7 Deerfield Academy athletes sign National Letters of Intent

  • Six smiling Deerfield Academy athletes pose for a photo Wednesday after committing to colleges on National Letter of Intent signing day. contributed photo/deerfield academy

  • Six smiling Deerfield Academy athletes pose for a photo Wednesday after committing to colleges on National Letter of Intent signing day. contributed photo/deerfield academy

  • Six smiling Deerfield Academy athletes pose for a photo Wednesday after committing to colleges on National Letter of Intent signing day. contributed photo/deerfield academy

Recorder Staff
Wednesday, February 07, 2018

DEERFIELD — Holding back a sheepish grin, Cabrel Happi Kamseu admitted Wednesday’s National Signing Day wasn’t something he was all that familiar with. Growing up in Harare, Zimbabwe, Happi Kamseu said the idea of signing a National Letter of Intent to play college soccer wasn’t exactly on the radar.

“To be honest, I didn’t know about Signing Day until probably last month,” he said with a laugh. “Growing up in Africa playing soccer you don’t know what the next step is going to be. But it’s comforting to know that I have the next step figured out.”

Happi Kamseu was one of seven Deerfield Academy student-athletes who took part in signing their National Letters of Intent (NLI) on Wednesday. Athletes nationwide in the sports of football, soccer and water polo were able to sign their letters on Wednesday, and the prestigious prep school held an on-campus ceremony in the Stoltzfus Room.

Happi Kamseu, who scored 17 goals for the Big Green this past fall, was the lone soccer player to sign their NLI on Wednesday. He’ll play collegiately at the University of Virginia, one of the top programs in the ACC and the nation.

“They were consistent in wanting me throughout the process,” Happi Kamseu said of UVA, which finished 12-3-5 overall and reached the second round of the NCAA Division I Tournament in 2017. “They were always there. And then I went to visit the school and really fell in love with the place.”

Six members of the DA football team signed on the dotted line to play at Division I institutions next year. Wide receiver/defensive back Inho Choi (Columbia), lineman Josh Stevens (Georgetown), tight end Mike Bevino (Colgate), linebacker DeAndre Byrd (Sacred Heart), running back Keegan McHugh (Dartmouth) and lineman Niko Kvietkus (New Hampshire) were all honored Wednesday. Kvietkus and Bevino had already signed theirs during the Early Signing Period on Dec. 20.

“It’s awesome,” began Deerfield Academy football coach Brian Barbato of the Signing Day festivities. “It’s the culmination of a lot of effort and hard work that these kids have put in to get here. When you take a postgraduate year here like all these kids did, you’re really investing in yourself for the future. It’s fun to have been along for the ride with all of them and their families, and see how it’s all played out in the end.”

The signing class is headed to an impressive list of academic and athletic institutions. McHugh, who is from Forest Hill, Md., and attended Deerfield after graduating from Bel Air (Md.) High School, said the allure of attending a prestigious Ivy League school was a deciding factor in signing with Dartmouth.

“Getting an education from a place like Dartmouth, that’s unmatched,” said McHugh, who led Deerfield in rushing yards and touchdowns. “I wanted to use my ability with football to get in somewhere that I probably normally wouldn’t have been able to. I really liked all the coaches. That was a big part of it as well. I got along well with them and liked what they had to say.”

While some players have known their future landing spot for some time, Byrd’s decision to attend Sacred Heart was made just this week. A native of Atlanta, Ga., Byrd had some Division I offers last year but decided to hold off and go the PG route at Deerfield. He chose Sacred Heart over the University of New Hampshire.

“Coming to Deerfield, that was the best decision for me,” said Byrd, who wants to study finance and business at the Fairfield, Conn., school. “It’s been a surreal week. I made my decision (Monday). It feels good to have it done. Now I’m just looking forward to the future. It’s exciting.”

One common theme among the postgrads was the fact that all of them watched classmates a year ago sign their NLIs. Bevino graduated from Notre Dame Catholic High School in Fairfield, Conn., a year ago before deciding on a PG year at Deerfield.

“It was tough last year seeing everyone go off to college, and it felt like I was going off to another year of high school,” he admitted. “But had I not come here, I’m not sure where I’d be right now. This is a summary of all the hard work everyone up here put in.”

A native of Ruskin, Fla., Stevens agreed with the difficult task it was to watch his peers head to college a year ago.

“Last year, seeing my senior friends signing and going off to school, that was pretty hard,” he said. “It was a huge culture shock for me. Coming here from Florida, it took some adjusting. But the whole process has been worth it. (DA is) almost like a mini-college. This year has prepared me and I’m ready for the challenge academically (at Georgetown) next year.”

This year’s signing class was a diverse one indeed for the Big Green. Choi came to Deerfield from Windsor, Ontario, and the Canadian will study business at Columbia.

“I’ve always said that I was going to take football as far as I can go,” Choi began. “Columbia was my first (scholarship) offer and they stuck with me. So to play there and get to study business in New York City… that’s a dream right there.”

Deerfield went 6-3 overall this past fall on the gridiron. The team earned an invitation to the NEPSAC Mike Atkins New England Championship Bowl for the first time since 2002.