Signed, sealed, and delivered.
Nine De La Salle seniors have signed national letters of intent with universities:
- Joey Basha (Diving)
- Adam Burghardt (Golf)
- Craig (CJ) Fritz (Soccer)
- Joseph Gerdes (Baseball)
- AJ Hayes (Lacrosse)
- Lucas Malinowski (Baseball)
- Matthew Rafferty (Soccer)
- Brett Stanley (Football and baseball)
- Seth Waters (Golf)
Joey Basha (Diving - University of Cincinnati)
Basha will be continuing his diving career at the Division I level.
"I worked extremely hard to be able to be competitive at this level and in the most challenging league, like the one Cincinnati competes in (the American Athletic Conference)," Basha said. "I will be diving against the best in the nation. I could not have dreamed of ever being a diver competing at this level, especially after only diving for three years. I am excited to compete as a Bearcat."
A highly decorated high school diver since his freshman year, he's been named the Macomb County Diver of the Year twice, and has been an All-American qualifier three times, including during the 2020 COVID-19 abbreviated season. He's also been named to the Macomb County dream team twice.
Basha credits DLS diving coach Kory Hison and swimming coach Jim Singelyn, a 1990 DLS graduate and three-time All-American swimmer during his time as a student-athlete, with his development in the pool.
Singelyn won't soon forget the impact Basha has made while donning the Purple and Gold.
"Joey made an immediate impact the day he walked onto the pool deck, taking his gymnastics background -- where one lands on his feet -- and turning those aerial abilities into dives," Singelyn said. "It's very rare that a student-athlete competes at the state level all four years of high school, and scores massive points for the team. But, Joey is one of the rare athletes to come through the school with multiple all-state and All-American honors."
Adam Burghardt (Golf - Wayne State University)
Burghardt has excelled both on and off the golf course during his time at DLS.
A member of the varsity golf team since his freshman year, he has helped the Pilots achieve numerous team feats, including winning the 2019 Macomb County tournament and finishing ninth in the 2019 MHSAA Division 1 state tournament. Burghardt's efforts, including a second-place finish in the 2019 Macomb County tourney, helped him earn first-team All-Macomb County honors for the season.
All the while, he's been a standout student, with a 4.192 GPA. And, he's been a member of DLS's National Honor Society and Student Council.
DLS golf coach Doug McKay is extremely proud of the way Burghardt, a captain on the 2021 team, has carried himself on and off the course.
"Adam is a great leader, great golfer, and great student-athlete," McKay said. "He's organized all the offseason practices, keeps records of all the players, and works with the younger players extremely well."
Burghardt is excited for the opportunity that lies ahead of him at Wayne State -- an opportunity that he believes he is ready for because of the never-give-up mentality he has learned from his time at DLS.
"One of the lessons that I will take from the hallways of DLS into my future at Wayne State is the importance of never giving up," Burghardt commented. "As students, we are pushed to never quit, whether it has to do with our academics, our athletics, or ourselves. I am thankful for this, as DLS has assisted in the development of my mindset into one that is focused around strength and persistence."
Craig (CJ) Fritz (Soccer - Mercyhurst University, Erie, PA)
Coming off a terrific senior campaign in which he scored 15 goals and contributed 19 assists -- the second-most assists in a single season in DLS history -- Fritz is headed to Mercyhurst in Pennsylvania.
He decided to sign with the university after visiting the campus.
"When I visited a few weeks ago, I just loved the environment there," Fritz said. "It's a beautiful campus, with a five-minute walk from there to Lake Erie and the beach. I also met the coaching staff and a few players, and just really loved the experience."
He helped lead the Pilots to a 15-3-3 mark in 2020, including a regional final appearance against Catholic League rival Detroit Catholic Central -- just one of the many games in which Fritz was the "best player on the field," according to DLS soccer coach Thaier Mukhtar.
Fritz received all-state honorable mention honors for his efforts as a senior. Mukhtar believes he deserved that and much more for the immense impact he made on the team, including contributing to a DLS-high 34 goals for the 2020 season.
"By far, he was one of the top attacking players by the end of the season," Mukhtar said. "He was also always accountable, and never missed anything. There's no question that he will be very difficult to replace."
Joseph Gerdes (Baseball - Lourde University, Sylvania, OH)
Gerdes, who transferred in from Utica Eisenhower at the start of his 10th grade year, has learned a myriad of lessons in his time walking the hallways of the Collegiate.
