SOUTH KINGSTOWN — Five student-athletes from The Prout School made their college commitments official in a ceremony at the school last Wednesday.
Addy Douglas will play golf at Lehigh, Alexandra Miko-Rydzaj will swim at Fairfield, Jake Moniz is set to play lacrosse at Assumption College, Vanessa Oatley will join the softball team at Penn State, and Emma Slade will play soccer at Stonehill.
The college-bound Crusaders signed National Letters of Intent or letters of commitment in the gym, with family, friends, coaches and classmates looking on.
“We are so very proud of these student-athletes who not only demonstrate great athletic talent, but also take an active role in the Prout community,” said Prout athletic director Andrew Bevilacqua. “They are well-prepared to excel in college.”
Douglas, a Newport resident, has been a fixture on the high school and amateur golf scene in recent years. She was the runner-up in the high school girls state tournament last season a year after she became the youngest champion in the history of the Rhode Island Women’s Amateur.
Growing up playing golf and lacrosse, Douglas settled on golf at Prout and set her sights on the collegiate level. With the commitment to Lehigh, a Division I program, she achieved her objective.
“It was probably my biggest goal, to play Division I golf,” Douglas said. “After I committed, it’s like, ‘OK, I achieved the goal, so what now?’ Going into college, I’m going to work really hard and try to be at the top of their league. It’s about making new goals.”
Miko-Rydzaj, of Narragansett, is set for the D-I swimming ranks at Fairfield, where she’ll continue a strong career. She has won state titles in the breaststroke for two straight years and is a team captain for the upcoming season. She chose Fairfield for its swimming program and for its school of nursing and health studies.
“I want to major in nursing so I started looking at schools because of their nursing programs and their facilities,” Miko-Rydzaj said. “The first thing I looked at was whether they had a state-of-the-art facility with new technology, and Fairfield had that. That was the biggest factor, and swimming came kind of second. But as soon as I met the team, they were so welcoming. They’re like a family. That’s something I really wanted to be part of.”
Moniz, who hails from Saunderstown, plays basketball and lacrosse for the Crusaders. Early success with the Prout lacrosse team made the sport his focus. It will now define his next step at Assumption, a D-II program that happens to be the alma mater of both his parents.
“All along, I kind of knew I wanted to play lacrosse in college,” he said. “I was exploring schools early and both my parents graduated from Assumption, so right away, the interest was there. I toured the school, had a great prospect day and felt right in place with the team.”
Oatley had been eagerly awaiting Wednesday’s ceremony for years. The Richmond resident verbally committed to play softball at Penn State almost exactly four years ago.
“When I went out there for the first time, I was just like, ‘Wow, this place is incredible,” Oatley said.
After starting her high school career at Chariho, she transferred to Prout last year and starred in the spring, cementing herself as one of the state’s top pitchers and leading the Crusaders to the Division II championship. She also had a memorable summer, pitching for the Georgia Impact travel team that won a national championship.
“Making it official is a dream come true but also a weight off my shoulders,” Oatley said. “I’ve been kind of anxiously anticipating it, where I didn’t want to get hurt or anything like that. I really want to be officially going there.”
Slade, of West Kingston, has been a four-year contributor for the Prout girls soccer team, earning first-team all-division honors each of the past two seasons. She led the team in goals and assists this season. She also competes in indoor track and plays softball for the Crusaders.
Soccer was her choice for the collegiate level, and the chance to be part of a successful program at Stonehill – the team has qualified for the NCAA Tournament in two of the last three seasons – was a major draw.
“I had other schools I was looking at and I didn’t know which one was the right fit, but as soon as I visited campus, I got that home feeling,” Slade said. “The team felt like a family. The soccer program has been so good over the last few years. Going into a program that’s been successful was a big thing for me.”
The Crusader signees are set to graduate in the spring and begin their collegiate careers next fall.