Marc Narducci: For athletes and parents, signing day fulfills a dream

Highland senior Melissa Blevins , who has been playing soccer since she was 4, is flanked by her parents, Michelle and Terrance. Melissa will sign a soccer letter of intent to Seton Hall. Her father called the occasion "a bittersweet day."
Highland senior Melissa Blevins , who has been playing soccer since she was 4, is flanked by her parents, Michelle and Terrance. Melissa will sign a soccer letter of intent to Seton Hall. Her father called the occasion "a bittersweet day." (MARC NARDUCCI / Staff)
Posted: February 01, 2012

Wednesday is truly a family day around South Jersey and throughout the country. So many talented student athletes will make their immediate future known by signing a national letter of intent, a reward for their talent, perseverance, and dedication.

The national signing day is Wednesday, and as usual, there will be an abundance of signatures coming from South Jersey.

Many student athletes, such as Melissa Blevins of Highland, have known their decision for some time, but it won't lessen the joy she feels when she finally applies her signature to the letter. Blevins made an oral commitment in December 2010 to attend Seton Hall, where she will play soccer.

"I thought this day would never come," she said.

And now it's here.

"It's nice," she said. "I have been playing soccer since I was 4 years old, and to get something out of it is a big accomplishment."

Imagine how her parents feel.

Parents tend to get more sentimental at a time like this. It is a time to remember all the car rides to games, to tournaments, in New Jersey, out of state. The calendar was always full, and many parents wouldn't have it any other way, rearranging their schedules to see as many games as possible.

That was certainly the case with Terrance and Michelle Blevins, Melissa's parents.

Terrance coached his daughter in her early years and continued to watch her grow, as a soccer player and a person.

"It is a bittersweet day," Terrance said of signing day. "They grow up so fast."

As fast as the memories are accumulated.

"I don't think it has really sunk in that my little girl is leaving me," Terrance said. "I couldn't be prouder of her."

For Melissa Blevins' parents and many out there, this is their day also to celebrate and enjoy a moment or two of introspection.

"I don't know the words to explain, I am so ecstatic for her and happy that this is finally here," Michelle Blevins said.

The parents didn't want to influence their daughter's decision, but privately they were hoping that she would choose a school relatively close to home.

Imagine their reaction when they found out they wouldn't have to leave the state to continue following her games.

"I would be attending her games no matter where she played, but this is great for us and we're happy most of all because it's such a good school," her mother said.

Melissa Blevins has the dream of any recruit, to excel on the field. She also has her academic priorities in order.

She is looking to major in criminal justice with the goal of one day working for the FBI.

Blevins liked what she saw from the school and soccer program and saw no reason to delay her decision.

Recruiting can be a pressurized time for youngsters, and once she made the decision, she felt the typical sense of relief that engulfs most student athletes.

On Wednesday, just like her parents, there will be a sense of pride when she signs that letter of intent. A lifetime of work, symbolized by one signature on a piece of paper.

"I have been waiting for this day a long time," Melissa said.

So have her parents.

For them, their little girl is moving and the memories accumulated to reach this point are worth even more than any scholarship can provide.


Marc Narducci: South Jersey College Commitments

Commitments for field hockey, boys' and girls' soccer, and boys' and girls' track, the sports in which athletes may sign letters of intent on Wednesday. This list is for players attending Division I or II schools. (Ivy League schools don't sign a letter of intent, but are included.) Football commitments appear on pages C8-9. E-mail any additions to Marc Narducci at mnarducci@phillynews.com.

Field Hockey

Player   High school   College   

Emily Arnot   Shawnee   Delaware   

Alana Barry   Eastern   Iowa   

Alexa Branco   Clearview   Delaware   

Carolynn Clark   Haddonfield   Villanova   

Liz Cruz   Ocean City   Columbia   

Zenee Gadson   Glassboro   Ball State   

Rebecca Holden   Lower Cape May   Virginia   

Rachel Ippolite   Kingsway   Rider   

Megan Johnston   Haddonfield   Penn   

Madison Jung   Eastern   Harvard   

Rachel Lombardi   Cherokee   Longwood   

Julia Osisek   Eastern   James Madison   

Victoria Radwell   Shawnee   Michigan State   

Ali Stever   Ocean City   Rutgers   

Abby Watson   Shawnee   Bucknell   

Girls' Soccer

Tara Ballay   Delran   Rider   

Rebecca Barb   Kingsway   Nova Southeastern   

Alexa Bergey   Kingsway   Philadelphia U.   

Dana Bernetich   Bishop Eustace   Richmond   

Melissa Blevins   Highland   Seton Hall   

Victoria Cocozza   Cinnaminson   Mount St. Mary's   

Devin Dougherty   Gloucester Catholic   Old Dominion   

Kelly Farrell   Timber Creek   Old Dominion   

Rebecca Forcellini   Cinnaminson   UNC-Charlotte   

Janae Genonnetti   Paul VI   St. Joseph's   

Melanie Gilatto   Clearview   Catawba   

Erica Graziosi   Paul VI   St. Joseph's   

Emily Hansinger   Bishop Eustace   Seton Hall   

Colleen Howard   Holy Cross   Monmouth   

Rachel Jackson   Cherokee   West Chester   

Alexandra Johnson   Bishop Eustace   Delaware   

Katie Johnston   Haddonfield   William & Mary   

Jordan Jones   Winslow Township   Old Dominion   

Kelly Kane   Gloucester Catholic   East Stroudsburg   

Regina Kelly   West Deptford   Lenior-Rhyne   

Courtney Kovac   Lenape   UNC-Wilmington   

Taylor Lewis   Willingboro   Tusculum   

Shelby Lyon   Seneca   West Virginia   

Patrice Maro   Haddon Township   Philadelphia U.   

Olivia McEachern   Timber Creek   St. Joseph's   

Kim Nale   Cherokee   Kutztown   

Ashley Nolan   Holy Cross   Bloomfield   

Brittany Ratcliffe   Paul VI   Virginia   

Loren Reilley   Paul VI   UNC-Charlotte   

Katie Rigby   Lenape   Utah   

Alexis Robinson   Absegami   Catawba   

Courtney Rosu   Hammonton   Western Carolina   

Erica Skroski   Absegami   Rutgers   

Kelsey Tierney   Absegami   Iona   

Shannon Westhead   Lenape   St. Joseph's   

Boys' Soccer

Greg Biggiani   Shawnee   Lafayette   

Bobby Briggs   Lenape   La Salle   

Angelo Dambalas   Cherokee   Philadelphia U.   

Andrew Garcia   Timber Creek   St. Francis (Pa.)   

Sonimi Halliday   Timber Creek   Rider   

Nick Savino   Moorestown   UC Santa Barbara   

Ryan Schroy   Shawnee   Philadelphia U.   

Girls' Track

Holly Bischof   Bishop Eustace   Duke   

Madeline Hummel   Holy Cross   Rider   

Dina Iacone   Washington Twp.    Cornell   

Maria Jimenez   Vineland   Monmouth   

Megan Kirschling   West Deptford   Elon   

Tracey Masterson   Mainland   Monmouth   

Boys' Track

Darrell Bush   Woodbury   LSU   

Isaac Williams   Willingboro   Houston   

- Marc Narducci


Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at mnarducci@phillynews.com, 856-779-3225 or @sjnard on Twitter. Find his Rally columns at www.philly.com/narducci

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