In front of a sizable assembly of parents, teammates and fellow students, Lambert High School had 21 of its athletes sign on Wednesday morning to play their respective sports at the next level.
Five of them came from the school’s girls soccer team, a squad that has been among Lambert’s most successful over the last few years, winning the Class 7A state title in 2017 and falling just short of another title in the state championship game this past spring. But even after that heartbreaking loss in penalties to North Gwinnett, Sydney Hennessey takes great pride when she looks back on all she’s been a part of.
“It's honestly been an honor, because this program has just been so successful over the years, and the fact that we've been able to contribute, especially freshman year and last year, it makes us feel so proud of the family we've become a part of,” she said.
Wednesday was about looking to the future, though. After her final season with the Longhorns, Hennessey, a 2019 All-County selection who totaled six goals and 15 assists as a junior, will be heading north to play soccer at Tennessee. Teammates Ellie Christensen, Taylor Clark and Melina West all signed with Mercer, Tennessee Tech, and UAB, respectively.
“Everything's kind of coming into place,” Sydney Hennessey said. “We've worked so hard for this for two years, three years since we started our committing process. It's finally official – we're finally going to be able to go to the schools we want to.”
Hennessey will have some company from her current team joining her in the SEC, though, with teammate Madison Haugen signing to play at Georgia. She’ll certainly being some firepower to the Bulldogs: The reigning All-County girls soccer player of the year was Lambert’s primary scorer last season, totaling 33 goals, six hat tricks and 15 assists.
Haugen and Hennessey have of course been supportive of each other, but they’re already playfully preparing for the coming years when they’ll be pitted against each other.
“It's been back and forth, here and there,” Hennessey said with a laugh. “It's all fun and games. It’ll definitely make it easier to transition.”
Lambert’s softball team tied with the girls soccer team for the most signees, also sending five players to compete at the next level. Pitcher Brooke Miller will join the North Carolina Tar Heels, while teammates Anna Jackson, Lindsey Nelson, Allie Sewell and Kaley Varner signed with Berry College, Samford University, Appalachian State and Belmont University, respectively.
The Longhorns’ baseball team had two signees to North Georgia in Garrett Hollenbeck and Reid Howard, while Daniel Fischer and Blake Hyman signed with Flagler College and Berry. Aidan Duca and Gabrielle DiVirgilio represented Lambert’s lacrosse programs, signing with Anderson University and Mercer University.
The boys basketball program, also a team with considerable success in the last few years, had two signees in Luke Champion and Colin Granger, who will attend Samford and Ohio University. Ally Hall was the lone signee from volleyball, choosing Middle Tennessee State.
Boys soccer players Trey Kirksey and Campbell Wilson are coming off a Class 7A state championship, and will look to help the Longhorns to a repeat before heading to Birmingham Southern and East Tennessee State.
For Haugen and Hennessey, their final year playing soccer at Lambert will be all about one word.
“Redemption. Going back and proving to people that we're the best,” Haugen said. “Our goal is to win the state championship, so I hope we can do that.”