National Letters of Intent - Four for Penfield

- This is the first week of the fall signing period. Some players in NCAA division I and division II schools are allowed to sign their National Letters of Intent, pledging their commitment to their colleges/universities.

The Penfield Patriots held a small celebration on Wednesday as they saw four seniors sign NLI. Defenseman Nick Kimmins selected Hartford. Andrew Schoeneck signed his letter to play at Bellarmine (Kentucky). Charlie Cumminswill play at the University of Tampa and Connor Russell has decided to play at SUNY Albany.

Nick Kimmins - HartfordNick Kimmins

Senior defenseman Nick Kimmins says "he really likes the coach [Peter Lawrence] and the player on the team" and that was the driving force in choosing to continue his lacrosse career at the University of Hartford. The coaches are "young so they can relate to us," says the Penfield rising senior, one of four to sign a National Letter of Intent on the opening signing day for 2012. The location was a factor in his decision as well. Just the right distance from home, "close enough for my family to see me play" and yet far enough to feel he is away from home.

After looking at Ithaca, Gettysburg and Mercyhurst, Kimmins had an official visit to Hartford where he met the team and took a closer look at the campus. "It was fun. I went down and saw a practice and got to hang around with the team."

There are a number of players from Section Five playing for the Hawks. Adam Fingar (Canandaigua), Kevin Sanna (Pittsford), Jake Vogl (Aquinas), Dan Pierce (Brighton) and Brad Hutton (Thomas) are all listed on the 2013 rosters. With so many local players Kimmins noted that "It's easier to connect to home."

A strong defenseman, Kimmins says that his ability to work hard and his speed are among his strengths as a player and he hopes to continue to improve his stick handling before heading east next fall.

After starting to play lacrosse in eighth grade, he was impressed watching players like Kevin Randall (Notre Dame/Charlotte Hounds) who was an Academic All-American at Penfield in 2008.

Kimmins will be able to keep all his red/white swag when he becomes a Hawk next fall, but he has one more year to make a mark with the Patriots. "I feel like we're going to be really good this year. We put the time and effort in" and we'll need "teamwork and to work hard every day at practice."

Charlie Cummins - Tampa

The smile rarely came off his face as senior defenseman Charlie Cummins joined three of his teammates to sign their National Letters of Intent on the first day of the fall signing period. He took his time to look at lots of schools including Michigan, Rutgers, Albany and Hobart before making his choice. A great business school and the warm weather were factors in his decision to play at the University of Tampa next year.Charlie Cummins

One additional plus in choosing Tampa (did we mention the weather?) was the chance to play with former Penfield teammate Matt Bilak who is a freshman this year. "I know him well. Even though it is very far away, I'm going to have a good friend there."

The Head Coach is well known to Section Five, the product of Irondequoit. Rory Whipple is the first Head Coach for the Spartans and has been successful at Clarkson, Hartwick, Bryant and Florida Southern before completing his first year with Tampa with a 11-5 record.

Cummins' official visit was different from the others he took. "When I went down there I actually took my equipment and played with some other recruits. We got to go in the locker room and play on the field at night." After playing with his future classmates, Cummins felt comfortable. "The trip was different from a lot of recruiting trips."
There was good news for the Spartans yesterday as they learned that the NCAA tournament for Division II schools will be doubled in 2013. Eight schools will compete for their National Championship and Tampa is noted a school that will get a big boost by the decision.

Playing basketball and football has helped Cummins to develop his lacrosse IQ. "Off ball I know where to look and I can put it all together." The noted "take-away" specialist likes his stick skills, but says wants to develop more strength before next fall. "What I want to work on is my strength. I can always get bigger, stronger and faster." He hopes to become more of a leader (off-season) in the weight room and later (on field) when the season gets here.

Cummins knew at an early age that college lacrosse might be in his future. "Coach Schembri brought me up as an eighth grader and I started as a freshman. I was guarding seniors who were going on to play in college." At Rising Sophomore 205 Camp, "I realized that I could play with these guys."

