Chapel Hill: Sports

National Signing Day: local athletes commit to colleges

Left to right: East Chapel Hill High graduating athletes Ellis Llewellyn (men's lacrosse); Ellie Richardson (field hockey); Marisa Creatore (field hockey); Annie Carter (volleyball); Sarena Seelbach (volleyball); Danielle Amer (volleyball); Morgan Smith (swimming); and Michael Wohl (swimming) in a group photo during signing day Thursday at East Chapel Hill.
Left to right: East Chapel Hill High graduating athletes Ellis Llewellyn (men's lacrosse); Ellie Richardson (field hockey); Marisa Creatore (field hockey); Annie Carter (volleyball); Sarena Seelbach (volleyball); Danielle Amer (volleyball); Morgan Smith (swimming); and Michael Wohl (swimming) in a group photo during signing day Thursday at East Chapel Hill. hlynch@newsobserver.com

Several local athletes took advantage of "National Signing Day" last Thursday to make official their commitments to their chosen college programs.

East Chapel Hill hosted a short ceremony for eight Wildcats, their classmates and parents. At Chapel Hill, Jessica Wall, a member of the Tigers' undefeated state basketball champions, signed her pact with UNC-Asheville.

Oral commitments are not binding on athletes or college teams. The national letters formalize the commitment of a student-athlete to an NCAA program.

"Signing Day" actually is just the first day of a window of opportunity for athletes to commit in the first semester of their senior year. This season's early NLI signing period for most sports is Nov. 12-19, but football and soccer hold their initial NLI signing periods Feb. 3 through April 1. A "regular period" for all other sports follows April 15 through Aug. 1.

Not every local athlete opted to hold a signing ceremony on the first day of the early signings. Wall's Chapel Hill teammate Raziyah Farrington has committed to Western Carolina University but opted to wait until this Wednesday to participate in a signing ceremony at CHHS.

At East Chapel Hill, last Thursday’s signees included three volleyball players, two players from the Wildcats' 11-time field hockey program, two swimmers and lacrosse player Ellis Llewellyn (Franklin & Marshall).

East's Marissa Creatore signed to play field hockey across town at the University of North Carolina, while Ellie Richardson is heading to Longwood University.

East volleyball player Sarena Seelbach made some history by being the first local female athlete to commit to the Naval Academy. Teammates Danielle Amer and Annie Carter are headed to Wheaton and Clemson, respectively.

“I wanted to go there for the challenge of being a leader, and for the ideas of duty, honor and serving my country,” Seelbach said.

“I went to volleyball camp at Navy over the summer and later went back for my official visit, and I just loved it,” she said.

Seelbach received a “blue chip” offer from the Midshipmen’s volleyball program, the closest the Naval Academy can come to making a scholarship offer. It commits the program to prioritizing her for a formal appointment, which must come from the president or a member of Congress.

Seelbach is anticipating an appointment to the academy this month.

East swimmer Morgan Smith signed with Duquesne, while Michael Wohl, a silver medalist at the Maccabiah Games, signed for Johns Hopkins.

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