J-D Produces a Litter of DII and DIII Athletes

By Griffin Johnson

Editor in Chief

With yet another drove of Jamesville-DeWitt High School seniors heading off to to bigger and better things, many have made the decision to play a collegiate sport. Although most at J-DHS know about the student-athletes who signed to play a Division I sport after seeing them sign letters of intent in front of cameras and a crowd in the Main Gym Foyer, there are several other athletes who will be playing Division II and III sports next year.

This year’s J-D Varsity Boys Lacrosse team includes 18 seniors, 12 of which will continue their lacrosse careers in college. Of those 12, six will play either DII or DIII. 

Goalie Joe Shapiro is on his way to play lacrosse at the College of Saint Rose, in Albany, New York. The team competes at the DII level in the Northeast-10 Conference. Shapiro committed to play for the Golden Knights at the end of April. Although he took a number of visits to the college in the fall, Shapiro’s final decision came relatively late in his senior year as he was waiting to find out his financial package from the school. “I was waiting on how much money I was going to get for a couple weeks, so when I finally got it, I was really excited,” he says. Shapiro is also excited to play for “an up and coming lacrosse program.” “I think they’ll be good in a couple of years, hopefully when I’m there,” he added.

Mike Engstrom, midfielder, will be heading off to Saint Lawrence University (DIII) to play lacrosse as well. As a Larry, Engstrom will be competing in the Liberty League against teams such as Clarkson, Union College, and RIT. Engstrom, who committed in late September, says that the major reason for his decision was the relationship he made with SLU Head Coach Mike Mahoney, as well as the players. “There was a strong bond between Coach and me and the players, which I really liked,” says Engstrom; “I could see myself there for four years with those guys. They were a good group of quality kids.”

Engstrom will also find himself playing against his current teammate Nick Wright (midfield/attack), who will be playing at Union College (in Schenectady, N.Y.) next year. Wright is looking forward to seeing Engstrom on the field. “It’s definitely gonna be interesting. It’ll be a nice little fun rivalry between us,” he says. Wright was also considering St. Lawrence, along with schools like Hamilton College, Skidmore College, and Clarkson University. But he decided on Union because of the school’s “great balance of academics and athletics.” “They’re a contender (for a DIII championship) every year, and their academics are unparalleled in the area,” he said. Wright understands the importance of his scholastic efforts in college and that is one of the reasons he finds DIII schools to be the best option. “I am (an advocate for DII over DI), so you can focus more on academics. DI is a like a full-time job while DIII is more like a part time job,” says Wright; “it’s more relaxed.”

Jamie McBurney, current, J-DHS defenseman, will also be competing against Engstrom and Wright in the Patriot League as a member of the Clarkson University Lacrosse team. McBurney said he had the opportunity to walk-on to a few DI teams at schools like Drexel University, Loyola University, and Lafayette College, but decided that DI wouldn’t be the best choice for his interests. “I feel like if I had gone to the other schools and played DI then I wouldn’t have been able to do some of the other things that I wanted to do,” says McBurney. “I want to ski a lot with Clarkson’s ski club, possibly play some club hockey and just focus on school,” he added. Although everyone will have to tryout for the team next year, McBurney says he’s not too worried. “I feel pretty confident in my ability to go up there and make an impact, not immediately, but be a part of the team and get some P.T. (playing time),” says McBurney.

Lucas Johnson, co-captain and midfielder for the the J-DHS Lacrosse, also decided to take the DIII route when he committed to Tufts University (New England Small College Athletic Conference) this past winter. Johnson also had the opportunity to play DI at Colgate University as he was offered a spot on the team. But Johnson didn’t focus on whether or not he would be playing DI or DIII while making his decision. “It was about the school first not the division, so I chose the school that worked best for me and that happened to be Division III,” he said. Tufts also gave Johnson some options in schooling, which he prefered. “Tufts had both engineering and a liberal arts program to offer. So I could choose, since I hadn’t really made up my mind about what I wanted to do,” he said.

Midfielder Colin Stone also focused on mostly on academics when thinking about where he would attend school and play lacrosse for the next four years. Stone decided that the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) had the best academic situation for him and will be a member of the Rensselaer Lacrosse team (Liberty League). Like all DIII lacrosse player, Stone will have to tryout for the team at the beginning of the season. Stone realizes that as a freshman it may be difficult to see a substantial amount of playing time. “I think for any incoming freshman its probably usually hard to play. So it’ll probably take a couple of years for me to get on the field. Maybe towards the end of sophomore year,” said Stone. 

J-DHS’s girls lacrosse program also produced another DIII athlete in senior captain and defender, Olivia Jasinski, who will be playing at Ithaca College next year. Jasinski committed to Ithaca in early March after weighing her options, which included Nazareth College, Lake Erie University, University of Rochester, and Salisbury College. Jasinski ultimately decided on Ithaca to pursue a program in physical therapy. “I knew I wanted to do P.T., so I looked at the schools that had it,” she says; “Ithaca had the best program for P.T. so I decided to go there.” Jasinski understands that with practices, the serious conditioning that her coach, Shannon McHale, will put her through, and school, she’ll have to balance her time well. “I’m going to be busy. But hopefully I’ll be able to time manage well and survive,” she says.

Lacrosse isn’t the only sport here at J-DHS with future DIII athletes amongst the team ranks. A possible future DIII athlete can be found in the outfield for the Red Rams Varsity Baseball team. Senior Captain Nick Austin is heading off to Brockport University with the chance to play for the Golden Eagles. Although Austin has decided on Brockport for school, he’s still not entirely sure if he will be playing baseball yet. “I’m talking to the coach right now about whether I’m gonna play or not,” said Austin. “But I’m most likely going to (play). The coach wants me to,” he added. Austin is only hesitant about playing due to the time commitment that the team demands. But, he also recognizes the upsides to being a part of the team. “It’ll be a better way to meet people and make friends,” he says; “it’ll be fun I think.”

Abe Davis will continue his tennis career at Oberlin College (member of the North Coast Athletic Conference). While searching for his perfect college, Davis had a specific list of requirements in mind. “At the beginning of my college process I realized I wanted to go to a smaller liberal arts college that had a DIII tennis program, where I could maybe major in some economics and double major in philosophy,” said Davis. He searched among schools like Skidmore College, Hobart and William Smith College, Bates College and Colgate University. But he found what he was looking for in Oberlin and committed there once he sent in his application as an early decision. “At Oberlin, it provides those opportunities, while still being able to play tennis,” he added. Davis also found the closeness of the members of the Oberlin tennis squad to be appealing. Oberlin not only met all of Davis’s requirements, but as an added bonus, Davis says he will have a starting position as a freshman. “Somewhere like Bates, or Skidmore, I might not have started right off the bat, and the only way to improve in tennis is to play every match,” said Davis.

Captain and guard on J-DHS’s Varsity Girls Basketball team, Kayleigh Cavanaugh has decided to take her talents to SUNY Geneseo next year. Cavanaugh also had the opportunity to play at Hamilton College and SUNY Cortland, amongst others. “Geneseo was the best fit academically for me and for basketball,” said Cavanaugh.