There were so many Highland Park athletes signing letters of intent on Wednesday afternoon, the stage in the cafeteria where signing ceremonies are usually held was entirely too small.
Highland Park basketball players Chase Fletcher (Richmond), Sara Johnson (Lasell), Matt Fraschilla (Harvard), Will Miller (Mount St. Mary’s), and Kaitlyn Read (New York University), along with soccer players Dominic Duffel (Flagler), Connor Hayward (Washington and Lee), and Sam Hayward (Pennsylvania), and cross country/track athlete Mary Beth Hamilton (Texas) all celebrated moving on to play at the next level at a ceremony on Wednesday afternoon. The majority of the signings were non-scholarship.
Read, a point guard, was a four-year starter for the Lady Scots who earned all-state honors from both the Texas Girls Coaches Association and Texas Association of Basketball Coaches this season. She helped Highland Park make a run to the regional quarterfinals two seasons ago.
“It’s a little bittersweet to finish my [high school] career next year, but I couldn’t be more excited about playing next year,” Read said. “When I visited, I fell in love with the team and with the city. I’m really anxious to get there and get started. I considered all of my options, and this is definitely going to be the best fit for me. I had a perfect four years here, and I’m looking forward to another four years.”
All three Scots basketball players are interesting stories. Fletcher, a two-year starter at wing who finished with 1,196 career points, will be a preferred walk-on for the Spiders. He will also be reunited with former teammate Zach Chu, who will be a junior on Richmond’s basketball team next year.
Fraschilla, a point guard and son of ESPN college basketball analyst and former Division I coach Fran Fraschilla, will get to join his brother James, who plays for Oklahoma, at the Division I level. And Miller, also a wing, was a late bloomer who spent just one season on the Highland Park varsity and parlayed it into playing Division I basketball.
“The biggest thing is the academics,” Fraschilla said. “I’m going to be good for four years, and then I’m going to be good for a long time after that. It will be a little different and farther away from home but it’s exciting. I remember being in fourth, fifth, sixth grade playing basketball and talking about playing Division I basketball. You never really knew what it meant — the work you put into it. It was just so far away, but now it’s here.”
Fletcher is excited to have the chance to play at the next level.
“Zach and I are were the best of friends when he was here, so I’m really excited to go back out there,” Fletcher said. “[Former Scots basketball player] David Allen is just up the road about two hours away [at Georgetown]. There’s a lot of tradition and following there. It’s a great school, which was one of the biggest draws. Great basketball and great school.”
Hamilton will join the Longhorns after helping the Lady Scots win three straight cross country state championships. She will join a pair of former Highland Park runners — Sara Sutherland and Jenna Read — in Austin.
“A couple of years ago, if you had told me to Texas, I would not have believed it,” Hamilton said. “Just getting to go on a visit and meet all of the coaches and all of the girls, having already known a couple of them, it’s just an awesome program and a really cool place to be. They could not be more friendly or welcoming. That kind of atmosphere helps you in your performance. That’s what I’ve experienced the last four years at Highland Park — it’s the same kind of deal.”
Sam Heyward, a forward who did not get to play for most of the last two seasons because his club team does not allow players to compete in high school, was excited to be signing with his brother Connor,a goalkeeper, and their teammate Duffel, another midfielder.
“It means a lot,” Sam said. “When I first started academy soccer, Connor wasn’t into it. He played at a high level, but not as intense. I didn’t think he was going to be able to play. He’s a very smart kid I thought would go somewhere for school. Getting him to sign and play soccer means a lot. My top three were Harvard, Penn, and West Point [Army]. My first decision was Harvard. It was all smooth sailing until all of a sudden they needed me to meet some requirements with my grades I couldn’t meet. I love the school and Philadelphia.”
Tennis player Nan Porter also signed with Army in a ceremony last Friday.