"Being at DLS has taught me how to act as a man, and I believe it has molded me into a better student, which will help me as I move on to the next level," Gerdes said.
Speaking of the "next level," he has decided to sign with Lourdes University for baseball.
"I chose Lourdes because it's a nice Catholic school, and I thought it was the right fit for me," Gerdes said.
DLS faculty member David Slusser, '93, who was Gerdes' junior varsity baseball coach, believes Gerdes will succeed at the next level.
"Joe Gerdes is a hard worker who supports his teammates, and is a player who will get the job done," Slusser said.
AJ Hayes (Lacrosse - Adrian College, Adrian, MI)
An exemplary leader on and off the lacrosse field, Hayes is more than deserving of the opportunity he has garnered for himself at Adrian College.
He has put in the hard work and time at De La Salle, and is now reaping the benefits.
"Playing at De La Salle has never been super easy. You can't go through the motions in practice, and then expect to be game ready," Hayes commented. "But, every step of the way, I've been proud to wear the Purple and Gold."
Hayes will head off to Adrian in the fall, a place where he instantly felt at home.
"You know, I stepped on campus, and Coach (Brett) Wetzel (Adrian's head lacrosse coach) made me feel at home right away," Hayes said. "And I knew after that first visit, that Adrian was where I wanted to be. And, I never wavered on that decision."
According to DLS varsity lacrosse head coach Zach Issa, '09, Hayes is very much like "a coach" when he steps on the field.
"He's (Hayes) is probably one of the best leaders I've had in my tenure as a head coach -- and because he leads by example," Issa said. "He'll never tell a kid to do something that he isn't willing to do himself. If you ever come to a lacrosse game, you will hear him on the field before you hear me. And that's always a good sign."
Lucas Malinowski (Baseball - Cornerstone University, Grand Rapids, MI)
Malinowski has learned the importance of working hard and pushing his teammates while at DLS, and next spring, he will get the chance to continue that on the baseball diamond for Cornerstone.
"What got me to sign there is when I was on my visit, everything looked brand new, everything was up-to-date," Malinowski said. "All the coaches were very nice, and they gave me the best opportunity of following my college dream of playing baseball."
Before he embarks on his college career at Cornerstone, though, the 6-foot-3, 170-pounder will look to continue his dominance on the pitching mound for the Pilots this spring.
It's something that DLS baseball coach Steve Schypinski, '06, is certainly looking forward to from the right-hander.
"Lucas is a returning pitcher with a big right arm, and will be in the mix for some significant innings on the mound this upcoming season," Schypinski said. "Lucas lost his junior season to the pandemic, so we are really excited about how his development over the last few years translates to the field."
Matthew Rafferty (Soccer - Madonna University, Livonia, MI)
Rafferty is set to continue his soccer career at Madonna University.
Pilots varsity soccer head coach Thaier Mukhtar believes Madonna is getting a top-tier two-way player.
"Matt Rafferty is one of the best two-way players I have ever coached," Mukhtar said. "His ability to get into the attack and track back to defend is second-to-none. He's one of the best-conditioned athletes I have ever coached, as he can go hard for 80 minutes. If I was a college coach at any level, I would want Rafferty on my squad."
Rafferty, meanwhile, has been able to glean a myriad of valuable lessons from Mukhtar.
"There aren't a lot of coaches like Mukhtar. He really cares about you as a person. Cares about your life in general," Rafferty expressed. "He's going to demand the best effort from you. There are kids who definitely don't like how demanding it is. But, at the end of the day, it really pays off, and I think it certainly did for me."
Rafferty believes that Madonna is "a great fit" for him.
"When I trained with the (Madonna) team, I just felt really welcomed there. I fit in right away," Rafferty said. "I loved the players, and just really love the school and what it has to offer."
Seth Waters (Golf - Lake Superior State University, Sault Ste. Marie, MI)
Waters has decided to stay in state and golf collegiately at a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) school.
He signed with Lake Superior State in late February -- and not just because of the appeal of golfing at the next level.
He was also attracted to the university because of the business school updates.
Coach McKay believes Lake Superior State is getting the definition of a "hard worker" in Waters.
"Seth is absolutely one of the hardest workers on the team, and the accumulation of this work ethic is his signing with Lake Superior State," McKay said. "I could not be prouder of him, as he has worked his way up -- through a very talented team -- to establish a leading/starting role for the 2021 DLS varsity golf team."