Nine FTHS Athletes Sign with Colleges

Meet the seniors who are bringing their athletic talents to colleges all over the country
Nine FTHS Athletes Sign with Colleges
Cassidy Corcione: Soccer at Michigan State University
Cassidy Corcione: Soccer at Michigan State University

On Wednesday November 8th, 2023, I had the opportunity to witness upperclass student athletes commit to their respective universities to continue playing the sport they love. I had the chance to interview two college recruits, Cassidy Corcione and Michael “Mikey” Avino. They had some nice words to share with me. 

Ainesh Manik: Hi, Cassidy!

– Cassidy Corcione: Hi, thanks for having me.

What sport do you play, and what college will you be attending?

– I play soccer, and I’ll be playing at Michigan State University.

If you had to choose, what is your favorite memory playing for FTHS?

– Probably my sophomore year when we won a lot of state championships from originally being down, especially the Rancocas Valley game.

Awesome. Do you have any professional players or inspiration you look up to?

– Not really a specific player, but definitely my older brother, who is an athlete. He played baseball, basketball, and soccer in high school, and then baseball in college.

It definitely looks like athletics run in the family. How did you evolve as an athlete from your freshman year to your senior year?

– Well, it’s been quite a journey. There have been many challenges to overcome, especially injuries and COVID. But I was motivated to push myself to be the best I can be.

I’m sure the COVID period was a major roadblock for many student-athletes. Now that you’ve overcome it, what are you looking forward to most at Michigan State?

– Definitely contributing to the BIG 10 tournament and hopefully getting a championship for that.

That’s really it. It’s been a lot of fun sitting here with you today. Thanks!

– Thank you!

Lex Nelsen: Baseball at Lycoming College
Lex Nelsen: Baseball at Lycoming College


John Van Horn: Hi Lex, thank you for taking the time to sit down with us today!

– Lex Nelsen: No problem, thank you for having me.

Alright, let’s dive right into things Where are you going to college, what are your thoughts on that college, and what sport will you be playing?

– I’m attending Lycoming college to play baseball. I am a two-way commit as a pitcher and an outfielder, and I am really ecstatic about everything. Lycoming has a baseball program with a lot of promise and is located in a beautiful part of Pennsylvania, and I feel that my personal baseball and academic goals will be met there.

What is your favorite memory while playing for Township?

– My favorite memory is our win against Millburn my sophomore year. They were a top-ten team in the state. Giacomo Calamita hit a clutch go-ahead double to put us on top. I would have to say that my favorite personal memory was making my first career start. After my start, Coach Smith told me that if I continued to pitch the way I did, I would win many games for Township. This really stuck with me.

Awesome. Let’s continue. Who is your favorite professional player/inspiration? 

– My favorite professional inspiration would be Jacob DeGrom, because he shows the art of pitching. He is very fluid and loose with his mechanics, a great competitor, and a very calm presence on the field. His pitching is something I like to watch and copy and see if I can pick up a few things to learn. He’s always a joy to watch pitch.

Even as a Mets fan?

– Even as a Mets fan, wherever he goes he is always entertaining to watch perform.

What is your favorite aspect of the sport? What puts it above all others? 

– My favorite aspect of baseball is having the ability, as a pitcher, to control the game. I feel like that is something that no other sport has, the one position where one person can control what’s happening in the entire game. Everything that happens after I throw that pitch is because of my influence, good, bad or indifferent.

That’s true, and although baseball is definitely a team sport, pitching ultimately comes down to individual performance. What has been the biggest sacrifice you have made to both pitching and playing the field, in order to stay great?

– I have committed a lot of time and a lot of practice in order to perform at the highest level I can. 

How have you helped be a role model to your teammates?

– I think I’ve helped my teammates the most from leading by example. I think teamwork and just having respect for the person next to you is everything when it comes to being a good teammate. Baseball is a team sport, and whatever happens after a game is a team effort, win or lose.

Absolutely. Lex, how are you involved in the FTHS community off the field?

– I am involved in Project Lundy, Peer Leaders (shoutout to Mr. Leahy), National Honor Society, and Latin Honor Society.

As a member of Peer Leaders myself, I can absolutely vouch for Mr. Leahy as well. Alright, last question. Do you have any advice for athletes looking to try out a new sport in high school or potentially play in college? 

– If your’re a younger athlete, go out and try everything and anything. Once you find something you’re good at or a sport you really enjoy,  you’re only going to get better if you put the work in. For athletes seeking to play college sports, expose yourself to schools and scouts as much as possible, and open yourself up to schools that will suit your academic and athletic needs.

