gulf Coast next year.
“I feel good and I feel stress-free — everything is off my shoulders,” Rivers said. “I’m just so happy to go to college next year and make an impact for my team.”
The choice for Rivers in his selection of FGCU was simple. It was close to family, and it worked out that the assistant coach who offered the future Eagles small forward a scholarship is now the program’s head man.
“It just made everything better — it just happened so perfectly, it’s all a blessing,” Rivers said.
Joining Rivers at the collegiate level is friend and teammate Carter Zavada, who will be traveling a bit farther north to Gettysburg College to play for the Division III Bullets.
For Zavada, the recruiting process started his sophomore year, and it was full of ups and downs, he said.
“I’m feeling super surreal, and I can’t believe this is finally happening,” Zavada said. “All the work I have put in is finally paying off, and this is the day that it’s culminated, and I’m super excited about the next chapter.”
Like all the coaches who had athletes sign Thursday, head basketball coach Mark Griseck was excited to have multiple kids get the opportunity to play at the next level.
“It’s great in the fact that in our first graduating class, we were able to have student-athletes who were good enough to play collegiately somewhere,” Griseck said. “It’s a tribute to them, and it’s a big deal for our program, because it’s hopefully the start of something.”
Although basketball had a big day, no other team came close to the school’s baseball team number-wise. The Wolverines had five members sign to play at the collegiate level.
Windermere has multiple athletes going to play at the DII level, while Bryce Hubbart (FSU) and Noah Janney (Troy University) look to make a name for themselves in DI ball.
“I’m just looking forward to getting out there, meet everyone I haven’t met and just go try to do some big things and get some wins,” Janney said.