Fabulous four MC athletes sign offers
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
Given the choice, Manheim Central soccer player Kristin Robeson would play in midfield.
“I like the aspect of offense and defense at the same time,” she said.
Nate Henry, an All-Star for the Barons’ football team, leans toward defense.
“I played offensive tackle this past year,” he said, “but defense is definitely my preference.”
Henry will get his wish in college, as he will play defensive end at Bloomsburg University. Robeson could also get her first choice as she heads to Hofstra University (N.Y.) this fall to continue her athletic career.
Manheim Central’s Aerika High and Cole Proffitt are also fulfilling their goals with playing at the next level. High will take her softball talents to Wagner College (N.Y.), while Proffitt is headed to Penn State University to throw the javelin for the Nittany Lions’ track and field team.
All four signed on the dotted line during National Signing Day festivities in the Manheim Central High School Media Center on Wednesday, Feb. 6.
üHenry narrowed his final choices to a pair of Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Division-II schools in Bloomsburg and Shippensburg. The decision, he admitted, was not an easy one, but the 6-foot-3, 225-pound lineman is excited to be a member of the Huskies.
“Especially the campus and the whole football program, (Bloomsburg) just seemed like a fit for me,” Henry remarked.
Ship certainly made an impression on him when he visited on Jan. 26 and Henry was leaning toward taking the Red Raiders’ offer. But he toured Bloomsburg’s facilities after that, then gave it some long thought, and eventually committed to the Huskies.
“There were a lot of factors that pointed me toward Bloom,” said Henry, who plans to be a physics major. “The science department is much stronger at Bloomsburg, and the whole campus area, being in the mountains there by the Susquehanna, is my preference. Also, the football program and the facilities are top-notch there.”
“I don’t think (Nate and his family) can go wrong (with either Bloom or Ship),” Barons’ coach Mike Williams said. “Bloomsburg’s been one of the top teams in the PSAC. Ship hasn’t been, but now this last year they were and they got to the semi-finals in the national playoffs. I think he made a great choice.”
Henry had also been drawing interest from Division I-AA schools in the Ivy League and Patriot League at the end of his junior season. When things stalled with them, Henry shifted gears and was rewarded in the long run.
“Some parents will just hang on and and be disappointed,” Williams commented. “They said, ‘The heck with this. We’re not going to be disappointed. We’re going to find a great school for our son to go to.’ That was perfect. That’s the way everybody should do it.”
Marcus Zimmerman was the latest MC grad to play at Bloomsburg, a list which also includes Gary Fittery and Chris Thompson. In Henry, the Huskies will be getting a player that Williams describes as “very coachable.” He started his career with the Barons as a wide receiver/defensive back.
“(Nate)’s a smart player and he’s got good athleticism,” Williams said. “We had a need for an offensive tackle (last fall) and he filled right in. He just has that athleticism and coachability that he just fit in. He can run, he’s smart, he’s tough, he works hard. He’s a leader. He has all the attributes. He’s quite an impressive young man.”
üHigh, too, has all the attributes as a Division-One softball player. Last spring, High played her third different position in three seasons, and while stepping in at a key position (shortstop), she helped lead the Lady Barons to the PIAA State Final Four for the second year in a row.
So High could play anywhere on the field, right?
“Pretty much, except for pitcher,” she smiled.
Don’t look for Wagner College, located near Staten Island, N.Y., to use her on the hill. Manheim Central softball coach Steve Ginder believes she is best suited for the middle infield.
“I think she would do a very good job there … or even third base,” he said.
High has certainly done a very good job batting in the middle of the lineup for the Lady Barons, and that didn’t go unnoticed by the coaches at Wagner College.
“They said they saw videos of me and a picture of me hitting and they said they really liked what they saw in the picture,” High said. “So that helped me out a lot.”
The Lady Seahawks jumped at the opportunity to lock up High early on, offering her a scholarship when she visited in January of her junior year. Division-III Rosemont had also expressed interest and was offering her academic money, but High wanted to play at the Division-I level and she liked the location of the Wagner College campus.
“I’m excited because it’s close to the city (New York),” said High, a Second-Team All-State selection as a sophomore. “I didn’t want something in the city, but it’s nice being right outside the city … It’s a small school. I didn’t want something big at all. It was just one of the smaller schools I’ve been to and it was nice walking around it and everything. It had a beautiful view and it won me over while I was there.”
