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Practice, Sacrifice and Focus Pay Off for Two Nipmuc Athletes

On November 18, Nipmuc High School seniors Kristen Niland (left) and Jackie Cortese signed letters of intent to play softball at the collegiate level next year. Niland will be playing at The University of Maine and Cortese will be playing at Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire.




Family, friends, and teammates of Nipmuc Regional High School seniors Jackie Cortese and Kristen Niland gathered together to witness the culmination of many years of hard work paying off when the two student athletes signed letters of intent to play softball at the collegiate level next year.
Jackie, who is the starting pitcher for the Nipmuc Warriors Varsity Softball team, signed with Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire, and her teammate Kristen who plays first base on the Nipmuc Warriors, signed with The University of Maine.
The girls made their decision to play softball for their respective universities official by signing their letters of intent in the high school Gathering Room on November 18.
Athletic Director Bill Leaver congratulated the two players, noting that it was "quite an accomplishment" for two players from the same team to receive offers to play the sport at the college level. "It says volumes about their work ethic," said Leaver. Leaver commended the students for the amount of work that they put into their softball careers, and on the sacrifices the two have made to get to this point. "On behalf of the Athletic Department I congratulate you on this momentous occasion. Your work ethic is something that other athletes can emulate," he said.
The two girls have played the sport for "as long as we could remember," playing in town, school, and on club softball teams. "It has been a long journey," said Kristen. "I have known for a long time that I wanted to be a Division One College athlete. This is a huge opportunity that I am really grateful to have," she said. Jackie had similar sentiments, saying that although they had to sacrifice time with their friends and family to practice and play softball, it was "definitely worth it." "I am really excited and very happy with my decision," she said. Cortese also said that she is looking forward to the Spring so she can play softball one more time with her high school team. "This is going to be a great season," she said,
After the signing, the girls' softball coach Bernie Curtis said that the two senior co-captains were well deserving of this achievement. "Both girls are very passionate about their sport. They are both team leaders and have great knowledge of the game," she said. Although Nipmuc has seen other softball players in the past sign letters of intent to play at the college level, Curtis said that this was the first time that two on the same softball team have signed at the same time. "To have two girls sign in one year; it is awesome," she said.
"A lot of practice, a lot of sacrifice, and a great deal of focus," are just a few of the descriptions Curtis used when talking about the athletes. "It is such a privilege to be able to coach someone with this talent," she said.




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