Surrounded by coaches, parents and dozens of teammates, three Berlin High School students signed letters of intent to continue their athletic careers at the college level.
Patty Mroczkowski will be joining the University of Connecticut’s track and field team, quarterback Kevin Dunn will be moving on to the Sacred Heart University football team and Gianni Fanelli has earned a spot on the Assumption College baseball team.
House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, also the BHS football coach, said participating in sports during a busy time in a high school student’s life is an accomplishment in itself.
"Being a student-athlete is very difficult, especially in high school,” he said. “You're pulled in many different directions, but you really have to stick with it. You have to commit yourself beyond what the normal student does, and you all have done that.”
Dunn guided Berlin to consecutive state playoff berths and an appearance in the 2018 championship game.
Despite having no prior experience at the position, Dunn stepped up to play quarterback his junior season after some players left the team.
“Dedicated himself to the team, wasn't even sure if he wanted to be a quarterback most of the time, but then he really took to it,” Aresimowicz said. “His junior year he broke the Berlin High record in passing yards and then he came back for a senior year where he really was the man in charge of the team.”
BHS track coach Steve Soucy said Mroczkowski is among the best track performers in the country, having placed seventh in this year’s New Balance National Championship in New York City.
"She had many, many opportunities and for her to choose UConn is equally good for UConn. She's going to be one of their top athletes," he said.
Soucy said track athletes, who can be at meets for 10 to 12 hours, have to show determination and focus during competitions and in their training. “To become really good at football, you have to play football. To become good at tennis, you have to play tennis,” he said. “But for track and field it's really about strength and conditioning and diet, making sure that you're eating enough to stay at full energy levels. So there's a lot of little things that in track become magnified and more important, especially at the level Pat is in.”
Lindsay Fanelli, Gianni Fanelli’s mother, said the signing ceremony was just as impactful for parents like herself who shuttled kids to practice and watched from the sidelines for years. "It's just a very proud moment for us all. He's come so far, watching him evolve and get here is a great moment," she said.
She said being a part of the baseball team has made her son more confident and given him a great opportunity.
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