Eight Mounts select colleges

By on February 25, 2015
Ephrata’s Katie Hammaker will play field hockey at Brown University. (Photo by Mike Shull)

Ephrata’s Katie Hammaker will play field hockey at Brown University. (Photo by Mike Shull)

Some kids want to get as far away from home as they can when choosing a college. Others are just the opposite, opting to stay within a short driving distance away from Mom and Dad.

Ephrata senior Kyle Lindberg chose the latter approach when making his selection to play college lacrosse at nearby Alvernia College in Berks County, but it was more for practical reasons than anything else.

“I’m not good at doing laundry so Reading is close in case I need some help from my mom when I’m there,” he said.

Back on February 4, Lindberg, along with seven other Ephrata High School senior student-athletes, signed their National Letters of Intent in a ceremony in front of friends and family at the school.

Lindberg, a lacrosse player, is one of three members of the EHS boys lax squad who plans to play in college. His teammate Justin Hoover announced he will play his college lax at Albright while Austin Sensenig stated he will attend Delaware Valley College next fall.

Two EHS athletes will take their talents to the Division One level. Ephrata field hockey goalie Kate Hammaker is headed to Brown University while Kelly Liebl, a three-sport star in high school, will attend St. Joseph’s in Philadelphia where she’ll run track.

Girls volleyball player Katelyn Weaver is headed to Division Two Millersville while field hockey player Morgan Weaver will attend Division Three York College and boys soccer player Mario Murcia will continue his playing career at Goucher College in Baltimore, which is also a Division Three institution.

Hammaker, a two-time all-state goalkeeper, will take her considerable talents to Brown after looking at other programs such as Harvard and Old Dominion.

In the end, an Ivy League education and joining a field hockey program that is on the upswing was too good to pass up.

Ephrata seniors who announced their college choices on National Signing Day included (left to right): Katie Hammaker, Justin Hoover, Kelly Liebl, Kyle Lindberg, Mario Murcia, Austin Sensenig, Morgan Weaver and Katelyn Witwer. (Photo by Mike Shull)

Ephrata seniors who announced their college choices on National Signing Day included (left to right): Katie Hammaker, Justin Hoover, Kelly Liebl, Kyle Lindberg, Mario Murcia, Austin Sensenig, Morgan Weaver and Katelyn Witwer. (Photo by Mike Shull)

“I chose Brown because of their academics, and because all of their programs are very strong,” she said. “The coaches are real energetic and really do a lot for the program. They are building it from the ground up and I’m real excited to be a part of a team that comes to work hard and comes to win. It’s just a big family.”

Hammaker, who will study elementary and special education, admitted she was a little nervous at first when considering such a top-notch academic institution.

“It actually really intimidated me at first,” she said. “Near the beginning of my college search I kind of ruled them out because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep up academically. But after I talked to the coaches I learned I would be accepted into the Ivy League and play for an Ivy League program, it gave me a lot of confidence that I would be able to and that if I wanted to I could do it. I’m ready for that challenge.”

As far as the program itself, Brown is coming off its first winning season in seven years. Hammaker is excited to be joining a program that’s on the rise.

“This past year with their winning season, it just goes to show how the coaches are pushing the team members and how hard they are pushing them to become better individually and better as a team,” she said. “They are just really putting in a lot of extra work in order to do what they need to do to be successful.”

As for her goals in college, Hammaker would obviously like to get on the field sooner rather than later. But also wants to make a difference in other people’s lives.

“My goals for my college career are to strengthen myself mentally, and to learn that it takes a lot of hard work to realize your goals and dreams,” she said. “I just really want to become somebody that someone can look up to and set a good example for those around me, whether it be on the field or off the field. I just want to inspire people and let them know they can also achieve their dreams.”

Perhaps the biggest hurdle Liebl was facing was trying to decide which sport she would play collegiately.

She recently became just the seventh girl in Ephrata girls basketball history to reach the 1,000-career scoring mark, and this past fall helped lead her girls soccer team to a State berth. And of course she also excels in track and field.

Last spring as a junior, Liebl, a sprinter and a jumper, won the gold medal in the 100 meter dash at the District Three Meet and went on to place eighth in the State in that event.

Clearly, she had choices but in the end, there were more options for her in track and field where she could get some scholarship money to defray some of the costs.

“I realized at the end of last year I started to get a lot more attention for my track and field than I was for basketball,” she said. “I really had to reach out to a lot of the basketball coaches, and I realized I wasn’t going to get as much financially with basketball as I would for track. That to me is really important because I don’t want to be out of college and have a lot of debt to pay off. If someone is willing to help pay for my education, that meant a lot to me.”

