Signing day. It's the biggest decision many teenagers have ever made.
And in the packed library at St. Anthony's High School on Wednesday morning, it was clearly one of the most exciting moments too.
Wednesday kicked off the week-long early signing period for several sports, from basketball to lacrosse. The South Huntington Catholic school held a ceremony for 21 athletes who planned to sign national letters of intent this week.
"People want to know why Sports Illustrated has named us as one of the top programs in America. Look around," St. Anthony's athletic director Don Buckley told the crowd. "It's in this room. And they have set the standard for others."
It was already a big week for senior Charlie Raffa. The quarterback will lead the . The game will air live on MSG Varsity.
Yet for all the talent and determination Raffa has displayed on the football field, the Muttontown teen is an even better midfielder in lacrosse. While he committed to the University of Maryland in July, he made it official on Wednesday, signing the document and then mailing it off. It was a life-altering decision crammed into one momentus week.
"I'm really excited about Friday, but I'll do this first," Raffa said. "This is a fun thing."
Raffa was joined by several teammates from a lacrosse team that has won back-to-back CHSAA titles: Christian Bennardo (Villanova), Brian Cregan (Sacred Heart), Greg Danseglio (Virginia), Matt DeLea (Binghamton), Brian Kensil (Jacksonville), Joseph LoCascio (Maryland), Nicholas Mattei (NYIT) and Adam Pomper (Loyola).
"This is a great opportunity to sign with all your peers here," sad Danseglio, one of the nation's top defensemen. He chose the Cavaliers over Duke, North Carolina, Harvard, Princeton and Navy. "I'm proud of everyone's accomplishments."
It proved to be an equally impressive haul of college scholarships in girls lacrosse.
Tara Amalfitano, a lacrosse player from East Islip who chose American University over Marist, summed up the spirit of signing day, saying it was as much relief as excitement.
"We were really excited about the whole thing," Amalfitano said. "We're glad its over. We're just happy. All my friends are here with me."
Other girls lacrosse players who signed include: Shanna Brady (Maryland), Cristina Gambino (Virginia), Elizabeth Holland (Georgetown), Casey Madden (Franklin & Marshall), Kerrin Maurer (Duke), Lauren Schwalje (Georgetown) and Rebecca Vetere (Bucknell).
Michele Impellizeri, a 6-foot, 3-inch forward from Seaford, will play basketball at Bucknell. She made her decision after a second visit to the campus at the end of August.
"I met the team, got to hang out with them and play a pickup game," Impellizeri said. "I just loved it. The next day I called back and said, 'Sign me up.'"
Other commitments include: Isabelle Galantino will play golf at Georgetown; Sean Sullivan will swim for Miami (Ohio) and Grant Greene will wrestle at Northwestern.