Relief, excitement define annual signing day

  • St. Charles North's Zach Hirsch.

      St. Charles North's Zach Hirsch. Mary Beth Nolan | Staff Photographer

  • Batavia's Brian Krolikowski,

      Batavia's Brian Krolikowski, Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

Published11/13/2008 12:02 AM

Wednesday was national letter of intent day, and a handful of athletes in the Tri-Cities took care of that by reading the fine print and signing their names - right after asking, "What's today's date?" and, "What's my social security number?"

Some, like St. Charles East's Laura Homann and St. Charles North's Zach Hirsch, didn't have a big party or celebration - yet. Homann, who is heading to Syracuse for volleyball, quietly signed and will have the big fiesta sometime next week after the Saints come back from the state tournament this weekend. Perhaps they will have more to celebrate when they return from Bloomington-Normal.


Hirsch, who is heading to Nebraska for baseball, gave his signature in the kitchen at home before school.

"My parents took a couple of pictures, signed it, and that was pretty much it," Hirsch said. "I'm very excited to get it over with. I'm very happy with where I am."

Although baseball is his first love, he's also a basketball player for the North Stars. There wasn't a question whether he was going to play this year, despite the busy search in the summer and off-season to find the perfect college. Hirsch became the sixth baseball player in school history to go D-I.

"As far as basketball, there was no doubt I was coming back," said the left-handed Hirsch, who appears to be taller and bigger than last year. "Coach (Tom) Poulin is awesome and we have a bunch of great guys."

Another talented baseball pitcher in the area, Batavia's Brian Krolikowski, signed on with Miami-Ohio at the high school in the early afternoon while his family, coaches and friends watched and took pictures.

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"It's a relief, finally," Krolikowski said. "I get to sit back, take it in and relax for a second. I can't exactly take too much time...but it is a relief."

In the process, Krolikowski had to make a big sacrifice - giving up playing football his senior year. Former football teammates like Ryan Welter (who is also his catcher), Ryan Webb and Alex Berg were there at the signing to support him.

"He definitely knew what he wanted to do," Batavia baseball coach Matt Holm said of "Krolo" giving up football for baseball. "That's certainly an indication of commitment."

Krolikowski was the second Batavia baseball player in as many years to sign with a MAC school. Former Bulldog Alex Beckmann currently plays at Northern Illinois. Next year, the former teammates will eventually face one another.


Like Krolikowski, Batavia girls volleyball player Laura Doolin, who is going to Bradley, celebrated at Batavia. Only she did it right before school started (athletes can't sign any earlier than 7 a.m.).

St. Charles North's Kelsey Smith signed much later than that. She officially became the school's first Division I girls basketball player when she said yes to Michigan State a little after 5:30 p.m. The Smith family, North Star coaches and teammates gathered in the team room after practice to celebrate the occasion (more on that tomorrow).

Even though the official day was Wednesday, some are waiting. Geneva soccer studs Shawn Sloan (High Point) and Kendal Spurgin (Eastern Illinois) will have their day at an undetermined time later in the school year.

Fellow senior and girls basketball star Taylor Whitley (Indiana State) will sign today, and West Aurora softball pitcher Stephanie Becker (Mississippi State) is celebrating Saturday at her pitching coach Robin Voss' facility.

As for the rest of the athletes in the area? Batavia's Natalie Tarter (track, Wisconsin) and Matt Russo (boys soccer, Wisconsin-Green Bay) have to wait until February. Perhaps by then, there will be even more reasons to celebrate more athletes around the area. We'll just have to wait and see.

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