In fact, it left such an impression on High that she gave a verbal commitment to the Lady Seahawks before she even played her junior season at Manheim Central.
“There was no more worrying, like, ‘What college am I going to see this time?’ It was awesome,” High said.
“I think (it’s a good fit),” Ginder said. “She certainly works hard at it and has done a great job for us. I wish her the best of luck there.”
üThere is no doubt that Proffitt also works hard at his craft in the javelin. Penn State will get Manheim Central’s school-record holder in that event at 200-9, which not not only earned him the PIAA State bronze last spring, but also the United States’ number three ranking and Pennsylvania’s number two spot.
His two finalists were PSU and Virginia, but he also received an offer from Oregon. He was also attracting interest from Pitt, whose coach came to one of Proffitt’s football games last fall, North Carolina and Rutgers.
“It was a very tough decision,” said Proffitt, who also won the L-L League crown (200-7) and District bronze (191-0) as a junior. “It was a roller coaster the whole time. Just up and down emotionally, and you think you’ve got one school and you’re going there and then you go and visit another school and then it’s that school. And you get offers and that changes it again. It kinda boiled down to Virginia and Penn State and I’m very happy with my decision.”
Proffitt made his first official visit to Virginia right after the football season ended. Then it was Penn State, when he saw the Nittany Lions’ football team defeat Wisconsin 24-21 in late November.
“It was an awesome game,” he said.
Oregon was his final visit. Ultimately, though, the Ducks were the first ones to be eliminated.
“The distance, it was just too much,” Proffitt said.
The fact that Penn State has an excellent reputation in the major (kinesiology) that Proffitt wants to study made a big difference. It didn’t hurt either that Penn State’s coach made a personal visit to the Proffitt’s home to present a scholarship offer to him.
“I thought that was awesome,” he said. “It just showed me a lot about the coach that he came to my house and actually sat down with us. He kinda talked about some things that I missed at Penn State, so that was good … The campus is awesome and the sciences there are just unsurpassable. They’re great. They have a great track program. They won their indoor meet (Sakes and Sawbuck Challenge Cup) that I was at on Saturday (Feb. 2). It was just the best fit for me.”
At 6-foot-4, 186 pounds, Proffitt is also a great fit for a college thrower.
“They definitely love the height because the longer you have with your arms, then you have more feet to add to your throw,” he said. “And they also liked the fact that I was throwing in the 200′s off a five step, which (translates to) a lot of improvement. And obviously, I have a lot of weight I can put on.”
If all goes well, Proffitt is hoping to qualify for the Olympic Trials in 2016.
“That would be awesome,” he said. “It’s obviously the long-term goal in track, and my last goal. But (my goals) are the NAACO’s and Big 10′s and just scoring a lot of points for the team. I grew up going to those (football) games and I just can’t wait.”
üRobeson can’t wait to get her college career started at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. She will join a Lady Pride team that advanced to the Colonial Athletic Association championship game and then to the NCAA Tournament this past fall before ending their season with an 11-9-2 record.
She had also been talking with Francis Marion University (S.C.), UNC-Charlotte and Youngstown State University (Ohio). But Hofstra was her first choice.
“I received an offer from Hofstra and I took that one because I liked that school so much better,” said Robeson, who is currently undecided on her major. “I loved it. It’s the perfect fit for me. They’re a really good soccer program and they’ve been for the past few years, The coach (Simon Riddiough) is what I was looking for and what I liked. He gives you some free reign.”
The Pride will certainly be glad to welcome Robeson’s athleticism to the program, something she has shown while also playing basketball at Manheim Central. She has gained a lot of experience playing in the midfield in high school, but time will tell what position she plays at Hofstra.
“(Riddiough) said either an outside mid or an outside defender, which I never played,” she said. “Usually, you form into a new type of player when you go to college. So I don’t know what I’m going to play.”
Robeson is confident, however, that she can make a smooth transition to playing college soccer.
“I think I can handle it because our club team is like, pressure, pressure about stuff,” she said. “(Club coach) Mike McHugh has been preparing us forever for that. We have at least four tournaments in the spring and we’re playing U19, U20 (teams) to play against older girls so we get a feel for that.” More RECRUITS, page B-4