Three Port students sign letters to continue athletic careers

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From left to right: Port Washington School District seniors Dalia Bercow, Ava Gellis, and Francesca Karman sign letters of intent to play college athletics. (Photo by Luke Torrance)

For most high school students, their competitive athletic career comes to an end on graduation day. But three members of Schreiber High School’s class of 2019 will continue to compete in college.

The students were Dalia Bercow, who will be playing field hockey at Haverford College; Ava Gellis, who will be part of the track and field team at Lehigh University; and Francesca Karman, who will be continuing her tennis career at Fairfield University.

“I know this is a great day for them,” said Port Washington School District Athletic Director Stephanie Joannon.

The signing was held in Schreiber’s lobby, where the three athletes sat at a table with a pen and bottle of water “like they’re on ESPN,” Joannon joked. Parents and fellow students watched the brief ceremony and cheered for their friends. Before signing, each of the athletes’ coaches said something about them.

“[Dalia] was a really unselfish player, both on and off the field,” said Vikings field hockey coach Kathleen Lennon. “She’s a coach’s dream, I like to say… without Dalia and girls like her, we wouldn’t have made it to the county championship game.”

Track and field coach Jeremiah Pope said that Gellis made her presence known since she first showed up at Schreiber.

“Freshman year, she was the county champion in the 100 [meter dash]… three years in a row, she was a Triple Crown winner at the conference championship meet,” he said. “All those awards sound good, and it is good, but it’s the work she puts behind it… she puts in 100 percent at practice and leads by example.”

Tennis coach Shane Helfner said Karman was one of his best players on a team that was named the best on Long Island earlier this year.

“She’s one of the strongest tennis players that I’ve coached… I’ll always remember her for her one-hand backhand,” he said. “She is easily one of the best players in the state.”

The three girls briefly thanked their parents, friends and coaches before signing their letters of intent.

Karman said playing at Fairfield was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.

“I’ve been dreaming of college tennis since I was 8 years old,” she said. “Being committed and finally signing, it definitely feels amazing.”

Gellis, who still has another season at Port, said she felt college athletics would help her academically.

“It’s nice because I feel like I would miss it if I stop competing,” she said. “It’s something I really like to do along with school, and I feel like it helps me focus in school in some sort of way.”

Bercow said she felt “honored” that she was able to make a good impression with college coaches. She said this past season was her favorite.

“When I was a freshman, we were at the bottom of the conference, and [this year] we made it to the county championship, so the entire program is making strides,” she said. “That moment at the end of the playoffs solidified that we are getting better and we are doing this as a team.”

Reach reporter Luke Torrance by email at ltorrance@theislandnow.com, by phone at 516-307-1045, ext. 214, or follow him on Twitter @LukeATorrance.

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