EAST ROCKHILL >> The friendly rivalry has already begun.
“It’s gonna be rough,” Jennifer Rodzewich said teasingly with a smile, speaking of how she’ll be playing against longtime teammate Madison Dachowski next year.
“I’ll be like ‘I know she’s a freshman but watch out for that girl,’” Dachowski chimed in.
Rodzewich, headed to Temple University, and Dachowski, set for La Salle, will be continuing their lacrosse careers on the Division I level next season, and are already stoked to be pitted against one another as part of an annual city rivalry.
“We know each other’s flaws and we know each other’s strengths,” Dachowski said. “I’m gonna miss her as a teammate but it’s gonna be great playing against her.”
The Pennridge duo was part of a collection of 10 Ram student-athletes that made their college commitments on Wednesday afternoon, all intent on taking their well-honed skills to the next level.
“My coaches developed me into a different person,” said the Rams’ Kellie Drugotch, who will play field hockey at DI Saint Francis. “If I didn’t play field hockey, I would be a totally different person than I am now.”
From field hockey to volleyball to soccer, baseball and lacrosse, from headers to spikes to curveballs, there was a wide variety of athletes rubbing shoulders in Pennridge’s gymnasium on Wednesday, all with their own special repertoire.
One common ingredient among them all was confidence.
“Last year, having him on the mound in a lot of big games,” Pennridge baseball coach Tom Nuneviller said of pitcher Andrew Mayhew, who is headed to DII Millersville, “he went out there in the District (1-AAAA) championship against Council Rock North and pitched his tail off. He was just tremendous.”
“He’s a competitor,” Nuneviller said of the right hander. “He’s confident and he’s very good.”
Postseason success has also been a big part of Ben Chinnici’s playing career at Pennridge. Chinnici’s towering presence and hard swings helped power the Rams to a District 1 title and a spot in the state semis last spring.
“The next four years are gonna be 10 hours away but a lot of busy work — it’s gonna be a lot of fun,” said Chinnici, who will be packing his bags for Indiana’s Ball State next fall. “The past four years of my high school and club career, I’ve been looking forward to playing at a Division I level.
“I’m looking forward to practices, getting into a rhythm,” Chinnici said, “and looking forward to some tough work there.”
The Pennridge girls soccer team, in the midst of a state-playoff run, had a party of five for Wednesday’s activities, as Kennedy Peace takes her speed to Hampton University (DI), Erin Stevenson makes the trip to The University of Maryland Baltimore County (DI), Melissa Lyon will be competing at nearby Drexel (DI), Savanna Harrison heads to Kutztown (DII) and Katie Fischer will make UNC-Charlotte (DI) her new home.
Coach Audrey Anderson has no doubt all five — and maybe more to come — will excel on the next level.
“The fact that they’re able to compete and play with some of the teams in our conference at the level they do is huge,” said Anderson, who soon hit the film room with her team, in preparation of Saturday’s PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinal matchup with Cumberland Valley. “I always say that some of the teams we play are comparable to college teams. And also, with these girls, it’s just the fight that they have on the field.”
Choosing the right college has a lot to do with choosing the right coach. Drugotch was plenty happy with her selection.
“I think the top thing that helped me was the coach,” she said of Stacey Bean, who guides the Red Flash. “She was so supportive and treated me like family. As soon as I got on campus and visited her in her office, I just knew.
“How she carried her team and supported her players, putting education first and then field hockey, it was just something I wanted in a coach.”
For some of the Pennridge athletes, next year’s cheering section will have a nice carryover from the one they had at Helman.
“My dad’s come to all my games since I was first playing lacrosse,” said Rodzewich, who is ready to be an Owl. “So I really wanted him to see me play.”
Top Photo: Ten Pennridge High School athletes signed their national letters of intent on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. Five are from the girls soccer team: seated from left, Katie Fisher (UNC-Charlotte), Kennedy Peace (Hampton University), Erin Stephenson (UMBC), Savanna Harrison (Kutztown), and Melissa Lyon (Drexel). Standing from left: Ben Chinici (Ball State), volleyball; Andrew Mayhew (Millersville), baseball; Kellie Drugotch (St. Francis), field hockey; Madison Dachowski (LaSalle) and Jennifer Rodzewich (Temple), field hockey). (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)