Five D-1 Athletes (Four Girls) Feted at the High School

"We’ve never had so many female athletes recruited by D-1 schools.”
Marilyn Marsilio, center, had the unique opportunity to serve in the past four years as the guidance counselor for Marina Preiss, Raya O’Neal, Maggie Pizzo, and Amanda Seekamp, all of whom are to continue their athletic and academic careers at Division 1 colleges. Another D-1 bound student is Cort Heneveld, who is to play lacrosse at Navy. Jack Graves

    Five East Hampton High School seniors, three of whom play lacrosse, one of whom plays volleyball, and one of whom swims, and their proud parents celebrated at the high school’s library on Dec. 11 the fact that they have been recruited by Division-1 colleges to continue their athletic and academic careers.

    The lacrosse players are Maggie Pizzo (Yale), Amanda Seekamp (Hofstra), and Cort Heneveld (Navy). The volleyballer (arguably the best all-around player Kathy McGeehan has ever had), Raya O’Neal, is going to Hampton (Va.) University, and the swimmer, Marina Preiss, who competed in state meets in four of the past five years, is headed for San Diego State.

    Not only were their parents proud, but, presumably, it was a vindication of sorts for them inasmuch as all have logged many, many miles in furthering their children’s athletic ambitions.

    It was quite a day too for Marilyn Marsilio, who has served as the guidance counselor for all four of the girls.

    “They’re all amazing,” she said during a brief visit to the library in between counseling sessions. “It’s a career first for me — a record-breaker. As far as I know, and I’ve been here 25 years, we’ve never had so many female athletes recruited by D-1 schools.”

    “I’ve been their adviser for all four years . . . they’re very independent students; they’ve always had their eyes on the prize. They’re driven. They’ve all wanted to combine an academic program with an athletic life.”

    After having posed with the four — as the high school’s string quartet (Leo Panish, Gillian Neubert, Julia Talasko, and Joshua LeClerc) played, Marsilio offered her congratulations, and was off.

    Cort Heneveld, who has known since his sophomore year that he would go to the United States Naval Academy — and thus carry on a family tradition that began with his maternal grandfather — is the ninth boys lacrosse player to have played for Mike Vitulli here in the past several years to be recruited by a D-1 school.

    His eldest brother, Heath, is a Navy Seal (who recently returned from an assignment overseas), and another brother, Austin, who’ll be a Navy pilot, is a starting midfielder on Navy’s lacrosse team.

    Asked what he liked about lacrosse, Cort, who will run the 600-meter race in winter track, said, “The running, shooting, catching, dodging, the complex defenses . . . it’s not just a physical sport, you have to be smart.”

    “Absolutely it’s a good sport to play” if one were hoping to win a scholarship, said Cort’s coach, who added that “we’re excited about the upcoming season. This will be Cort’s fourth year on the varsity. He’s one of the captains, one of the leaders. He’s a pleasure to coach.”

    Vitulli is going to take his team to see the Army-Navy men’s lacrosse game in mid-April.

    Susan Seekamp, Amanda’s mother, said her husband, Arthur, a former all-American defenseman at the University of Maryland, had made sure his daughters (Amanda’s younger sister, Carley, is also on East Hampton’s team) “had sticks in their hands from the time they were 2 or 3.”

    Meg Preiss, Marina’s mother, and coach, said, when asked if Marina had been swimming since infancy, “She was floating on her back at 3 months.”

    Marina, whose swimming strengths are the 100 and 50-yard freestyle races, swims with Tim Treadwell’s masters group at the Y.M.C.A. East Hampton RECenter from 6 to 7:30 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, swims at the Y for an hour and a half on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, and does “dry land workouts” with Alex Astilean at his SpeedFit fitness studio on Newtown Lane Wednesdays and Saturdays.

    “Sunday I sleep in,” she said, with a smile.

    Asked about the girls lacrosse team’s prospects, Pizzo, who also is the first East Hampton student ever to be picked for the national band (as a flautist), was enthusiastic. “We’ll have Amanda and me . . . Carley [a junior] is going to Navy, and Jenna [Budd, also a junior] is going to Hofstra.”

    Pizzo and about a half dozen of her teammates were seen practicing on the high school’s turf field on a recent Sunday afternoon with Eric Fredrickson, the school’s newly hired strength and conditioning coach.

    “He’s my second cousin . . . he’s been working with me for two years now,” said Pizzo, who was tapped for Yale when she was a sophomore. “Yale and Hofstra play each other,” she was glad to add.

    As for what she’ll major in at Yale, she said, “I love math and science . . . I’m thinking of pre-med, maybe biology. . . . I’m keeping my options open, but it will be something to do with math and science.”

    When Raya O’Neal visited Hampton University not long ago, the setter, a senior on the women’s volleyball team, which made it to the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s national tournament this year, for the first time, said she hoped she’d be coming soon, for she needed help.

    “I started playing volleyball at the Montauk Playhouse [with Kathy Mc­Geehan, East Hampton’s coach] when I was in the fifth grade,” O’Neal said. “I switched to the Academy travel team when I was in the 10th grade, and went to the nationals with that team this past July. Rick Cole, the Academy’s coach and the athletic director at Iona, has a lot of connections — he helped me a lot.”

    O’Neal, who holds several career records here — and is in the top 10 of just about every category — said she planned to major in communications and sports broadcasting at Hampton.

    She was to practice with the Academy team, which, she said, had “the best players on the Island,” the next day, in Lindenhurst.