NEW LENOX – It was clear to most why Mark Coglianese had a smile on his face for much of Wednesday’s college signing day at Providence Catholic.
The veteran Celtics football coach understandably was proud to see 12 of his athletes from this past year’s Class 6A semifinal team making their college commitments in front of family and friends. Also joining the football players was soccer player Scottie Slocum.
Half of the football players decided to continue their careers at two schools, Saint Xavier University and St. Ambrose University, and their new coaches were on hand for the event.
Joining coach Mike Feminis’ perennially strong Saint Xavier program in Chicago will be Tom Farley, Joey Markasovic and Steven Meyer.
“I’ll take as many Providence guys as I can get,” Feminis said. “We’ve had some unbelievable kids come from [Providence] going on 20 years now. To get three more is great for our program, and now we’ve got a third Markasovic, so we’re excited. They come from a great program and they know how to play football and are well-coached coming in, so that makes it easier for us. We have very similar philosophies as to how to run a program. They’ve done it forever and play a great schedule, so these kids are ready to play college football.”
Signing up to join coach Mike Magistrelli’s St. Ambrose program were Tim Klotz, Aaron Krockey and Joey Tracy. The Fighting Bees coach was happy to travel from Davenport, Iowa, to see his new players.
“We’ve drawn a number of kids from the Chicagoland area, and Providence has been one of those pipelines for us,” Magistrelli said. “So we’re certainly excited to get three of their guys. It’s good to get guys from a winning and successful high school football program since they understand what it takes to be successful, and those are the same things that will carry over at the collegiate level. You also know that you’re getting an outstanding individual that’s not only a good student, but a good person who will be a great asset on and off the field.”
Jack Halper was one of the last athletes to make his decision known. He is going to Kent State University, where he will be a long snapper. He’ll get to play under new coach Sean Lewis, who played at Richards for Gary Korhonen and at Wisconsin for Barry Alvarez.
“This means a lot,” Halper said. “Kent State is rebuilding and has a new coaching staff, and they’re expecting great things the next few years. I feel great about this, and it’s a great fit for me, so I’m excited about the next four years. Providence does a great job of preparing you. I’m not afraid and know what I’m getting myself into. I feel like I’m ready for the next level.”
Mitchell Gray is appreciative not only for the Celtics program, but also for his education at the school and how both have helped prepare him for the next level, where he’ll join several Chicago-area athletes at St. Norbert College in DePere, Wisconsin.
“Having the opportunity to play here for four years, getting lots of experience and training has really helped me get prepared for college and the types of athletes they have there,” Gray said. “I want to make the practice squad, travel with the team and get to know a new group of people. I’m going there for Pre-Med, since I want to be an anesthesiologist, and I’m in the honors program there. It’s cool to see my teammates showing their talents at other colleges.”
Athletes going to the University of Chicago receive the bonus of competing, while also attending one of the nation’s top schools. That’s why Caden Kalinowski considers himself very fortunate to have that opportunity.
“My focus has been on academics from the start, and that drew me to the University of Chicago,” Kalinowski said. “My plan is to go into economics, and that’s also a big reason why I chose the university. There’s plenty of kids who don’t have the opportunities that I do, so I’m so thankful to have a chance to go to a school like the University of Chicago. Our class has been incredible, and I’m proud of all of my teammates and everything they’ve accomplished.”
Other football players who made their college choices known were Dylan Davalos, who will attend Arizona Western College; Eduardo Favela, who will be going to Drake University; and Cody Nawrot, who will continue on at Ohio Dominican University.
Slocum was the first Celtics athlete who announced his plans at the ceremony. He hadn’t originally planned on playing soccer in college, but is happy to have the opportunity at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.
“This is something that I always wanted to do since the first day that I started playing sports,” Slocum said. “I thought that I would play college basketball, but then things switched and I’m fortunate to be able to have this opportunity because a lot of people don’t get it. I found a school and they found me, and we both clicked. We accomplished a lot and our teams will be remembered as some of the best here. I liked all of the schools that I was looking at, but I liked the quality of the engineering program, since that’s what you’re going to college for.”