BERLIN — Surrounded by coaches, parents and dozens of teammates, three Berlin High School’s most students signed letters of intent to continue their athletic careers at the college level.
Patty Mroczkowski will be joining University of Connecticut’s track and field team, quarterback Kevin Dunn will be moving on to Sacred Heart University’s team and Gianni Fanelli has earned a spot on Assumption College’s baseball team.
House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin and coach of the football team, said participating in supports during a busy time in their lives was an accomplishment.
"Being a student athlete is very difficult, especially in the high school,” he said. “You're pulled in many different directions, but you really have to stick with you. You have to commit yourself beyond what the normal students does and you all have done that.”
Despite no prior experience at the position, Dunn stepped up to play quarterback his junior season after some players left the team, Aresimowicz said. He credit Dunn, who guided the team to consecutive state playoff births and an appearance in the championship game this year, with working hard to develop.
“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.”
Lindsay Fanelli, Gianni Fanelli’s mother, said the ceremony was just as impactful for parents like herself who shuttled kids to practice and watched from the sidelines.
"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.
Track Coach Steve Soucy said Mroczkowski is among the best track performers in the country, having come in 7th 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 that last 10 to 12 hours, have to show determination during competitions and throughout 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.”