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Multiple Teams · Nine SJA Student-Athletes Sign National Letters of Intent

Nine outstanding student-athletes from Saint Joseph Academy signed NCAA national letters of intent on Wednesday.  The nine Jaguars are:

Catherine Gallagher – Canisius College crew
Emma Gassman
 Michigan State University crew
Maddie Kimble – University of Maine softball
Maxine McGuire – Canisius College crew
Molly Miller Duquesne University crew
Mackenzie Milligan – Baldwin Wallace University softball
Isabelle Robertson – Belmont Abbey College golf
Morgan Schauer – Robert Morris University hockey
Sydnie Whitaker – Gannon University softball

Four members of the SJA crew program will be rowing next year, all at Division 1 colleges or universities.

Catherine Gallagher will be rowing next season at Canisius College.  She has raced in the finals at the Midwest Scholastic Championships for the last two seasons, earning a silver medal as a junior.  She was also the Jaguar Pride Award winner which is presented to one SJA athlete per season.

“Although Cat began rowing as a sophomore, she has been contributing to the team’s overall speed and competitiveness from day one,” said SJA Head Crew Coach Rob Zdankiewicz.  “Cat truly shines in being a fantastic teammate.  She brings a positive attitude and energy everywhere she goes and encourages all of her teammates to do the same. Cat is always the first to volunteer in any way possible, and radiates her love for rowing at all times.”

Emma Gassman will be competing next season for Michigan State University in the Big Ten Conference.  She coxed the Junior 8+ boat that finished second at nationals in the spring.  She was part of the Junior 8+ team that won first place at Midwest in 2015 and 2016 and is a three-time qualifier to the national championships.  She was named the Novice of the Year in 2014 and has been a varsity letterwinner since her sophomore season.

“Since her freshmen year, Emma’s energy and competitiveness has helped elevate the overall performance of the Crew team,” said Zdankiewicz. “It is no coincidence she has raced at the national championship regatta the past three seasons and helped earn the team’s only national championship medal. Emma’s passion and desire for perfection is contagious to the crews she works with and illustrated by their results. Emma will be an asset to any crew that is lucky enough to have her as its cox.”

Maxine McGuire will join Catherine Gallagher next season on the Canisius College crew team.  McGuire has been a two-year letterwinner and received the Top Oar award last season as a junior.  As a junior she earned a silver medal at nationals in the J8+ after finishing first at Midwest.  As a sophomore at Midwest, she was second in the 2V4+ and third in the 2V8+.

“Maxine has been a member of the Crew program since her freshmen year,” said Zdankiewicz.  “She is a “head down, work hard” type of athlete. It is no surprise she was a part of SJA’s first crew to medal at the national championship regatta and is on her way to continue that success at the collegiate level. Maxine is the embodiment of SJA Crew’s motto “we will not always be the largest team, but we will work harder than any other team”.

Molly Miller will head to Pittsburgh, PA and row at Duquesne University.  She was in the boat that placed first at Midwest her freshman, sophomore and junior seasons.  At the SRAA National Championships she placed 10th as a freshman, 6th as a sophomore and 2nd last year as a junior.  She is a two-year letterwinner for the Jaguars.

“Molly is entering her 8th semester of rowing and has been a part of many championship crews at SJA,” said Zdankiewicz.  “Her competitiveness and commitment to success has helped SJA Crew reach the top of high school rowing at the national level. From her first day it was clear that Molly holds herself to almost unattainable standards.  Over her tenure on the team she has proven time and again that she is willing to push herself and her teammates beyond what others believed possible.”

The SJA softball program was also well represented at signing day.  All three of this year’s softball seniors will continue their academic and athletic careers in college as Kimble, Milligan and Whitaker all signed their collegiate letters.

Kimble, a three-year letterwinner at SJA, has won several awards throughout her time at SJA.  This past season she earned the Defensive Player of the Year award for her stellar play at third base (fielding percentage of .933 in 104 total chances).  She ranked second on the team in RBI’s (20) and home runs (3) last season. She hit .311 last season at SJA with a slugging percentage of .478.  She also pitched in 13 games (27 total innings) and struck out 10 batters while only allowing 29 hits.
She was the Jaguars’ Offensive Player of the Year in 2015 after posting a slugging percentage of .862 which helped her earn a nomination for the Plain Dealer/ Player of the Year Award.
The University of Maine is an NCAA Division 1 softball program that competes in the American East Conference.
“Maddie is an outstanding athlete and has established herself as a leader both on and off the field,” said SJA head coach Dale Dawson.  “Maddie is the rare player in softball that can play all nine positions extremely well, including pitcher and catcher.”

Milligan had a slugging percentage of .425 last season while also adding 14 RBI’s and a pair of home runs.  Defensively, the first baseman, only committed one error in 153 innings.  Milligan is a three-year letterwinner at SJA.

Baldwin Wallace University is an NCAA Division 3 school that competes in the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC).

“Mackenzie is an extremely hard worker and student of the game,” said Dawson.  “She never takes a pitch off whether she’s on offense or defense. The power she provides a lineup will be a big asset to the Baldwin Wallace program.”

Whitaker, the starting catcher for the Jaguars from day one at SJA, was named Honorable Mention All-NEO last season along with earning team MVP honors.  Last spring, she hit .387 with a .634 slugging percentage.  She hit four home runs and drove in 36 runs.  She also threw out 50% of base runners last season (16 of 32).  She plays on the Ohio Power Premier Team and hit .411 in the summer and .394 in the fall.

Whitaker will be joining the Gannon University program that plays in the NCAA’s Division 2 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.

“Sydnie is an outstanding catcher and will do extremely well at the next level,” said Dawson.  “She was our offensive MVP in 2016 leading the team in both home runs and RBI’s.”

Senior golfer Isabelle Robertson will be joining NCAA Division 2 Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, NC. She was SJA’s top golfer for the past two seasons.  Her last round at SJA was her best as she shot a career-low 96 for 18 holes in the sectional tournament on the Legacy Course at Sweetbriar in Avon Lake (finishing 26th out of 72).  She was consistently the medalist for SJA in matches throughout the season and was a letterwinner both her junior and senior seasons.  She received the Coaches Award for SJA golf in 2015.  She dramatically improved each season, especially her final year at SJA, as she reduced her scoring average by 13 strokes from 2015 to 2016.  She also plays golf on the North Coast Junior Tour and ranked 14th on the tour, finishing in 11th place at the Tour Championship.

“Isabelle Robertson epitomizes what a hard-working, dedicated athlete can achieve, said SJA Head Golf Coach Maureen Adler.  “As a freshman Izzy picked up the game of golf. She fell for the game and committed  to improving each and every week, every match, every year, and she certainly did that.  Izzy is a success story that I tell to all those that have joined the team since she started her freshman year.  I am so proud of her and happy for her achieving a goal that she set for herself as a freshman – to play college golf.”

Schauer will be joining the women’s hockey program at Division 1 Robert Morris University, outside of Pittsburgh.  Schauer is a member of the girls Under 19 Pittsburgh Penguins Elite team.  She was selected to attend the USA Hockey National Player Development Camp each year from 2013-16.  She led her team in assists last winter.  She is also a three-year letterwinner for the SJA track and field team in shot put and discus.

“It has always been my goal to play hockey in college,” said Schauer.  “Robert Morris University gave me the opportunity to live out my dream and also receive a great education. I plan to major in Early Childhood Education and History. After school I would like to continue to work with girls’ hockey programs at the youth and collegiate levels in addition to teaching kindergarten in an inner city school.”

Written by AD: John Manuszak[complete_gallery id=”4867″ class=”alignnone” ]