More and more, Berwick student-athletes are moving on to hone their skills at the collegiate level. A decade ago, this was not the norm.
From 2006 to 2009, Berwick averaged no more than three students each year who planned to participate in athletics at the next level. It was not until 2011, when 11 seniors moved on to college athletics, that the trend began to shift. It was not a coincidence that Berwick teams began to improve during that period. The school has seen significant growth in its competitiveness within the EIL, and is receiving regular invitations to NEPSAC tournaments.
Between 2011 and 2017, Berwick earned 20 team championships, including three NEPSAC titles, and boasted 24 EIL Players of the Year.
A more staggering number is 46, which represents the current number of Berwick alumni playing – or recruited to play – NCAA varsity sports.
Over the last four years, Berwick has averaged 10.5 students moving on to play collegiate sports. With an average class size of 75.25, that number represents 14 percent of each graduating class.
Izzy Reis ’15 recently completed her sophomore season at Princeton, as one of the University’s top swimmers. While at Berwick, Izzy was twice invited to the Olympic Trials. As a senior, she led BA to the NEPSAC swimming title.
“Being a successful student-athlete in college is all about time management,” she says. “Academics are rigorous and practices are demanding. Juggling my academic and athletic careers at Berwick gave me the opportunity to practice that time management and, with a lot of trial and error, gave me the skills to be a successful student-athlete.”
Berwick is fortunate to have a talented and dedicated corps of athletic coaches. It is clear from the success of Berwick graduates beyond the Hilltop that the school’s teacher-coach model is alive and well. Soccer coach Patrick Connolly asserts that forging teams that emphasize skill development, self-confidence, concentration, sportsmanship, and a commitment enhancing the value of the experience for all student-athletes is key to the recent success of Berwick programs. Girls varsity hockey coach Molly Gabarro speaks of a responsibility to steward the experiences she and other Berwick coaches have enjoyed in their own athletic careers, passing them along to the students in their charge.
“This goes beyond instruction and extends to the intangibles that college coaches are evaluating, such as self-discipline, teamwork, and the ability to handle adversity,” says Gabarro. “As a coach, there are few things as rewarding as being able to watch former players fulfilling their dreams at their college or university. They may wear a different jersey after leaving the Hilltop, but they carry the pride of being a Berwick student and the experiences that helped shape them.”
Today, more than ever, says boys hockey coach Jeff Jarnot, there are seemingly endless paths to college athletics. The challenge for teenagers today is twofold, Jarnot adds, pointing to an increasing number of avenues to college than ever before, but also to very few new college programs sprouting up. This reality decreases the odds of high school athletes competing at the next level. At the same time, the rise of social media has increased the pressure of the process, says Jarnot, making commitment decisions more public than ever.
“Every coach on our staff is an educator first, and we take pride in our commitment to educating and developing the entire athlete,” Jarnot says. “For those looking excel beyond high school, our job is to inform these student-athletes of the commitment it takes to get there, both in and out of the classroom. Whether or not they go on to play in college, they carry with them the lessons of hard work, dedication, and teamwork, traits that translate across all arenas of life.”
Berwick alumni currently competing in college sports
Thomas Anderson ’16 - Hamilton College Swimming and Crew
Caroline Hernon ’16 - University of New Hampshire Lacrosse
Alyssa Hulst ’16 - Norwich University Ice Hockey
Drew Macdonald ’16 - Bowdoin College Swimming
Siobhan McDermott ’16 - College of the Holy Cross Lacrosse
Tatiana Bradley ’15 - Hamilton College Field Hockey and Lacrosse
Aimee Briand ’15 - Castleton State Ice Hockey
Tilly Burzynski ’15 - Providence College Ice Hockey
Isabella Eldridge ’15 - Lynchburg College Field Hockey
Joe Lazarro ’15 - University of New Hampshire Ice Hockey
Lukas Linemayr ’15 - Babson College Golf
Julia Mini ’15 - Williams College Ice Hockey and Crew
Izzy Reis ’15- Princeton University Swimming
Liam Bristol ’14 - Wesleyan University Crew
Jenna Hayden ’14 - Wheaton College Swimming
Stephen Sherbahn ’14 - Franklin and Marshall Soccer
Cam Toohey ’14 - Connecticut College Ice Hockey
Sam Hines ’14 - Lafayette College Swimming
Melanie Mait ’14 - Bates College Lacrosse
Kaitlyn Wurzer ’14 - St. Michael's College Ice Hockey