HORSEHEADS, N.Y. (WETM) – Families, friends, and coaches gathered in the Horseheads High School auditorium Wednesday afternoon as eight local athletes signed their letters of intent to play collegiate athletics.

Seven of the students will play Division I athletics after graduating next spring, and the eighth will play Division II lacrosse at Gannon University.

The of the athlete’s coaches all spoke glowingly about how they watched the student-athletes grow both on and off the field.

Therese (Tess) Cites: Villanova University (Division I) – Softball

From Coach Al Falkowski: “Tess Cites is a very strong, hardworking athlete. Villanova’s getting a great player. She has been on varsity softball for 3 years and played 1st base last season, making zero errors – quite an achievement. She also played varsity basketball last year, earning the Coach’s Award.  Tess made all state the last two years and was part of sectional championship team in 2018. Tess is a member of the National Honor Society and is a Varsity H officer.

Gavin Elston: Manhattan College (Division I) – Lacrosse

From Coach Jason Neubauer: “Gavin was called up to Varsity part way through his freshman season and has been a starter at midfield since then.  He has scored 99 goals and 53 assists for 152 points going into his senior season.  He is a two time 1st-Team All-League Midfielder, and led Division II in goals scored in 2019.  He was named to the All-State 8th Team in 2019. This will be my fifth straight season as Gavin’s head coach, and I can say in my ten years at HHS that he is one of the most athletic players I have seen in all of Section IV.  He is a threat to score from anywhere on the field, and we are looking forward to his senior season.” 

Abigail Packard: University of Massachusetts Lowell (Division I) – Softball

From Coach Al Falkowski: “Abbie is very much deserving of scholarship to U. Mass Lowell.  She’s one of the hardest working kids I know.  She brings a ton of energy not only to the softball field, but also to the track team and other school activities. Along with working on her softball skills all year round, she runs indoor track is the team captain. She has earned 9 Varsity letters along with 3 years of Varsity softball. Most importantly she is a wonderful kid, one of our leaders on the team and a great role model for our younger players. She has made the All STAC West Team 2018 and 2019, largely because she works so hard at it. Abbie is also a member of the National Honor Society, Vice President of student Council, and 2020 Varsity H President.”

Maiah Skakal: Saint Peter’s University (Division I) – Softball

From Coach Al Falkowski: “Maiah has been the starting catcher for varsity softball for the past 3 season.  She has been a rock behind the plate.  Make zero errors last season, that’s unheard of for a catcher.  She’s been STAC All-Star the last 3 seasons, WETM Athlete of the Week last year.  She received the Wayne Coburn award last season and Scholar Athlete Award in 2018.”

Avery Snyder: Coastal Carolina University (Division I) – Girls Lacrosse

From Coach Kelly Reilly: “Avery is a great lacrosse player, never afraid to go to the goal. When she has the ball, her first thought is to go to goal, if she doesn’t have the opportunity, she looks for a pass. Avery always gave 100% during games and practices. Even though Avery plays two other sports during the year, she always finds room to sneak lacrosse in there. That’s true love of the game, doing all you can to better yourself. Avery scored her 100th goal this past season, and hopefully finished her high school career with 200! Avery was also awarded The Elmira Kiwanis Club, Bee Stephens Female Athlete of the Year Award, was on Under Armour All America Team, US Lacrosse National Team, 2018 & 2019 Section IV ALL team selection and WETM Athlete of the Week.”

McKenna Woodworth: Gannon University (Division II) – Girls Lacrosse

From Coach Kelly Reilly: “McKenna is a leader on and off the field, and a hard worker, always giving 100% till the last second. McKenna came to all off season workouts/open gym, etc. to help better her lacrosse skills. She wasn’t afraid to ask to work on something specific. McKenna is an athlete who will do anything for the team to win, even if that means she doesn’t score, she will help in making assists or creating opportunities for other teammates. McKenna was award Elmira Kiwanis Club, Outstanding Spring Female Athlete, WETM Athlete of the week, 2018 Section IV All Star Second team, 2019 All Star First team, and team MVP in 2019.”

Jillian Casey – Quinnipiac University (Division I), Basketball

From Coach Andy Scott: “Jillian Casey is the epitome of hard work, dedication and commitment. In the nine years I have known Jill, she quietly goes about her business, has a positive attitude, and has worked her tail off. For three years she traveled to Binghamton for training four days a week with BNY Select, an elite training and AAU program. On top of that, she would travel all over the East Coast for AAU Tournaments and Exposure events. Most athletes would get home and rest, but every day, on top of that, Jill would put up an additional 500 shots in her driveway or in the gym. Her tireless work ethic made her the most dangerous and most prolific shooter to come out of Horseheads. On top of all the great basketball accomplishments, Jill has also maintained a 99 academic average in school. She has sacrificed a lot to become the best student-athlete she could be. Also, Jill has always been unselfish when it comes to basketball. She has played every position based on the team’s need, and never has complained. She is true team player, and a class act person, and Quinnipiac is getting the best of the best! The girls basketball staff and program want to extend congratulations to Jill and her family. Her parents have never complained, always supported the program, and have been a breath of fresh air as far as taking things one day a time. Thank you to Jillian Casey for doing things the right way, and for showing the younger athletes that anything is possible with the right work ethic and motivation. Congrats to #24 Jill Casey!!”

Miranda Novitsky – Canisius (Divison I), Soccer

From Coach Lee Spencer: “Miranda Novitsky is a hard-working, dedicated, exceptional soccer player. She has been a four-year starter on the Girls Varsity Soccer team, with 11 goals in the most recent season. She has exceptional foot and ball skills, can play anywhere on the field, and is an excellent one-on-one defender. Along with her dedication to the team, she spends countless hours at our open gyms and travels weekly to play with her travel team, GPS in Binghamton. She has traveled up and down the east coast competing with GPS teams. Miranda’s dedication to the game has given her skills that make her a danger no matter where she is on the field. Miranda is always willing to stay after practice to work on different parts of the game and that willingness to put in extra time has allowed her to excel at both the high school and elite travel team level. She has sacrificed a lot to become the best student athlete she can be. Canisius is getting not only a great soccer player but an outstanding individual. Congratulations to Miranda and her family on this great accomplishment.  The Girls Soccer coaching staff and program is very proud of everything you have done and look forward to what you will accomplish with your new team at the next level.”