Nine Greenwich Academy student-athletes representing eight different sports paid an early morning visit to the school’s newly renovated Dining Hall Wednesday for a ceremony they had been eagerly awaiting.
Greenwich Academy held a ceremony honoring its senior athletes that signed National Letters of Intent to compete in collegiate athletics at the Division I and Division II level and paid tribute to its athletes planning to continue their careers as student-athletes in college.
Cameron Brower, who will play field hockey at Quinnipiac University, Maddie Holden, (Duke University lacrosse) and Evie Kay Girard (University of New Haven volleyball) each signed National Letters of Intent.
Recognized for their commitment to play their respective sport at the collegiate level were Ava Butz (Cornell University lacrosse), Josephine Genereux (University of Virginia golf), Mary Duffy (Stanford squash), Ellie Harned (Stanford sailing), Hutton Saunders (Columbia University swimming) and Whitney Wise (Princeton University crew).
Brower has played on Greenwich Academy’s varsity field hockey team since her freshman season and she’s had the opportunity to play for her mother, coach Jamie Brower. A midfielder, Brower has gained a wealth of experience from playing the sport at GA.
“The team definitely taught me about hard work and how valuable it could be when you have such good team chemistry and the girls that I have worked with have showed me the love for the game constantly,” said Brower, who is primed to begin her field hockey career at Quinnipiac.
“I’ve already met a lot of my teammates and they’re all so nice. I’m so excited to bring it to the next level,” said Brower, a midfielder. “Fitness-wise and playing-wise, it’s definitely a different game in college.”
Butz has been a mainstay on Greenwich Academy’s varsity lacrosse team since her freshman year. She has benefited from competing against the high-caliber opponents GA’s lacrosse team faces each spring.
“I have valued my time at GA lacrosse so much,” Butz said. “I love the coaches, the team is great. I love how our schedule has us playing the best teams in the country. GA has prepared me well for next year.”
Holden, a dynamic playmaker on GA’s lacrosse team the past several seasons, will begin testing her lacrosse skills for Duke in 2023.
“I’m so thrilled,” Holden said. “I’ve been working forever and I’m so excited that all the hard work paid off. I’m looking forward to the team. I’ve already met a few of them and I can’t wait to spend every day with them.”
Girard is in the midst of her fifth varsity season for Greenwich Academy. Like her mother, GA coach Christy Girard, she will play volleyball at the University of New Haven.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” said Girard, an outside hitter. “It was tough being recruited during COVID and all the eligible seniors in the NCAA having another year. I was interested in them when my mom told me about them, because she is an alum. I reached out to them in January and we just hit it off. I love coach (Christa) Cooper and I’m super, super excited.”
Indeed, Girard has grown up around Greenwich Academy volleyball.
“I’ve been here my whole life, it’s my 14th year and my fifth year on varsity,” Girard said. “I just think that working with my mom and the Greenwich Academy team has been a huge part of my life. GA has a great atmosphere for girls to come together as a team to work together and it allows us as a school to bond as teammates and with all the fans when they come to see you play. GA’s community is so much greater with the athletics.”
Saunders, who has helped spark Greenwich Academy’s highly successful swimming team, will soon showcase her skills at Columbia.
“I can’t put my excitement into words,” Saunders said. “It’s been a longtime coming and I am beyond excited. Columbia is exactly where I want to be. I knew when I was looking into colleges the Ivy league was where I wanted to be. I have a lot of friends in the league, so I’m looking forward to competing with them. The coaches are great the team environment is amazing, so I’m looking forward to that.”
The 100 and 200-yard freestyle and the 200 individual medley are among the events Saunders excels in over the years. She’s looking forward to having a full final season with the GA team, after the COVID-19 pandemic caused the 2020 season to be shortened.
“COVID has done its part in disrupting swimming, but the past year in a half we have been really resilient, with getting in training,” she said. “I am looking forward to having a normal season and for the high school season to start.”
Genereux will soon join a high-level University of Virginia golf team, after honing her skills at GA.
“It’s going to be awesome to compete against really good people and to be on a team with really good people,” Genereux said. “Virginia is awesome and GA has done a good job of preparing me for that and I’m super excited.”
She knows GA has prepared her well for her next chapter.
“Here at GA, we have access to great courses here and they really want to help you get better,” Genereux said. “The academics are so good and rigorous, so you’re really prepared for college academics.”
Duffy is part of Greenwich Academy’s squash team, which has won numerous U.S. High School national squash championships and is known as the premier high school program in the country. She’s played under the tutelage of GA coach Luke Butterworth for a number of years.
“For Luke, I’ve been attending his clinics since eighth grade,” Duffy said. “But when I was little in middle school, he coached the Connecticut Regional team, so when I had regionals, he coached me, so I’ve known him since I was 10 years old. He’s been amazing and he’s helped me a lot along the way.”
The Stanford-bound Duffy said she’s benefited from being on a GA team that has so many excellent squash players.
“It’s competitive to a point where we push each other and help each other grow and that’s part of the reason why we’re so good I think,” Duffy said. “The program has been awesome for team building and they give you a lot of resources when it comes to all the good people in the area. Also, Luke is a great coach.”