By MIKE SMITH
On March 6, Rye High School held a celebration for senior Garnets who are committed to participating in collegiate athletic programs with a special event in the Rye High School Library.
With 25 Garnets slated to pursue athletics at the next level, the day was certainly a special one for the Rye community, according to Athletic Director Rob Castagna.
“This was definitely the largest group of athletes that we’ve had committed during my time here,” Castagna said.
Although Rye has held college signing events before, this one was unique, given the numbers involved. Castagna said he hoped this served not only as a sendoff to a particularly talented group, but also as a source of motivation for Rye’s younger athletes, who might be just be starting their college searches.
“We had such a large group of seniors that were committed and recruited to play their sport, we wanted to recognize that,” Castagna said. “I think this group is a great group of role models and I think they’re a great inspiration for the other kids to look up to. We like to use the phrase ‘winning builds winning.’”
What might be most unique about this group is it truly bridges the gaps between Rye’s different athletic programs. Rye’s college-bound athletes made their marks in a whopping 14 different sports this year.
“We’ve got basketball teams making the County Center, lacrosse teams going far in sectionals, baseball, softball; even our crew team had a boat at states,” Castagna said. “These kids are achievers. They’re overachievers.”
And while this group may be a special one, Castagna said, the overwhelming support from the Rye community was a big factor in helping the athletes get to this point.
“It’s a five-pronged approach,” he said. “Obviously the kids work hard, but we’ve also got so many talented coaches who have been here for a long time, the teachers in the classrooms, the parents, the community involvement, as well as the involvement of the school board and administrators.”
Castagna also pointed out there may even be more Garnets intent on pursuing athletics at the collegiate level, but not all seniors have finalized their decisions for next year. In the future, he said, the school might tweak its policy to ensure an even higher rate of participation in a similar event next year.
“We know that there might be some who haven’t made their commitments yet,” he said. “Next year, we might talk and try to do this in April to give the kids more time to make their decisions.”