Seniors sign letters of intent for playing Division 1 athletics


For the Class of 2022, polishing and submitting college applications has dominated their fall semesters, but for 11 Wildcats, the search for their athletic and academic future is over.

On Nov. 10, 2021, seniors Harris Barth, Caroline Blankenbecler, Annie Jardina, Gigi Johnson, William Love, Price Miller, Sydney Moore, Edward Rendle, Helen Symbas, Henley Tippins, and Ashley Vincent took a step forward in their college aspirations. Each signed national letters of intent to continue their athletic careers at a collegiate level. 

Jardina signed a national letter of intent to continue her swimming career at the Naval Academy in the fall of 2022. “It really means a lot that I’m able to spend the next four years with an incredible group of women on the swim and dive team,” said Jardina.

For Jardina and other seniors, competing in their sport collegiately has been a lifelong dream come true.

“I feel like I’ve been working towards this my whole life,” said University of Richmond soccer commit Moore. “I started playing soccer at such a young age, I always knew I wanted to play in college because soccer is just something I love and that brings me joy.”

For several of these student athletes, their commitment to colleges for sports has also been a long-time goal of their parents and families as well. Love, a Duke University golf commit, started playing when he first picked up a club with his dad, another collegiate golf athlete.

“My dad started me with it, so I’ve always had the idea of wanting to play as long as I can and eventually hopefully play professionally,” said Love.

While some seniors knew immediately that they wanted to continue their athletic careers in college, others spent time deliberating over whether or not this was the right path for them.

“I asked myself if I wanted to spend many hours a week doing the sport that I do a lot,” said Blankenbecler, Villanova University diving commit. “It was a really hard decision, but the coaches told me that if I go visit other colleges, I’ll know 100 percent if I want to continue it. That was really nice to have support.”

While deciding which college would be best to further their athletic careers, seniors also had to consider which schools would be a good academic fit.

“I chose Richmond because of the sense of family and community I felt when I went there,” said Moore. “I just knew that it would be a place where I would be supported, and I could grow to be the best version of myself as a player and as a student.”

Many of the student athletes felt that the environment of the school was equally important to the athletic rigor.

“It was mainly the decision between a place where I was going to be able to enjoy the athletics but also enjoy the atmosphere provided by the school,” said Love. “Knowing it’s a good academic school and knowing that I’m going to enjoy the people there was a big factor as well.”

As anticipation for their next school year builds, these senior athletes are preparing for the intense level of competition they will face in college.

“I’m most scared for the adjustment because there will be more practices than I’m used to with double [practices] and lifting,” said Jardina.

These seniors will also have to navigate playing for high profile teams, where their performance will impact an overall team result. This is a new aspect for the commits who play individual sports.

“I’m most nervous about competing as a team,” said Love. “If I do something wrong here, it’s on me. I’ve never had to think about the team aspect of that.”

“What I’m really scared about is messing up,” said Blankenbecler. “I feel like that’s really scary in college because there’s a lot more on the line.”

Although the stress of going to college and competing in a higher-pressure environment is intimidating, these seniors are also looking forward to meeting new people and getting out of their comfort zones.

“I’m most excited for the big end-of-season meets like the Army-Navy meet and the conference championships because the girls said those are always really fun,” said Jardina. “I’m also excited to have a break from my day to go do something that I enjoy doing and to meet all the new people.”

“I’m most excited about getting to compete as a team,” said Love. “I think it’s a fun aspect to an individual sport that doesn’t get brought out much– knowing that you’re playing for something greater than yourself.”

A few athletes have also started thinking about their athletic goals in college and what they want to contribute to their teams.

“I am hoping to make the NCAA tournament by the time my four years are up,” said Moore. “I’m also setting a personal goal to give all I have and hopefully keep the goals scored against me really low.”

Some of the athletes even intend on continuing their athletic careers beyond the collegiate level.

“I want to do this for my career and use college as my next step towards getting to that professional level,” said Love.

Signing day is just one step in these Wildcats’ athletic careers, but nonetheless the few minutes it takes them to sign their name and officially commit to schools reveals many years of hard work and determination. The Westminster community is very supportive of their decisions and looks forward to seeing them represent their colleges and Westminster in the years to come.

In the fall of 2022 these students will continue their academic and athletic careers:

Harris Barth – Furman University Golf

William Love – Duke University Golf

Price Miller – Davidson College Golf

Ashley Vincent – Stanford University Volleyball

Sydney Moore – University of Richmond Soccer

Helen Symbas – University of Virginia Soccer

Henley Tippins – Georgetown University Soccer

Edward Rendle – Northeastern University Soccer

Annie Jardina – Naval Academy Swimming

Gigi Johnson – Stanford University

Caroline Blankenbecler – Villanova University Diving