Article by Kurt Bopp, The Sentinel
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Austin Martz and five of his fellow Mechanicsburg student-athletes can breathe a little easier and enjoy their last few months in high school after publicly committing to a handful of top colleges and universities Thursday.
Ali Matisse, Matt Steele, Nicole Vasiliu, Joel Zeigler and Jodie Zelenky joined Martz in announcing their selections, and each agreed that it is good to finalize such an important decision and prepare for the next step in their academic and athletic careers.
“Definitely a big relief,” Steele said. “It’s nice to have it done. It gave me a chance to enjoy senior year. It’s real nice to focus on school rather than having this constant worry about where am I going to go to school next fall.”
Steele will play soccer at Mt. Saint Mary’s in Emmittsburg, Md., in the fall.
After visiting the college in December and discussing the team and the program’s future with the coach there, Steele said, he knew Mt. Saint Mary’s was the one.
Martz will attend Georgetown to play soccer and study finance. The senior said he is excited about beginning to prepare for Georgetown’s season. After looking at his new team’s schedule, he said, he began getting more pumped up about playing in the Big East.
He said he needs to “get to a basketball game now. Big East basketball is where it’s at,” Martz said.
Matisse and Zelenky will also be playing soccer at Division I programs, with Matisse going to the University of Pittsurgh and Zelenky headed to Virginia Tech.
Matisse said her decision came down to James Madison and Pitt, and her love for the city life solidified her decision. The future Panther said she “loves the energy and people in the city.” She also likes the school’s medical program as she pursues her degree in exercise science.
Although excited about college, Matisse said she is also focused on Mechanicsburg’s upcoming soccer season this spring.
“I’m really excited for our school season this year, because as a senior and leader, I plan to take our team really far,” she said. “We’re capable of it. I’m really excited because we play in the spring, and college is in the fall, so it’s a great kickoff to that.”
Matisse said she and Martz have been teasing each other as they get set to move on to their respective Big East schools, “We’ve definitely talked about us playing against each other,” Matisse said. “We’ve talked about trying to make each other’s games sometimes – Pitt will prevail.”
Zelenky is also eagerly anticipating the upcoming Wildcat soccer season and said the season will help prepare her and Matisse for their college seasons in the fall. It will also, she said, make sure they don’t get rusty.
The future Hokie said Virginia Tech was the first school she visited, and she instantly fell in love with it. Zelenky plans to study human nutrition, foods and exercise.
She said the fact that four Mechanicsburg soccer players will be going on to college programs says a lot about the coaches and program.
Vasiliu will be playing field hockey at Lebanon Valley College in the fall. The senior said she looked at Shippensburg, Bloomsburg, Juniata, Gettysburg and Lebanon Valley, but she said LVC stood out – particularly in academics.
“Definitely the physical therapy program (was impressive),” Vasiliu said.
Zeigler will be staying close by as he attends his parents’ alma mater, Messiah, for cross country, indoor track and outdoor track. He also plans to major in mechanical engineering.
“I will be very busy, yes,” Zeigler said. “I have visited the campus hundreds of times. I love the atmosphere. It combines academic excellence with Christian faith, which is exactly what I’m looking for.”
Of Zeigler’s three sports, cross country is his favorite, he said. He hopes running in all three will help him keep in top form.
Zeigler said the engineering and cross-country programs at Messiah are good and that he – and the other Wildcats – are looking forward to the challenges they’ll meet in college.