In front of family, friends and faculty members on Wednesday, December 11, five East Hampton student athletes signed their national letters of intent to continue their athletic careers in college.
Sports will remain a big part of student life for Maggie Pizzo, Marina Preiss, Raya O’Neal, Cortland Heneveld and Amanda Seekamp next year, when they enter their freshman year of college. Pizzo will play lacrosse at Yale, Seekamp will play lacrosse at Hofstra, Preiss will swim at San Diego State, Heneveld will play lacrosse at the Naval Academy, and O’Neal will play volleyball at Hampton. All of the schools are Division I programs.
The athletes took time after a photo opportunity in the school library to talk about how they settled on their schools of choice.
Preiss, a five-year varsity member of the Lady Bonackers swim team who qualified for the New York State meet in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle races in all but one year on the team, said she had a great feeling about San Diego State from the start.
“I went on a recruiting trip in October and fell in love with it,” she said. “Everyone said that you’ll just know [when you find the school you want], and it’s actually true. It just felt right.”
O’Neal was also a five-year varsity player, shining as a setter and hitter for the Lady Bonackers. She set school records in several statistical categories, was the League VI Player of the Year this season, and was an All-County and All-State Fourth Team selection. She becomes the first player in the East Hampton volleyball program history to attend a Division I school.
O’Neal said she had a great feeling after visiting Hampton as well, saying she loved the team, campus and coaching staff, which made it a perfect fit.
Seekamp has been a standout midfielder for the Lady Bonackers since joining the varsity as an eighth-grader. She is a two-time All-County player who led Long Island in assists as a sophomore. She is East Hampton’s all-time leader in career assists. She was drawn to Hofstra because of her familiarity with head coach Shannon Smith, who is the coach of her high school travel team. Seekamp added that Hofstra’s location was a big draw as well. “It’s close to home, but it’s also close to the city, so it can bring good opportunities,” she said.
Pizzo, a teammate of Seekamp, has also been a standout midfielder on varsity since her eighth grade year. Pizzo is a three-time All-County player, East Hampton’s all-time leading scorer, and she led the team in points, draw controls and ground balls last year. She visited Yale in her sophomore year, and the school has been a top choice ever since.
“I immediately fell in love with the campus,” she said. Pizzo added she felt a bond with the team members after spending a night there for a recruiting visit, and also got to attend classes during her stay. She said the strong academic reputation was a big draw as well.
Heneveld is following a family tradition by attending the Naval Academy. His brother, Heath Heneveld, is a graduate of the school and played for its ice hockey team, while his other brother, Austin Heneveld, is currently in his senior year on the lacrosse team. Heneveld has been a captain for the Bonac lacrosse team the last two years, was Rookie of the Year in 2012 and earned All-League honors last season. Over the last two seasons, he has amassed 58 points for East Hampton.
Heneveld said that a strong desire to join the military was a major factor in his decision. “I want to serve my country after I graduate,” he said. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was little.”
Two of Heneveld’s uncles attended the Naval Academy—one became an admiral, and the other was a Sea Bee. His grandfather also served in World War II. Because of his familiarity with the school, Heneveld said he never considered any other schools.