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Student Athletes Commit to Next Level

Knights student athletes sign with their respective schools on national signing day on Feb. 5. Photo: Fred Assaf

Pace Academy is known for preparing its student athletes for the next chapter in their lives: college. Some have excelled in their respective sports, becoming top athletes in their class and giving themselves the opportunity to commit to colleges and universities around the country to continue their academic and athletic careers at the next level. These senior athletes sealed the deal with their schools on national signing day, held on Feb. 5.

Cross country captain George Adams has committed to run Division 1 track and cross country for the University of Pennsylvania. George was not considering Penn until less than a week before he applied.

Coach Dolan from Penn called me about a week before their [early decision] deadline and we talked a couple of nights in a row that week,” he said. “Two days later he flew me up there for one day on the weekend, I loved it, went ED and got in. I’m glad he called me because if he had called me one week later I would be going somewhere else.” George’s other offers included The University of Georgia, University of Southern California, Yale, Dartmouth and Wake Forest University. 

There were many reasons why George made his fast decision to commit to Penn. “I chose Penn for a couple of reasons, one being the great academic opportunity that it provided me with the PPE major (politics, philosophy and economics),” said George. “Penn also has built strong cross country and track teams that will compete for an Ivy League championship year in and year out.” 

George has high ambitions for his last semester at Pace. “I hope to be the best 800m runner in Georgia and one of the top in the nation. I hope I can re-break my 800m and 1600m and 4x800m school records and also go get the 4×400 and high jump school records,” he said. He will miss many things about Pace, including his teammates, coaches and the community that supported him, but most of all his brother. “I’ll mostly miss walking into meets with my brother by my side knowing we are going to push each other to go finish first and second together in every race that we run,” he said. This year will be the last time we get to do that together.” 

George’s twin brother, cross country captain and track star Sam Adams, recently announced his commitment to The University of Georgia’s (UGA) Division 1 track program. Sam received many other offers, and he seriously debated going to Dartmouth or Yale. “I found the recruiting process to be very difficult, mostly because I was handed so many great options and had to choose just one,” said Sam. While the decision was tough, UGA had everything he was looking for. “I chose Georgia because when I went down to visit, I saw that the community was very tight knit and relaxed, while also having a standard of winning,” said Sam. 

With the recruiting process over, Sam is focused on a successful final track season with the Knights. “My main goal this season is to get a ring, and hopefully I can help us win the first team championship since 1972,” he said. But Sam is also looking ahead to next year. “I am looking to win a championship in college whether it be individual, relay or team,” he said. Sam is also excited to meet new friends and get to know the team at UGA better. 

Volleyball extraordinaire and team captain Ada Jane Agolli, also known as “Big Lank,” announced her commitment to play Division 1 volleyball at Brown University last September, marking the first Ivy League volleyball commit in Pace history. “I definitely felt ready to just make my decision for good once I toured Brown,” said Agolli. “Obviously being an Ivy, the academic side to the school is excellent, which made the choice much easier for me.”

She feels more comfortable and confident now that her college process is over. According to Agolli, the best part is she no longer has to worry about the pressure of scouts or coaches watching over her every game, and she can just play freely. Her teammates are not strangers to her, as many of them were her opponents in club games over the past years. “The moment I’m going to miss the most playing Pace volleyball is that feeling when we won the last point to win the 2017 state championship. Everyone storming the court just filled my mind with joy.” 

Softball player Caroline Landis committed on Dec. 13 to Bowdoin College. Landis had offers from Colby College and Grinnell College as well, but Bowdoin was everything she wanted in a college. “I picked Bowdoin because I felt like it was the best fit for me,” said Landis. “It’s small and has a collaborative learning environment while still being academically rigorous, which is what I was looking for in a school.” Landis was set on playing for a Division III school, knowing it would be a smaller college with challenging academics. “I had to submit a pre-read packet containing my transcript, test scores and resume to all the schools that requested them, and the coaches sent those to admissions for review,” she said. 

Landis cannot wait to meet her new teammates and live in Maine. “I’m also excited about taking a larger variety of classes in college and getting the chance to figure out what area I would like to study in more depth,” said Landis.  Right now I’m leaning toward economics or psychology, but we’ll see.” While Landis is already looking ahead, there are aspects of Pace she will miss. “I’m going to miss seeing the girls on the team every day at school,” she said. “With Pace being so small, I get to see them in the hallway when we’re not in season.”

Sasha Ratliff joined the Pace community last year as a junior from Saint Francis School and was not eligible to compete with the Pace volleyball team until this school year. But she was a major contributor to the team’s third state championship and ended her high school career as a three-time All-Region and All-State player, and an American Volleyball Association Player of the Week and All-American. In addition, prepvolleyball.com recently named Ratliff a 2020 All American.