That’s all! Thank you for a fantastic interview Lex. 

– Of course, thank you!


Ainsley Moy: Soccer at Texas Christian Univeristy
Ainsley Moy: Soccer at Texas Christian Univeristy

Eli Druckman: Thank you so much for doing this interview. Congrats on signing. To start, introduce yourself with your name, what sport you play, and what school you have committed to play at.

– Ainsley Moy: Hi! I’m Ainsley Moy. I play center attacking mid and I am going to TCU.

Why TCU? What drew you to play there?

– When I visited the campus, it was just an amazing environment. As soon as I stepped in it, I loved everything about it. I loved the coaches, the teammates, and everything else. It just felt like home as soon as I got there so it was kind of an easy decision from there.

Awesome. While playing for FTHS, do you have a favorite memory?

– I think everyone can probably say that their favorite memory would be winning the state championship last year. That was an amazing accomplishment for us and now that we’ve won back to back state championships, I can say both of those victories are my favorite memories. 

Your time playing for Township has been wildly successful so I’m sure it’s hard to narrow it down to one thing. 

– Definitely, there have been many memories to choose from.

What made you choose soccer in the first place?

– It’s just something that I’ve been doing my entire life. I started soccer when I was five years old and ever since then I just gained a love for it. I think having the ability to play with my teammates is just so enjoyable and being a part of a team where we’re all talented and able to achieve great things makes it all worth it in my mind. In a way, soccer has always been a no-brainer in my life.

Last question. I’m sure it’s been quite the journey from when you were five to get to where you are now. If you had to give a piece of advice to someone five years old with a dream of playing soccer, what would that be? 

– I would just say not to lose track of your goals and your visions. There are going to be challenges and roadblocks that come your way and it is easy to feel like you’re not good enough sometimes so I would say to keep going no matter what.

Thank you so much and congratulations!

– Thank you!

Sienna Smith: Softball at Stockton University
Sienna Smith: Softball at Stockton University

John Van Horn: Hi, Sienna! Thank you for doing this.

– Sienna Smith: No problem! Thank you.

Alright, let’s get started. To kick things off, what sport will you be playing and where will you be playing?

– I am attending Stockton University to play softball.

Really cool to be staying in state. If you had to pick, what would be your favorite Township memory?

– I would say winning two titles during my sophomore year. That was just an overall amazing moment.

What would you say puts softball above all other sports? What is your favorite aspect of it?

– My favorite aspect of softball is that once I put my cleats on, all my problems go away. I use softball as my escape. Softball is above all sports because although you perform individually, whether it’s when you’re up to bat or in the field, the entire game isn’t just on you. One at bat isn’t going to dictate how the entire game goes. You have your teammates to pick you up and help you succeed as a team.

Amazing answer. Considering that you are one of three softball athletes to commit, I can definitely say you all share a pure love for the game. What would you say would be the biggest sacrifice you’ve made to the game? 

– Over the years, I’ve missed countless hangouts or birthday parties and lost a lot of friends since I couldn’t make it because of softball. If I could make it, I’d arrive extremely late or covered in dirt. Some “friends” stopped asking me to come because they just assumed I had softball and couldn’t make it. Those who are still in my life I know are my real friends and have supported me every step of the way.

And now, you get to see all that hard work pay off. Pretty cool, right?

– Oh, it’s awesome. The work definitely payed off.

Sienna, what would you say are your goals for the rest of your athletic career at Stockton?

– I want to beat my previous stats and prove to everyone that hardwork and sacrifice pays off. I also want to hit more than 2 home runs and lead the team in stolen bases.

Nice. Let’s wrap things up! How are you involved in FTHS outside of the diamond?

– I spend a majority of my time volunteering for Special Olympics, Blessing Bag Brigade, Open Door, and at my church. I am also the co-president for the Blessing Bag Brigade club here.

Thank you for your time Sienna. I really appreciate it. 

– Thanks!


Hailey Santiago: Soccer at Florida Atlantic
Hailey Santiago: Soccer at Florida Atlantic

Eli Druckman: Thank you so much for sitting down with me. To kick things off, introduce yourself with your name, what sport you play, and what school you have committed to play at.

– Hailey Santiago: Hi, I’m Hailey Santiago, I play soccer, and I’m going to Florida Atlantic University (FAU). 

Great. What made you select FAU as the school you wanted to play for?

– I love Florida. I love being in the warmth and the school is beautiful. It’s just such a great place to spend the next four years. 

Perfect soccer weather. When it comes to Township, is there a favorite memory that you have playing on the team?

