Fitton, Casparius highlight Staples Division I signing class
WESTPORT—Wednesday marked the official end to the high school senior recruiting season. For a dozen standouts, the day served as a symbolic beginning of a new journey.
Twelve Staples Division I student athletes were honored in a ceremony on Wednesday. Charlotte Rossi (Fordham), Lydia Shaw (Yale), Tia Zajec (Bucknell), Ryan Fitton (UConn), Ivy Prince (Bucknell), Zak Ahmad (Penn), Tanner Wood (Syracuse), Ethan Burger (Vermont), Colleen Bannon (Lafayette), Olivia Troy (UConn), Ben Casparius (North Carolina) and Rob Stone (Holy Cross) sat along the same table in front of family and friends at a packed Staples cafeteria.
Prior to even introducing his prized recruit at tight end, Wreckers football coach Marce Petroccio noted in his 24 seasons at the school, he had never seen this many Division I student athletes from the same class.
Staples Athletic Director Marty Lisevick and Principal James D’Amico began the ceremony with statements about the group. Lisevick noted that particularly the rise of the girls programs — which made up of exactly half of the signees — has been remarkable.
"To have six Division I athletes on the girls side," Lisevick said. "If you’d see where this was 17 years ago, where we barely had a girls lacrosse program, barely had a girls soccer program. Now we’re winning state championships in field hockey and producing kids like these."
Last July the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Fitton — who also pitched for the Wreckers the past two seasons — committed to UConn under then coach Bob Diaco, who was dismissed after the Huskies went 3-9 a year ago.
A wrench was thrown in plans with the coaching change, as other schools began to contact Fitton to see if he was interested in jumping. But Fitton remained steadfast in wanting to represent the state the he grew up on.
"I realized UConn I where I wanted to go," Fitton said. "Playing for my home state, they have a great coaching staff up there. And I think they have potential to do great things. They got me hooked and I didn’t want to go anywhere else."
Fitton is also excited for the return of Edsall, who helped lead the Huskies from obscurity as a football program to the Fiesta Bowl in 2011.
"How (Edsall) brought them from a I-AA team to being a powerhouse team in just a couple of years. Once he gets rolling there its unlimited what we can do up there. There’s so much he can do with this staff and the players he’s bringing in."
He had one final message for the community.
"Just so you know, UConn's football stadium is only an hour-and-a-half away," Fitton said. "So reserve your season tickets today."
Casparius hit .350 with four home runs last spring; he was also 2-2 with a 2.30 ERA with 31 strikeouts in 24 innings as a pitcher. He committed to the school in July, 2015 and continued to hone his craft to the notice of Major League Baseball.
Wreckers coach Jack McFarland noted in his introductory speech that Casparius will likely be the most decorated baseball player the school has produced
"It’s such an honor to me," Casparius said. "It’s something I don’t think about every day because I strive to work to be the best as I can. But to get recognition like that from a high-profile coach really does mean a lot and the work I put in was for (McFarland) and this team."
He was named first team All-FCIAC as a utility player last spring for the Wreckers.
Teammate Rob Stone went 2-1 with 21 strikeouts and a 2.63 ERA in 18 innings.
Zajec, Shaw and Rossi were all four-year starters for the Wreckers girls soccer team, which has quickly become one of the top programs in the state under the trio’s guidance. All three are attack minded players who have poured in the goals at Staples — have played for years with one another at the youth and club level.
“Words can’t express how proud we are of the three girls who are going Division I for girls soccer,” said assistant coach Mackenzie Pretty.
Wreckers track legend Laddie Lawrence noted that Ahmad became the 28th All-American in the history of the program. The comparisons between Ahmad and Henry Wynne — the two will compete in the high school and college portions of the Millrose at the Armory in New York City later this month — are natural.
"In 2013 when Henry Wynne graduated, everyone was wondering who the next great Staples distance runner was going to be," Lawrence said. "It didn’t take too long before we found out."
Bannon and Troy are each multi-sport standouts who have played lacrosse under coach Steph Calabrese in and out of the season. Bannon developed into one of the best field hockey players in the state this fall and was named second team All-FCIAC in lacrosse last spring.