Signed, sealed, and delivered.
Ten De La Salle seniors have signed national letters of intent with universities:
- Joey Basha (Diving)
- Adam Burghardt (Golf)
- Preston Earl (Cross-country and track)
- 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."
Preston Earl (Cross country and track and field - Northwood University, Midland, MI)
Earl will be "running off" to Northwood in the fall, where he will continue both his cross country and track and field careers.
He put together a terrific senior season as part of the DLS cross country team, finishing first among Pilots runners in every race.
He qualified for the 2020 MHSAA cross country state meet at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich., recording a time of 16:40.62 at the meet -- the fourth time he had hit the 16:40 mark during the season.
Earl had recorded a PR time of 16:11.9 a week prior in state regional competition at Detroit's Chandler Park Golf Course.
A standout inside the classroom, as well, with a 3.9 GPA to his name, he will fondly remember his time walking the hallways of De La Salle.
"Being at De La Salle has meant everything to me," Earl commented. "The people, my teammates and friends, all the way to the coaches and teachers constantly pushing me to be my best. The amount of time and the level of dedication they've committed to me are definitely two things you can't find everywhere."
Former De La Salle cross country head coach Sandy Buchanan believes that Earl will fit in very well at Northwood.
"Northwood's getting a piece of clay, and inside that clay is a diamond," Buchanan said about Earl. "And, what they need to do is expand upon what he's learned in his two years of cross country and three years of track and field, and really show him what that next level looks like and find that appropriate event or multiple events for him to do."
Earl is excited for the challenges that lie ahead for himself, from both an academic and athletic standpoint. He's planning on studying business at Northwood, whose business program was a big draw for him.
"First and foremost, I made the decision to sign at Northwood based on academics. Northwood has a very strong business school," Earl said. "Additionally, when I visited, I really enjoyed the campus. And, to top it off was the athletics. Northwood's cross country coach, Coach (Jeremy) Wilk, is someone who seems like he has the best interests of his athletes in mind, just like Coach Sandy, Coach Jill (Suminski) and Coach Jerry (Jackson), which is something, once again, you can't find in many places."
Earl aspires to become either a data analytics or international business professional.
He added, "As De La Salle has taught me, it's student-athlete, not athlete-student."
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."
Brett Stanley, (Baseball and Football - Northwood University
Stanley decided to sign with Northwood University -- located in Midland, Mich. -- because he felt that he "would fit their program and school really well."
Another factor for Stanley was his father Mark being a Northwood alum. As Stanley put it, it was important to him to "keep the tradition going."
De La Salle's "Builders of Boys, Makers of Men" motto couldn't be any truer than with Stanley, a 3.35 GPA student and three-sport athlete.
One of his strongest qualities is leadership. And it's a large reason why his teammates and coaches selected him as a captain in all three of his sports at least once (football and baseball once and wrestling twice).
He suited up at a myriad of positions on the football field over the last few years, including at running back, slot receiver, cornerback, kick returner and punt returner.
As his sophomore season began, he primarily played on special teams, while sparingly playing on offense.
Yet, he continued to stay positive and study film, and worked his way into the starting running back role by Week 8, playing a key role in the Pilots earning the MHSAA Division 2 state championship in 2018.
This past season, he played an integral role in helping DLS return to the state finals at Ford Field.
In 12 games, he rushed for 822 yards and 11 touchdowns, and also amassed 1,918 all-purpose yards, including a team-high 198 all-purpose yards in DLS's loss to Muskegon Mona Shores in the Div. 2 state title game.
He also produced the game-winning score in the Pilots' 26-20 overtime victory over Oak Park in the state semifinal round.
Additionally, on defense, he totaled 42 combined tackles, seven tackles for loss, two interceptions and a sack.
Throughout his three-year varsity football career, he garnered numerous accolades, including first-team All-Catholic League honors in 2019 and 2020 and first-team All-Macomb County running back honors in 2020.
He was also named to State Champs' 2020 Mr. Football Watch List, as well as the Detroit Free Press' 2020 Division 2 all-state team at defensive back.
Stanley attributes all the accolades and honors he has received to his ability to be coachable and adaptable.
It's something that Pilots varsity football headman Dan Rohn can definitely attest to. And through leading by example, Stanley made his teammates better, according to Rohn.
"Brett Stanley has left his mark on DLS athletics," Rohn said. "As great of a football player as he is, he is an even better person. Always working to make himself, the team, and his teammates better."
As for Stanley's wrestling career, in his first three years of participating in the sport at De La Salle (freshman-junior year), he made it to the state tournament -- the only three-time state wrestling qualifier in DLS history -- while competing in bigger weight classes and against older athletes.
And despite that being the case, he managed to attain all-state honors as both a sophomore and a junior.
In doing so, he became the first-ever two-time all-state wrestler in DLS school history. And, while participating in the 2020 MHSAA state tournament, he finished fifth in the 160-pound division -- the best finish ever for a Pilots wrestler.
Throughout the entirety of Stanley's time as a part of the wrestling program at De La Salle, his high degree of leadership has stood out to Pilots athletic director and former varsity wrestling coach Dennis Parks.
"He's a quiet leader. He's one of those guys that isn't going to say anything. He's just going to do it and lead by example," Parks said.
Despite being a multi-sport athlete, Stanley's also never been the type of individual to take time off in going from one sport to the next -- an example of his "commitment" to his craft, according to Parks.
"Most kids are begging for a week off after completing one sport and going to the next. But, not Brett," Parks said. "I was surprised this year to see the wrestling guys doing conditioning, and I went over and Brett was right there in the weight room with them, just days after the (football) state final. His commitment to his craft is beyond impressive."
He's also had a successful career on the baseball diamond during his time at the Collegiate.
He was a member of back-to-back district championship teams in 2018 and 2019, and received All-Catholic League honors in 2019 as well as honorable mention All-Macomb County honors in '19.
And, he's expected to be a significant member of the Pilots' varsity baseball squad this spring, according to head coach Steve Schypinski.
"Brett is going to be one of our top guys headed into 2021. Brett is an accomplished two-way player who relishes the big-time moments," Schypinski said. "He will be in the middle of the batting order and also see significant time on the mound."
He added, "Brett is a leader on and off the field who any coach can trust to do the right thing. And, the fact that he's committed to Northwood University to play two sports is an accomplishment in itself. We look forward to a big spring from Brett."
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."