On Feb. 3, six 12th-grade Spartans signed National Letters of Intent to continue their sport collegiately next fall. Athletic Director Jon McCain was thrilled that all of the hard work of these impressive student-athletes has paid off.
“These athletes have not only dedicated their time and energy to performing well in classrooms on The Hill, but they also committed fully to their athletic development,” McCain remarked. “They have worked hard to earn every opportunity that lies before them — and are completely deserving of all of it.”
Read on to learn more about the six Spartans who plan to continue competing beyond St. Stephen’s next fall.
Casey Bray is bound for Memphis, Tenn., where she will continue her field hockey and academic careers at Rhodes College. Bray has competed for the Spartans’ Varsity Field Hockey team since her freshman year, serving as a captain for the squad during her junior and senior seasons. In addition to field hockey, Bray also participated in soccer and lacrosse and competed with Lone Star Field Hockey Club outside of school.
“Casey filled any role that was asked of her,” said Varsity Field Hockey Coach Chelsea Richards. “Every time she stepped on the field, she brought unmatched positive energy for her teammates. Casey knows how to lift up others, and I cannot wait to see her continue to grow at Rhodes next fall.”
A.J. Francois is bound for the University of Denver next fall to continue his academic and soccer careers. In addition to leading the St. Stephen’s Soccer Academy, Francois had the opportunity to join the Austin Bold last fall for postseason professional play. To top that, he was recently called up for the Dominican Republic National Team camp in preparation for the country’s Olympic qualifiers.
Soccer Academy Director Shane Maguire could throw a range of compliments at this standout player. “A.J. joined us on a trip to Japan the summer before he started at St. Stephen’s, and we immediately knew we had a gem,” Maguire recalled. “He has been a quiet leader within the Soccer Academy for years, giving advice, support and encouragement to his teammates while leading by example.”
Matthew Hutchison is headed to upstate New York to continue his academic and soccer pursuits at Cornell University. He has been a staple in the Soccer Academy for the last four years, developing his skills, honing his competitiveness, and constantly raising expectations for himself and his teammates. Hutchison’s coaches have witnessed unmatched dedication and determination throughout his development at St. Stephen’s and are excited to cheer him on in the future.
“Hutch is competitive, very competitive,” said Maguire, who added that not a day goes by that Hutchison does not work to improve. “Hutch never misses a scheduled training session and regularly seeks additional opportunities to practice. Sometimes he will just grab a bag of balls from the shed to work on improving his game. He is always on the field; we’ve even had to mow around him!”
Patricio “Pato” Garcia Muriel Pasquel, who joined the St. Stephen’s Tennis Academy in 10th grade, will continue his tennis and academic careers at the University of Denver next fall. His coaches all noted what an incredible, steadfast ambassador of the school and the Tennis Academy he has become. A natural leader on the courts, Pato constantly raises the energy of his training groups and has developed into an extraordinary competitor.
Tennis Academy Director Carlos DiLaura praised Pato for his contributions to the Academy and its players. “Pato is extremely organized, on and off the court,” remarked DiLaura. “He has a consistent, contagious and friendly energy, so it’s not uncommon for Pato to bring home the sportsmanship award from tournaments, which he has done several times throughout the past few years.” DiLaura is thrilled to cheer Pato on as he pursues the next level of tennis: “For Pato, the best is yet to come!”
Pato Solis will continue his soccer and academic careers at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in the fall. Coach Maguire recalled first meeting Solis at a Spartan Soccer camp in the Rio Grande Valley when Solis was only 8 years old and the youngest player to stay for the full-day camp. After joining St. Stephen’s as an 8th-grade boarding student, Solis quickly learned to balance the school’s rigorous academics and his passion for soccer, and he has thrived in both pursuits.
Maguire always has been impressed with Solis’ maturity, on and off the field. “Pato’s intellect is as sharp as his defense-splitting passes with that sweet left foot,” Maguire commented. “His long-range goals will be missed around Meredith Field.” Clearly, Solis has left an indelible mark on the Soccer Academy, as well as the St. Stephen’s community as a whole, and his coaches and teammates look forward to watching him contribute to RIT and beyond in the coming years.
Cooper Price will move to Boston in the fall to continue his rowing and academic careers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Price’s work ethic on the water is as strong as it is in the classroom, and his dedication to training has never wavered. The year-round commitment to rowing can be a grind for some student-athletes, but Price always has eagerly trained with purpose and intention — working to improve each and every day.
Coach Davis Colwell had only praise for Price’s contributions throughout the last few years. “MIT is getting a strong, dedicated, team-first rower,” Colwell noted. “Cooper is the kind of teammate you want in your boat, and I wish him the best in his future endeavors!”
Congratulations to these amazing student-athletes!