So after considering her options, she chose St. Joseph after taking a visit to the Philadelphia campus last summer.

“The first time I went there, it just felt like home,” she said. “I felt so comfortable there. It was during the summer so there weren’t other students around so I got to see the campus empty. It just seemed right for me. I loved the big buildings and the beautiful scenery there. It just really attracted me to the campus.”

Liebl, who will major in either economics or financial planning, said she equally enjoys jumping and sprinting but will probably concentrate on the latter in college.

“Jumping is so fun but I don’t know if I’d be as good at the Division One level as I was in high school,” she said. “The good thing is the coach really likes to leave it up to what the athlete wants to do. He feels if they want to do it, they will do well in it. If it’s something that he makes them do, they may not do as well in it so he likes to leave it up to the athlete to decide. I’m excited for that.”

She’s also excited for the next chapter in her life, on and off the track.

“I really just want to experience the college life and learn new things about myself that I wasn’t able to find in high school,” she said. “I want to find new interests and meet new people, and I’m real excited for this new opportunity to open up new options and figure out what I want to do in life.”

For Witwer, who will study elementary/special education, she wanted to go to a place with excellent academics and a competitive volleyball program. She feels she found the best of both worlds in Millersville.

“I looked at a lot of Division Two colleges,” she said. “Clarion and Lock Haven, ones that are around here, are not too far away because we have great State schools in Pennsylvania, but Millersville was definitely my number one though. They have amazing teaching curriculum, all over, not just for special and elementary education.

“They are pretty high up on the compete level with all of the other teams in the PSAC…it’s a great skills team. And they are going to push me to be the best player I can be.”

Witwer, who is one of the top players in the L-L League, said she plans to work hard from Day One and hopefully earn a regular spot in the lineup.

“I play on the outside and all the way around but we’ll just have to work through it and see how it goes. There are a lot of great players so I’m going to have to work hard to earn my position,” she said.

Weaver, who will major in respiratory care, considered playing at the Division One level, looking at St. Francis University. But in the end, the Division Three level fit what she was looking for and she chose York while also considering Messiah and Eastern College.

“Their program is just really good for what I wanted to do,” Weaver said when asked what drew her to York. “It’s one of the top schools for my major so that was the biggest factor why I chose to go there.”

Field hockey-wise, York is getting a diverse performer who can play any position on the field.

“I can play pretty much anywhere they want to put me,” she said. “I just really like the team and really like the coaches as well. It was real easy to talk to them and I got along with them better than any other team that I visited.”

Sensenig, a top attacker on Ephrata’s highly-successful boys lacrosse squad, considered both Lebanon Valley College and York before making his selection of Delaware Valley, which will play its inaugural season of lacrosse this spring.

There, he will major in athletic training and look to help build a program from the ground up.

“I went there on an overnight visit and all of the teammates were just really cool,” he said. “I just connected with everybody, the coaching staff…all of them were real nice to me. I just connected with them right away and it just felt like a great fit.”

Hoover, Ephrata’s reigning Offensive Player of the Year and a first team all-star, decided on Albright after considering York College and the University of Jacksonville.

In the end, he felt his game and style fit at Albright, which started its program just four years ago.

“I really liked the Division Three level and the conference they play in…it’s very competitive,” he said. “Hopefully I’m going to be getting to play sooner rather than later, plus it’s close the home, which was a factor. And the program reminds me a lot of like Ephrata’s.”

Hoover said he will study business management at the school located in Reading.

“In the future, my goal is to start up my own business,” he said. “I just really want to open up my own body shop and it would be a great opportunity to get a four-year degree in that.”

Lindberg said he considered Georgian Court, a small Division Two school in New Jersey, as well as Virginia Military Institute before deciding to stay closer to home at Alvernia.

I just liked the family-feel there,” he said of Alvernia. “The academics are really good and just what the coach has planned for the next few years, I thought it would be fun to be a part of…to take a program to the next level.”

Lindberg will major in sports management with a minor in coaching, and would like to be an athletic director some day.

In the meantime, he’ll hope to contribute to lacrosse program that is looking to rebound from a 2-15 season a year ago.

“My goal is to go there and try to start from Day One, and help the team start turning around,” he said. “We have a good class coming in so hopefully we’ll help them start to win some games.”

Murcia, a versatile soccer player who will major in international relations, said he considered other Division Three schools such as Eastern Mennonite, Goshen and Lynchburg before honing in on Goucher.

Academics played a key role in his decision.

“There were only a few small schools who had my major,” he explained. “I just liked Goucher because I really connected with the freshmen when I went to camp there. The coach is really nice… I just really felt at home there.”

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