LANSDALE >> When it came to deciding on a college, Ryan Quigley was pretty much a blank slate.
“Ever since I was growing up — I remember the memories of when I was little — I did not know where I want to go,” the Lansdale Catholic senior said. “I did not know where I want to go in the country, what I wanted to major in. I had no idea to do until I started narrowing things down.”
With Quigley focusing on football more the past two years, his future plans began to fill in and ultimately an Ivy League education appealed to the two-time Philadelphia Catholic League Class AA Division MVP, as he committed to Princeton University.
“Academics came first to me along with football program. I love the guys on the team. Coach Bob Surace, he’s a fantastic guy, the head coach at Princeton,” said Quigley of the Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) side. “They treat me well, they’re very nice to the guys, it’s a great academic program, it’s close to home, and it was a beautiful, beautiful campus. I couldn’t be more happier with my decision.”
Wednesday, Quigley was one of 12 Crusader student-athletes from six different sports celebrated their college choices at a press conference held in the school’s Resource Center.
Softball had the largest continent with three athletes – Alessandra Messina heading to La Salle University, Ashley Seal to West Chester University and Shannon Hill to DeSales University.
“I got to give it to coach (Paul) Suder, he’s got a great program for years now,” Seal said. “It doesn’t surprise me that three of us signed.”
The football team’s other signing was Marlen Fenstermacher, who opted to attend Franklin and Marshall University.
“I picked F&M because I thought they had a really good group of guys and they all invited me in on my visits,” Fenstermacher said.
Girls basketball had two players sign National Letters of Intent – Taylor Herd to Quinnipiac University and Kim Talley to the University of New Haven. LC golf also had a pair, with Jack Bagnell set to attend Ursinus College and Nick Kuhn going to Moravian College.
Swimmer Cassidy Fries announced her signing to the University of Rhode Island, girls volleyball’s Kelly Piotrowicz decided to attend Ursinus College while Nick Smalley is continuing his baseball career at Chestnut Hill College.
Fries, set to compete in the 100 breaststroke in the PIAA Class AA Championships Saturday, is looking to juggle a nursing major with her time in the pool. While this was a problem at some schools, URI – which competes in the Atlantic 10 Conference – had no problem with Fries pursuing it.
“It was really important to me when I was picking a college cause some coaches flat-out told me that I wasn’t allowed to be a nursing major and be on the team. So when Mick (Westkott), my coach and said to me ‘Listen, you can do whatever you want, nursing is fine.’ That was basically it, it sealed the deal.”
Herd was an all-Philadelphia Catholic League second-team selection as a sophomore in 2013-2014, but tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her right knee twice to miss her junior and senior seasons with the LC girls hoops team. Quinnipiac remaining committed to her through the injuries was a big reason Herd chose the Bobcats, who reached the NCAA Tournament in 2015.
“It was definitely a different recruiting process for me, but the reason I picked Quinnipiac is because they never lost faith and trust in me that I could work back,” she said. “And because of that and the faith they put in me, and the trust that they that I’ll be on the court next year was ultimately why I chose the college, Quinnipiac University.”
Quinnipiac won the Metro-Atlantic Athletic Association (MAAC) regular-season title this season but fell to Iona in the conference’s title game.
Despite not being on the court the last two years, Herd made sure to remain a committed member of the Crusader program.
“I wish I was on the court with them, but I was happy to get the opportunity to be on the bench and try to be a leader from that position,” she said. “And as captain I had to uphold my duty of making sure the team was motivated and everything. I really have coach (Joe) Mack and the coaching staff of LC basketball to thank for that, for keeping me involved.”
Herd’s teammate, Talley, will be close by at the University of New Haven with the two Nutmeg State schools about 20 minutes apart. Talley helped the Crusaders finish 10-14 and reach the PCL quarterfinals.
“The reason I chose New Haven was because I felt I could connect with the coach on a really personal level and on the court,” said Talley, who plans to major in dental hygiene. “And it really was a welcoming atmosphere.”
For Seal, a right-handed pitcher for LC softball, attending West Chester always seemed to be in her future.
“Honestly, I wanted to go there since I was younger,” said Seal, who is looking to be a biology major. “The school gives off a good vibe. And the team is just incredible – the girls are incredible. I did an overnight there and I just fell in love with the school.
Seal is working back from the rotator cuff surgery she had in November and is hopeful to get back on the field for her senior campaign as the Crusaders look to win their third-straight District 12 AAA title.
Messina picked La Salle for what it offered both academically and location-wise.
“I chose La Salle because I really like their nursing program and it’s close to home so my parents can watch me play,” she said. “I’m really excited.”
LC softball’s third signee, Hill, is heading up to the Lehigh Valley to play for the Division III Bulldogs of DeSales.
“I’m going there because I really like the family atmosphere,” Hill said. “I think they have a lot to offer.”
Bagnell and Kuhn helped the LC golf team win its second straight District 12-AA title, with Kuhn reaching the AA individual state tournament.
“I chose Moravian because they have great athletics and it’s a small school – it’s a family atmosphere, similar to LC,” said Kuhn, who wants to major in criminal justice.
Bagwell, meanwhile, was one of two Crusaders heading to Collegeville for the next four years.
“I chose Ursinus because they have a lot of things that I want to do,” he said. I really like the golf coach and the teammates.”
Piotrowicz will also be attending Ursinus after earning All-District 12 AA first team honors as a setter last year as LC girls volleyball reached the PCL semifinals.
“The coach had a lot to offer me and I really liked the group of girls,” Piotrowicz said.
Smalley was an All-PCL infielder his junior season as the Crusaders qualified for the league playoffs.
“I chose Chestnut Hill because I love the coach there,” he said. “I love the atmosphere, the kids were (welcoming). I love the baseball team there.”
Along with being the Division MVP, Quigley — who is eyeing either financial engineering or economics at Princeton — was an All-PCL AA first-team pick at running back and defense back in 2015. Fenstermacher was a division first-team selection at punter and defensive back as Lansdale Catholic went 8-3 and won its first-ever PCL playoff game.
“It was the farthest we’ve ever gone in the PCL and I try to tell the guys every day that I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Quigley said. “Some of them are the best friends that I’ll stay in contact with for the rest of my life.
“We definitely made a great run and I wish we could just play one more game together because it truly was a family atmosphere. It was a lot more than just the game of football playing with these guys.”