Head of School Dr. John Dolan called it “a generational event” for St. Mary’s High School, and that perfectly captured the accomplishment of four of the school’s most outstanding student-athletes – Jenna Chaplain, Niya Morgen, Kellyn Preira, and Yirsy Queliz.
“To have four signees going off to play at the highest levels possible in and of itself is a remarkable achievement,” said Dolan in an opening statement at the Hollywood-style media event. “The four women you see in front of you today have a cumulative GPA of 3.845. It is truly a remarkable day. These four student-athletes have achieved at the highest level not only athletically but academically. I want you to know how proud we are of the four young ladies being honored today. It is also a credit to their coaches, Jeff Newhall (basketball) and Frank Pagliuca (ice hockey).”
Dolan’s praise of the four scholar-athletes was well-deserved and well-earned.
Hockey star Chaplain (Assumption), who has 175 points during her spectacular career to-date, and basketball standouts Morgen (Bentley), Preira (Monmouth), and Queliz (Northeastern) – who are set to help St. Mary’s defend its Division 3 state title this winter) signed National Letters of Intent during a momentous ceremony that was held with their families present. It is a day that the four students will remember for the rest of their lives. Combined, the four-year scholarships total more than $1 million.
Newhall, who also serves as the director of athletics, said he was proud of the commitment that each of the four athletes has demonstrated to their academics and athletics.
“I think first and foremost, they’re athletically gifted, but they’ve dedicated themselves to the academics both during the school day and after school,” said Newhall. “To be able to balance what they all do athletically and to come out with the GPAs that they have is as important as getting the scholarships because it shows they’re truly dedicated to their academics as well.”
Pagliuca lauded Chaplain and the other honorees.
“I think it’s a great day for Jenna and the other three student-athletes- it’s a special event at St. Mary’s,” said Pagliuca. “They do great in the classroom, and they’re great in the community, and really represent the school well, so it’s just a great day all-around. Jenna’s a special player. She works really hard, and with her talent and her hard work, it came to this day. I’m so proud of her.”
Following are quotes from the four student-athletes about the significance of the letter-signing ceremony:
“This day is very special to me, knowing that my family, friends, and coaches are here. It’s just such a special moment, and everything about it is amazing.
“I want to thank Coach Pagliuca for everything that he has done and the hockey he has taught me. Since I was in seventh grade, he has taught me basically everything I know, and I just want to thank him for that.”
“This day is very important to me because it’s like the start of new beginnings. It’s great to have two of my best friends closest to me, signing on the same day. We’re all chasing our dreams, working hard. I’m just grateful for every opportunity that I’m given.
“I want to thank Mr. Newhall for everything – for helping me to get into St. Mary’s, for pushing me every day academically and athletically, and hopefully this season we can go back-to-back state titles.”
“This day means a lot because I come in here from the Dominican Republic, not knowing what the process is, and now going on to play at the next level is something huge for me and my family.
“Mr. Newhall is a great guy. I love him dearly. I thank him for everything he’s done for me and for helping me basketball career and school wise.”
“This day is very exciting, just to see my two closest friends on the basketball team and me, along with Jenna, all sign and have our whole school here.
“Mr. Newhall is a great coach and he taught me a lot about basketball and the importance of academics. I’m very grateful for him.”