– Winning States is probably the best memory I have. Going home on the bus after is just so much fun. Everyone was singing and the police all followed us and it was just a great time, and a memory I will never forget. 

That sounds amazing. What made you originally decide to play soccer when you were little? What drew you to the sport and what kept you playing?

– When I was younger, I idolized Ronaldo like I’m sure everyone did, so watching him play soccer made me want to be just like him and so that kinda just made me work hard as a kid. He was my biggest inspiration. 

Ronaldo has definitely inspired many people worldwide. Outside of soccer, how are you involved in FTHS?

– I also play lacrosse, so I play multiple sports.

Very nice! Last question: What advice would you give to someone, either starting out or anywhere in their soccer career, that you have learned along your journey to college soccer?

– Just have fun. Don’t do something because you’re forced to do it. Always make it fun and enjoy yourself whenever you go out on the field. 

Thank you. Congrats!

– Thank you!  

Ashley Viesta: Softball at Central Connecticut State Univeristy
Ashley Viesta: Softball at Central Connecticut State Univeristy

This past Wednesday, November 8, Freehold Township High School held its first of three college signing days throughout the school year. Baseball players, soccer players, softball players, and even a cross country athlete sat down at the table, signed the bottom line, and took pictures with friends and family in front of the audience. Following this occasion, I was able to speak to two softball players that were present at this event in Alexa Barbera and Ashley Viesta. Both had some very nice things to share with me.

Cameron Delgado: Hi Ashley! Thank you for sitting down with me today. 

-Ashley Viesta: Thank you for having me!

Ashley, what sport and position do you play?

AV: I play softball, and I play catcher!

So you’re the leader on the infield!

– Yes, I guess I would be!

What would you say is your favorite Township memory, if you had to pick one?

– Probably when I was a sophomore, when we won the state sectional championship. Group 4. There are a lot to choose from.

I’m sure, considering how much the team has accomplished. What would you say is the biggest commitment you’ve made to staying excellent?

Probably sacrificing a bit my social life because I had to miss a lot of social events in order to go to softball events and to try to get committed and recruited. I’ve missed out on time with my friends. But, obviously now it’s worth it in the end since I’m going to Central Connecticut. 

Now that you’re a senior, how do you act as a role model for your teammates?

– Just always being a leader, always being confident, always trying to be the best role model I can. As the catcher, you’re kind of like the voice and leader of the field and you’re always talking. So being loud and being talkative has put good energy out onto my team and I think whenever I have good energy, I feel like that’s when we win our games.

Communication is such a large element of softball, right?

– Oh, absolutely. Especially since I play catcher, a lot of the responsibility to communicate to my teammates is up to me.

That Makes a lot of sense! Anyways, what are your goals for the rest of your athletic career and why?

Probably just to keep being great. My personal goals are probably to get more hits to get better. Hitting, getting better behind the plate, just to honestly keep improving over the next four years when I keep playing in college and to never stop and always keep growing in some aspect.

Are you involved with FTHS anywhere outside of sports?

– Yeah, I am a member in many different clubs. I’m in Relay For Life, Blessing Bag Brigade, etc. I feel like being involved in these clubs and activities is really fun and that’s what I like to do, be a leader in the school. 

Awesome. Let’s wrap things up. Last question. Do you have any advice for those looking to become college athletes, or simply even play high school sports?

– Never give up, keep persevering, and to keep being the best version of yourself because that’s all you could really ask for. Just keep trying and don’t give up on your goals and dreams.

Sounds great. Thank you so much, Ashley!

– Thank you!

Alexa Barbera: Softball at Sacred Heart University
Alexa Barbera: Softball at Sacred Heart University

Cameron Delgado: Hi Alexa! Thank you for doing this interview. So, what sport and position do you play?

– Alexa Barbera: Hi Cameron. Thank you! I play softball, and play the middle infield as well as the outfield.

What would you say is your favorite Township memory, and I’m sure you have many to choose from!

– Probably winning sectionals in sophomore year, so 2022. That was an amazing team performance and a memory I’ll always cherish. 

Who is your favorite professional player or inspiration? How did they get you into softball? 

– My favorite professional player (technically college player) was Rachel Garcia, who played for UCLA. She was a pitcher who grew a lot in that school. She had a really good time there, and she is probably my top professional/college softball athlete.

That’s awesome. What would you say is the biggest sacrifice you have made to stay great at softball?

Definitely missing a lot of friend events due to travel softball. As I get older, I definitely make up for it because as you commit, it’s just easier to go out more because you know the work you put in payed off. 

Now that you begin your college career, what are your goals while playing at Sacred Heart?

