AURORA | Ever since she was small, Kathleen Roe’s heart had been set on playing sports at Notre Dame.
At first, she thought it might be in soccer, but the Regis Jesuit senior fell in love with lacrosse after her mom urged her to try out for a club team and she decided to see where the sport would take her.
On Nov. 11, Roe couldn’t stop smiling as she culminated her dream when she signed her National Athletic Letter of Intent to play lacrosse at Notre Dame as part of a large NLI Signing Day ceremony in Regis Jesuit’s Performing Arts Center that included 10 Girls Division athletes in five sports.
“It’s such an awesome day; when I started to play lacrosse, I knew I wanted to play at Notre Dame, so it’s literally a dream come true,” said Roe, who scored 50 goals and dished out 18 assists last season on her way to All-State honors as a midfielder. “They are definitely one of the higher ranking teams and everybody on the team loves the sport. I’m very excited to part of that.”
Roe, one of the most skilled lacrosse players in the state, is eager for her senior season in the spring, when she and teammate Katie Schilmoeller — who signed with Regis University — hope to push coach Billy Corbett’s Regis Jesuit girls lacrosse team to its first state championship. She’s also eager to join the Fighting Irish, who have qualified for the NCAA Tournament for four straight seasons.
Schilmoeller joined her older sister, Erin (a Regis Jesuit grad who is now at the University of Oregon) as a collegiate lacrosse player when she signed with Regis. She loved the chance to stay in Colorado and was glad all her hard work and drive got her a chance to continue to play.
“It was just a really welcoming atmosphere at Regis and it’s D-II, which is a little bit more relaxed, which is kind of how I am,” said Schilmoeller, who Corbett called the most underrated girls lacrosse player in Colorado.
Claire Stemper also plans to play lacrosse in the spring, but her major love is field hockey and she became the first player from that Regis Jesuit program to sign with a Division I school when she firmed up a scholarship offer from the University of Michigan.
An All-State goalie for the past two seasons and likely to be awarded the same honor for this past season — when she helped lead the Raiders to the state semifinals for the first time in six varsity seasons — Stemper was glad to set another bar for the growing program.
“I’m really excited, our program has grown so much,” Stemper said. “Shout out to coach (Spencer) Wagner for helping our team grow. The whole team works together and it feels great to see our program escalate and have somebody go on to play D-I.”
Stemper is looking forward to heading to Ann Arbor to join the Wolverines, who have made the NCAA Tournament 12 times. Michigan finished 18-5 and just lost in the second round of this season’s tournament.
Coach Nick Frasersmith’s Regis Jesuit swim and dive team filled up nearly half the stage, with Division I-bound swimmers in Kaylie Breslin (West Point), Amy Lenderink (Iowa) and Lindsay Painton (Missouri), plus diver McKensi Austin, who is headed to NCAA powerhouse Georgia.
Austin, a two-time 5A state champion who will aim for a third title this winter, joins an elite Georgia diving program that is headed by coach Dan Laak. Laak is a two-time national coach of the year and been on the U.S. coaching staff at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympic games.
“I was confused going into this whole process and didn’t know where I was going to end up, but after my trip to Georgia I was pretty sure that was where I would was going to be,” said Austin, who committed in October. “It’s definitely a really good program and I’m really excited to be challenged by the other athletes there. It’s a whole different game.”
Lenderink started swimming just before she entered high school unlike a lot of other elite swimmers, so she was especially glad that she’ll get a chance to further grow in the sport. She had an inside resource with the Iowa program in Regis Jesuit grad Chris Dawson and fell in love on her visit.
“I knew from the moment I stepped on campus that Iowa was going to be a really special place for me,” Lenderink said. “Other places I went, I didn’t have the same feeling that Iowa gave me. The team, coaches and environment were so welcoming, so it’s going to be a great place for me to thrive and grow.”
Besides serving as one of the key leaders on a Regis Jesuit team that aims to get back on top of 5A after coming in second to Fossil Ridge last season, Lenderink has designs on an individual state title in the 100 yard butterfly, the event she took second in last season. Breslin hopes to be standing next to her on the medal podium as she is intent on a high finish in the event before she heads off to swim at West Point.
“I’m so excited, I’ve wanted to go to a military academy for the last two years,” Breslin said. “It was great to go see the swim team there and to be able to commit to swim with them next year.”
Breslin will have a familiar face on campus, as 2015 Regis Jesuit grad Jess Lewis is a member of the women’s basketball team there.
Painton — who swam on the Raiders’ 5A state championship-winning 200 yard freestyle relay last season along with Lenderink — is headed to the University of Missouri, which also has a Regis Jesuit tie on the roster in diver Kyle Goodwin, a 2015 grad who won four 5A boys state diving championships. Painton will be the second Coloradan on the Tigers’ women’s team, joining former St. Mary’s Academy diving star Alexa Beckwith.
“They really emphasized a great family at Mizzou and it wasn’t forced,” Painton said. “It was just truly a family and everything is just amazing there. They treat everybody so well, so I’m really excited to be a part of it.”
One of Regis Jesuit’s other most prolific programs is landing athletes Division I scholarships is coach Carl Mattei’s girls basketball team, which saw its 32nd player sign with a DI school in 11 varsity seasons when senior TaeKenya Cleveland finalized her offer from American University in Washington, D.C.
Cleveland is intent on studying sports journalism and found a quality program at American, which just happens to play in the Patriot League, where she’ll see two former Regis Jesuit teammates in opposite uniforms in Lewis (Army) and Anna Ptasinski (Lafayette).
She credits playing for Mattei’s program with helping her reach her goal of playing at the next level.
“Part of the reason I chose to coming to Regis was to get an education, but the basketball program has always been great,” Cleveland said. “All the girls know they will be better and have an opportunity to go to college if they want to. Being in that environment with girls who have the same dreams and ambitions as you do, and with a coach that wants to push you to get there, you know you can do anything.”
Ezekia Johnson told Mattei she wanted to play in college — something he said he hadn’t heard before from the second team All-Continental League selection — and she’ll get that chance as she signed with Biola University in La Mirada, California.
An integral member of two of Regis Jesuit’s 5A state champion girls golf teams, senior Mary Weinstein, signed with Regis University.
Weinstein — who finished in a tie for seventh individually at the 5A state tournament in May — will aim to keep the Raiders on top for a third straight season, even as they play for a new coach in Eric Ptolemy, who has been hired to take over the program from retiring coach George Miller.
In a separate signing elsewhere, four members of the Regis Jesuit baseball team — Bo Weiss (North Carolina), Travis Marr (Clemson), Nick Spiliotis (Dayton) and Quin Cotton (Grand Canyon University) — all inked their NLIs.
High jump star Austin Campbell signed with Penn State as well.
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or email@example.com. Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
REGIS JESUIT NLI SIGNEES (NOV. 11)
Boys — Austin Campbell, track (Penn State); Quin Cotton, baseball (Grand Canyon University); Travis Marr, baseball (Clemson); Nick Spiliotis, baseball (Dayton); Bo Weiss, baseball (North Carolina); Girls — McKensi Austin, diving (Georgia); Kaylie Breslin, swimming (West Point Academy); TaeKenya Cleveland, basketball (American University); Ezekia Johnson, basketball (Biola University); Amy Lenderink, swimming (Iowa); Lindsay Painton, swimming (Missouri); Kathleen Roe, lacrosse (Notre Dame); Katie Schilmoeller, lacrosse (Regis University); Claire Stemper, field hockey (Michigan); Mary Weinstein, golf (Regis University)
Full list of Aurora NLI signees by school, here.