Ratliff will play Division 1 volleyball at San Diego University (SDU). “My sister goes to San Diego State, so having some family over there as well as the strong academics they provide helped make my decision,” said Ratliff.  Her list of offers included schools such as Villanova University and Marquette University. Originally, her heart was set upon the East Coast, but upon her visit to SDU, the decision became effortless. Ratliff has already had the chance to get to know her upcoming teammates when she attended a volleyball camp in California. “I want to work harder now that I’ve committed,” said Ratliff. “I feel that chip on my shoulder to prove to people that I deserve to play in college.” 

Lauren Stebbins has made her commitment to enroll at Baylor University to further her equestrian skills in their renowned Division 1 program. Baylor had always been her top choice, so as soon as they offered, she decided to seal the deal. “I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to attend equestrian camps at both Auburn and Oklahoma State, which gave me exposure to being a student athlete on college grounds,” said Stebbins. “These experiences helped me better understand what I was looking for in a college.”

Stebbins feels determined to finish her senior season on a high note. As captain of the Pace equestrian team, she feels her leadership will help prepare her for Baylor. “When showing with the Pace team, it is not an individual sport,” said Stebbins. “Everyone rides much better when people are supportive and cheering them on.” Stebbins has yet to meet her future teammates at Baylor, but looks forward to doing so soon.

Jesus Tadeo has solidified his standout soccer skills since his entrance to Pace in 2016. He started off as a freshman on a very advanced team with many upperclassmen but took no time to fit right in. Tadeo announced his commitment to Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee a week before National Signing Day. The small liberal arts school has always been on the back of his mind since friends in the Rhodes soccer program have been encouraging him to check it out, but it only recently became his front runner.

“My college counselor, Mr. (Ben) Wescott, helped me a lot with the process,” said Tadeo. “He worked there for 10 years and had connections. I chose Rhodes because I already knew many of my teammates and I liked the community beyond the campus.” Already acquainted with two athletes from Atlanta who now attend Rhodes College, Tadeo is eager to get the season started.

With the Pace soccer season just underway, Tadeo’s mindset remains the same: to win. “I’m working to leave a good legacy here and end on a high note,” he said. “I want to make the most out of my last few months here and win State.” His biggest fans are his family, especially his father. “My dad has always been my number one coach, supporting me 24/7,” said Tadeo.

Dominique Turner has demonstrated her extraordinary skills on the volleyball court since she joined the Pace community in 2016 for her freshman year. Just one month before the end of junior year, Turner made her official commitment to play Division 1 volleyball at Marshall University in West Virginia.

Turner received offers from many schools, including Florida Gulf Coast University, University of Tennessee, Temple University and Marshall University, but Marshall felt like home. “I felt more comfortable there, somewhere I can spend the next four years,” said Turner. “If I waited or prolonged the process, I probably wouldn’t have found my perfect fit.” Her mindset has shifted from worrying about herself and the college process to now being 100% dedicated to her club team’s success. 

Pace lacrosse phenomenon and senior captain Claire Wierman made her decision in the summer after obtaining offers and interests from Amherst College, Washington and Lee University and Williams College. “I chose Williams because it’s a really cool environment,” she said. “Everyone is super outdoorsy and super active. Their program is really starting to take off so I wanted to be a part of that big picture.”

For lacrosse, when a player gets an offer, they typically have about two weeks to accept or deny, so Wierman already had an idea who would make her an offer and where she wanted to go. “I found out who my teammates were in an email, so we’re excited to all meet there,” she said.

Her mindset this Pace lacrosse season is to put the college process behind her but to remember that she can’t slack off and has to work just as hard. “The best part about committing to play my sport is that there is no ‘last game’ this year,” said Wierman. “Knowing that senior night at Pace won’t be my last game ever brings me relief.”

Senior football captain Mbiti Williams played wide receiver and cornerback for the Knights. He received offers and interests from Florida State University, Tennessee State University and the U.S. Naval Academy, but his choice was clear. His junior year, he committed to play Division 1 football at Navy. “I hadn’t visited Navy before I committed but I knew this was the best scenario for me,” said Williams. “It was the opportunity of a lifetime because it was so different. I have the chance to serve in the military, everything is paid for and academically it’s a great fit.”

Even after committing, Williams was still invested in his last season with the Knights football team. “I remember the game against ELCA when we stopped their 37-game win streak [in 2018]. Those are the moments I will cherish from Pace.”

 


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