– My goal is to set certain hitting records at Sacred Heart.

I’m sure you definitely will! We’re almost done. Alexa, how are you involved in the FTHS community outside of softball?

I volunteer for different things. I’m in NHS so I volunteer in churches and different organizations.

 Very nice! Alright, last question. Do you have any advice for those looking to become college athletes, or simply even play high school sports?

– Just keep working hard. It’s definitely a hard process especially if you get hurt, and if there’s bumps in the road, just keep going no matter what. Don’t stop.

Thank you for coming, Alexa. You’re awesome. Good luck at Sacred Heart.

– Thank you, thank you!

Mike Avino: Baseball at Albright College
Mike Avino: Baseball at Albright College

Today, I’ll also be sitting down with FTHS baseball player Michael “Mikey” Avino.

Ainesh Manik: Hi, Mikey!

– Michael Avino: Hi, thanks for having me.

Let’s start things off. What sport and position do you play and where will you be playing that sport in college?

– I play baseball, I am a shortstop, and I will be attending Albright University in Reading, Pennsylvania.

What would you say is your favorite memory while playing for Township?

My favorite memory would definitely have to be the wild walk off game in my junior year. I helped my teammates win, 9-8.

Sure sounds like an action-packed game!

– Definitely, it was crazy and a moment I won’t forget.

What convinced you to commit to Albright?

I did a camp there previously, and I started networking with the coaches. I loved it there.

What are you most looking forward to at Albright College?

Definitely sharing a dorm with my close friend on my team outside of school. We’re going to have a fun time rooming together, hanging out, and especially playing baseball together.

It’s pretty cool to be dorming with a close friend. Alright, Mikey. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you. Thank you for taking this time and I wish you the best in the future!

– Thank you, I appreciate it.

Emma Zawatski: Track & Field at Colorado University
Emma Zawatski: Track & Field at Colorado University

John Van Horn: Hi, Emma! Thank you for taking the time to sit down with me today. 

– Emma Zawatski: Hi, thank you!

Before we begin, how does it feel to be the best runner in New Jersey?

– It’s pretty surreal to think about, to be honest.

I’m sure it must be. Let’s get started. Where are you going to college, and what sport will you be playing there?

– I will be attending the University of Colorado, and I am committed for cross country, and indoor/outdoor track & field.

What made you choose the University of Colorado? 

– They have a historic distance program that really separates them from the rest. They also have probably the most Olympians produced out of any university. I also know Coach Wetmore and the coaching staff there are going to do some amazing things and that they have the best training programs in the country. They will help me achieve my goals.

Awesome, and I’m sure with a sport like cross country/track that coaching is a huge part of it. So, if you had to pick, what would be your favorite Township memory so far?

– Oh, man. The one that sticks out to me the most was last weekend, when we won groups for the second straight year. We faced a lot of adversity going into this race, and there were a lot of tears when we found out we had won.

If you had to pick a favorite runner, who would that be?

– Emma Colburn has always been my favorite runner. She actually went to Colorado like I will be doing and was coached by the same coaches.

Wow, so it looks like you’re following in her footsteps! 

– Yes, it’s pretty cool to literally be following my idols footsteps.

I’m sure it is. Let’s move on. What would you say is your favorite aspect or part of running?

– I would say warm-ups with my team.

Very interesting.

– Yeah, when we are stretching, it’s just all fun and everyone is talking and very loose. Our brains go into really weird places. Stretching with my team is the best.

How do you help be a role model for my teammates?

– I think that one thing that really shone through this weekend was demonstrating the ability to stay confident. We weren’t sure if we were going to move on or not, and some of the girls were definitely having panic attacks. Me and one of my teammates, Leah Rutledge, were ensuring our teammates to have confidence and believe that we had won, which ended up happening!

Alright, how are you involved in the Township community outside of running?

– Well, I’m a member of the Jewish Heritage Club (I’m not Jewish but still enjoy the club very much), and I’m in NHS and Peer Leadership, which is just the best class in the world.

Agreed! Peer Leaders is the best. Last question. What advice do you have for fellow athletes?

– Just have fun. I know that sounds like such a generic answer, but people make sports out to be so much more than they really are. Just always have fun with what you are doing. It’s a sport. Have fun with it!

Thank you! Congrats again on the signing. I wish you the best.

– Thank you so much!


Video Recap
@fthspatpress congrats to the 9 athletes from baseball, softball, soccer, and track & field/cross country who signed on our first (and largest) signing day! #signingday #classof2024 ♬ 10 minutes! Fashionable and bright jazz piano(1127989) – nyansuke

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