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Eight seniors made the commitment to compete in collegiate athletes during a ceremony on April 26, bringing to 24 the number of students from Norfolk Academy's Class of 2024 who will play at the next level.

The ceremony highlighted athletic feats, as well as academic successes and growth. Director of Athletics Chad Byler thanked  teachers, coaches, and advisors who helped each student-athlete reach this point, along with parents and family members who have been supporting them through their many years of hard work.

“Each of you have your own unique story about your journey, and over the past four years it has been quite a ride," Byler said. “As Bulldogs you have left behind a lasting legacy through your commitment, your respect, your toughness, and your spirit. But one thing that remains constant, you're a Bulldog for life. We could not be prouder about what you have accomplished so far and what you will achieve in the years to come."

The student-athletes are role models, Byler added. Their work ethic and dedication over the years have inspired.

“Thank you for setting such a remarkable example for all of our future Bulldogs," he said. 

College Counselor Steve Monninger, who also is Director of Fitness, Strength, and Conditioning, and coach of the football team, serves as a bridge between the college counseling and athletics departments. He reminded the student-athletes of all they've accomplished and the work they'll need to put in at the next level. 

“When you compete in college, things will not always come easy," Monninger said. “There will certainly be moments of significant adversity that will come your way. Our advice to you is that you rely on the values of work ethic, grit, and mental toughness that you've already demonstrated while here at Norfolk Academy."

“Be ready to push yourself harder than you ever have before. We know you will continue to make us proud," Monninger added. 

The student-athletes then spoke, thanking their families, teachers, coaches, trainers, and so many more people who have helped them along the way. Here's a snippet:

  • William Cole, Cross Country, Hampden-Sydney College: “When I reflect on how much has been imparted on me by so many people, I feel like the luckiest person in the world. Graduating is bittersweet, but I will take the lessons and victories with me everywhere I go."
  • Richard Hope, Lacrosse, Hampden-Sydney College: “Thank you to my friends and family for being by my side on my journey and pushing me past my limits."
  • Seamus Roberson, Rowing, Jacksonville University: “I would not be where I am today without the support I've been given from teammates, coaches, friends, and family to make me the best athlete I can be."
  • Marin Soderberg, Sailing, Brown University: “Thank you to my team for the countless memories that I will cherish forever and for fostering my love for this sport."
  • Tommy Tan, Track and Field, United States Merchant Marine Academy: “I would like to thank and express my gratitude to all of those who have invested their time and energy into my God-given abilities to help me become a better track athlete."
  • Sam Tignor, Wrestling, Washington and Lee University: “Wrestling is arguably the hardest sport there is, with its combined toughness and skill. So when someone embarks on their journey in the sport it is important to have coaches by their side who will push them to be great, and also those who will be in their corner no matter what."
  • Sean Trudell, Sailing, United States Naval Academy: “I would like to thank my coaches, teammates, family, and friends for helping me get to where I am today. Your support has been unwavering."
  • Carter Whetstine, Swimming, Washington and Lee University: “First and foremost I want to express my deepest thanks to my club and high school coaches. Your dedication, guidance, and unwavering belief in my potential in and out of the water have been instrumental in shaping me as an athlete and as an individual."

Here are the 16 seniors who committed at a ceremony in the fall:

  • Lee Acra, Lacrosse - Hampden-Sydney College ​
  • Lizzie Adams, Field Hockey - Columbia University ​
  • Brooke Bettencourt, Field Hockey - Wake Forest University ​
  • Jack Chesson, Lacrosse - Hampden-Sydney College ​
  • Jack Clayton, Football - Washington & Lee University​
  • Dylan Defoor, Track and Field - William & Mary  ​
  • Zahir Griffith, Football - William & Mary ​
  • Plyler Hunter, Baseball - Albright College ​
  • Andrew Kim, Soccer - United States Military Academy​
  • Carter Lucas, Rowing - Trinity College​
  • Mack Panko, Field Hockey - University of Iowa ​
  • Gretchen Scott, Field Hockey - Brown University ​
  • Luke Shinofield, Lacrosse - University of Denver ​
  • Lily Stockwell, Field Hockey - Middlebury College ​
  • Cooper Tyszko, Football - Wesleyan University ​
  • Charlie Violette, Lacrosse - Randolph-Macon College 


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