He credits Coach Schembri and his other coaches for his successes. "I was an eighth grader on Varsity. I was pretty scared of those big guys. He [Schembri] gave me confidence.

He has high hopes for the Patriots this year, noting that there is a great deal of talent on this team and that the seniors have been playing together for a while. "We can't just shoot for States because that's just too easy to say. We'd like to win the Section Five Championship and then move on from there. "

Andrew Schoeneck - BellarmineAndrew Schoeneck

Andrew Schoeneck sees himself as a late bloomer as a lacrosse recruit. The senior attackman who scored 46g-17a was named to the Class A All-Tournament team and to the first team All League (MC-1) last year. It was, however, his work last summer that led to his signing a National Letter of Intent to play at Bellarmine University (Kentucky) next fall. The coaches "first found me at the Under Amour tryouts. I was from Syracuse area, and so is the Head Coach [Kevin Burns, West Genesee]. I'm going far away, but it's nice that I have someone who's familiar with the same home town." He also looked at Albany, Hartford and Sienna among others.

His official visit took place during alumni weekend and Schoeneck noted that "the guys put a beat on the Alumni. I had a great weekend and stayed with some of the sophomores on the team. There was practice in the morning and the banquet at night."

Getting himself open and being able to finish with a goal are strengths for the slim senior attackman. "We had a dodging midfield last year and they did a good job of finding me." Before he heads off to Louisville, he wants to work hard in the weight room. "Getting faster and stronger are my top two priorities because that will just help me become a better dodger."

He remembers the 2006 year for Penfield when they won their most recent Section Five Championship. "A bunch of those guys like Connor Rice, Mike Cummins (Charlie's older brother) and Alex Nowak. I really looked up to them." He credits his coaches and his dad with helping him to succeed. "He pushed me to practice as much as I can. He taught me the fundamentals and he taught me to love the game."

With one more year in high school, Schoeneck and his teammates hope to win a Sectional title. "We came so close last year [losing to Fairport in the Finals]. We have the same defense returning. We have good offense and one of the best face off guys in the Section {Connor Russell]. We're just trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together and go for a run."

Connor Russell - Albany

For more than a year, face off specialist Connor Russell thought he would go to Syracuse after his senior year at Penfield, but in the end, he decided that SUNY Albany would be a better fit. "I wanted to visit Albany. I really liked the coaches and the players I just fell in love with the school."Connor Russell

There are a lot of Section Five players there and they're getting a lot of good recruits. I have a good chance of to start in as a freshman in face offs and hopefully we can win a National Championship there."

After rescinding his verbal commitment to Syracuse in early in November, Russell was excited to have four contacts in the first day after his decision and many more in the week that followed. "Since I decommitted, I had a chance to look at a lot more schools and I felt that really helped."

The well-known face off expert who won 75% of his draws last season was impressed by his discussions with the Albany coaching staff and Head Coach Scott Marr. "He told me that I was the first true face off guy they have recruited. They said they are excited about that."

He credits Coach Schembri with his success at the position. "When I was in ninth grade he would give lessons at his house. He's taught me a lot." Among Russell's other strengths are his ground ball work and his determination. "I always want to be the best and I always put the team ahead of me."

Growing up, he looked up to another face off specialist, Kelly McKenna (Notre Dame). "He was a face off guy and his dad coached me at modified. I have also always looked up to my brother. He would always take me out on the field and practice and just make me a tougher kid."

After his sophomore year he made the second team All-Monroe County and started to receive emails from coaches. He knew then, that college lacrosse could be in his future. "Coach Schembri told me that he thought I had a really good chance at face off if I stuck with it."

But before leaving town, Russell has some unfinished business at Penfield. "Penfield is going to win Sectionals, hopefully against Fairport. We have a lot of returners coming back and we have good chemistry. We have the talent to beat them. "
At Albany, Russell will join a number of Section Five players including, Fairport goalie Blaze Riorden, Tyler Aycock from Pittsford, John Maloney and Mitch Rupp from Victor, and James Burdette from Penn Yan. He is very excited to move to the next step. "It's really the place for me."