Nine East Fairmont senior sign letters of intent to play collegiate athletics

Apr. 11—PLEASANT VALLEY — Nine East Fairmont High student athletes signed their letters of intent to continue their careers Wednesday on the second and final signing day of the school year.

Athletes signed on at schools from Division I, Division II and Division III.

Headlining the class as the only Division I commit, Dakota Dammeyer signed to compete at Marshall University to throw discus and shot put on the track and field team. He plans to major in exercise physiology with hopes to become a collegiate track coach.

"I went down and I took a tour of the campus, and I really liked the layout of the school as well as all the students," Dammeyer said. "I really got a good vibe from the coaches and from the fellow athletes there. I think it'd be a good fit for me and for my future track career."

Dammeyer didn't think he could go Division I until recently. He suffered a back injury in July and quit football to focus on track, where he saw a lot of progress.

Choosing Marshall over other schools like Cal U (Pennsylvania), he likes how it's still close enough to home he can visit. Dammeyer looks forward to competing against other schools in the Sun Belt Conference.

No school saw as many signings as Division II West Virginia Wesleyan College, receiving three signers from East Fairmont: Kalli Lindsey, Kyleigh Fridley and Carli Ice.

Lindsey chose track for West Virginia Wesleyan over volleyball at Glenville State University. She said she'll be doing shot put and discus and possibly hammer and javelin.

Surrounded by sports almost her whole life, Lindsey will major in athletic training at Wesleyan and plans to do graduate studies at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in Lewisburg. She hopes to become a sports medicine physician for Division I schools or professional teams.

"I've just really liked being in an athletic atmosphere, and I like working with athletes," Lindsey said. "I worked with the athletic trainer for our football team this year, and she really helped me see that it's an awesome profession, and I'd like to do that with my life."

Fridley landed on playing basketball at West Virginia Wesleyan. She specifically looked for schools in West Virginia close to home with basketball and quality exercise science programs. She chose that major after helping her grandmother recover from a stroke.

"My grandma had a stroke a few years back, and I've been to physical therapy with her a few times and talked to some of the people there," Fridley said. "It just seemed like something I would like to do in the future."

Fridley wasn't sure about playing basketball at the college level and considered doing other sports. She ultimately decided to stay on the court after Wesleyan sent her an offer, and Fridley said she felt like she was already on the team after talking with the coach there.

Ice rounds out the Wesleyan commits, signing to play soccer for the Bobcats. Choosing Wesleyan over Glenville State, Fairmont State, West Virginia University and even University of Tennessee, Ice wanted to be close to family and felt at home in Buckhannon when she visited the campus.

"As soon as you stepped on campus, it was a homey atmosphere," Ice said. "I feel like Buckhannon just delivers that homey atmosphere. And most importantly, I had fun. I didn't feel like 'Oh, I'm so lost' while I'm here. And of course my coach is just amazing. The team was welcoming. I didn't feel any regret stepping on campus."

Majoring in environmental science with a minor in biology, Ice cited memories with her grandpa teaching her about agriculture as the reasoning for that path. She said it really stuck with her and she loves learning about agriculture.

Right behind West Virginia Wesleyan in number, Glenville State gained two student athletes on the signing day: Bella Talerico and Ian Crookshanks.

Talerico signed to play softball at Glenville State. She said she didn't look at any other colleges and is excited to continue her softball career at the collegiate level.

"It's just a very nice school," Talerico said. "They have a very good softball program, and I'm very excited to join. ... It's just always been my sport, and I love everything about it."

While unsure of what position on the field she'll play, Talerico said she's majoring in biology, citing her love for science as the main reason. She also said she looks forward to more wins with East Fairmont in her senior year of high school.

Crookshanks' history with Glenville State dates back to the eighth grade, playing a football game at Glenville State against Gilmer County Middle School. He plans to play quarterback at Glenville State but will redshirt his freshman year.

He received offers from other schools, but Crookshanks ultimately decided on Glenville State. He said he likes the way the school recruits most of its players from within state borders.

"I like how Glenville recruits mainly in West Virginia," Crookshanks said. "I like how it's a homegrown West Virginia team. It shows what this state's really about."

Crookshanks plans to major in exercise science and go into prephysical therapy and further his education at Fairmont State or WVU after four years at Glenville State. He sees it as a way to stay in the game of football after his playing days end.

Staying local at Fairmont State, Blake Hunt signed to golf for the Falcons. He didn't always know he'd play golf at college and considered basketball. After making states in golf his junior year at East Fairmont, he decided to stick with it.

While also considering West Virginia Wesleyan, Hunt chose Fairmont State to major in chiropractics. Hunt cited his prior experience with chiropractors helping him as the main reason for that career path.

"I've grown up with some problems with my legs and stuff," Hunt said. "I've gone to a chiropractor, and what they've done just to help me, I just want to help other people with that."

The first Division III commit of the day, Nate Whiteman signed with Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., to play baseball. Working hard from breaking his arm his sophomore year spent at Fairmont Senior, Whiteman will play outfield and pitcher as a two-way player.

Whiteman looked at Penn State Greater Allegheny, Penn State Altoona and Pitt-Greensburg, he chose to major in forensic psychology at Saint Vincent, inspired by his dad, who was a former cop. Whiteman also cited what he experienced during his visits to Saint Vincent as reasons for his decision.

"I went up during the fall, and I felt like home there," Whiteman said. "Did classes with players, and then I went to their ... scrimmage against themselves where they bring like six teams together, and I just felt like home there."

The other Division III signing and final signing of the day at East Fairmont, Taylor Nicholas signed to do sprinting track events at Penn State Harrisburg. She'll major in engineering and do the two-and-two program, transferring to Penn State's main campus in State College, Pa., after two years at Harrisburg.

Nicholas looked at WVU, which doesn't have a track program, and Penn State's main campus, but she would have had to focus on academics and not do track. Harrisburg provided both, and she decided on engineering to make a career out of designing prosthetics.

"I'm hoping to make prosthetics in the future," Nicholas said. "Just being able to help people, athletes in particular, with veterans being the second choice of people to help with that, just was a perfect career choice once I heard about it."

Reach Colin C. Rhodes at 304-367-2548.