By BRIAN JENNINGS
Three girls, three sports, and three pens. On Friday, March 20, Alex Barmore, Hayley Arduini, and Alexa Luponio sat before their families and coaches to sign letters of intent to continue their athletic careers at the collegiate level.
Barmore has committed to play tennis at Endicott College in Beverly, Mass. The Gulls have won the Commonwealth Coastal Conference for four straight years.
“They’re very good for Division III and conference play,” said Barmore. “I feel like I’ll go up there and fit in very well with it. I’m looking to improve at any opportunity. It’s a very solid program.”
Barmore is planning to study sports management, and that figured into her decision. Endicott offers possibilities to intern with organizations like the New England Patriots, Boston Celtics, or Boston Bruins through the school’s internship program.
Barmore is going into her fourth year as a starter of the Southington Lady Knights tennis team. As the top singles player, Barmore has led the Knights to consecutive post-season tournament berths and has participated in the state open tournament. She worked her way up from fourth singles as a freshman to play No. 2 singles as a sophomore and No. 1 singles last spring. She was named captain as a junior and will continue to lead in her final season.
“I’ve grown up with the senior girls on the team now for four years,” she said. “It’s a different environment when you’re playing in high school. You’re going out there and playing for your team like you do in college, but it’s just a different feeling. My family comes and supports me at all my matches, but it won’t be happening as much when I’m two hours away. Leaving my coaches will be the hardest part.”
Barmore credits her high school coach, Robin Thompson, as a key to her high school success. Their scrimmages can sometimes be more intense than a varsity match.
“Whenever we play, I might beat her or she might beat me,” she said. “There’s always trash talking involved. The competitive level that we’re at is very intense. I would go out on the court every day and go at it with her in a very funny, casual way. I’ll miss that more than anything.”
Barmore won’t be alone at Endicott. Arduini also plans to attend the Massachusetts school. Arduini signed a letter of intent to play softball for the Gulls, a division III school with 14 consecutive conference titles. It came down to Endicott and Western New England.
“I visited Endicott four or five times over the past year, watched the softball team play, and met with the coaches,” she said. “Every time I went, I felt like I was where I was supposed to be. There was never second-guessing it. I just loved everything about the college.”
Arduini plans to major in psychology.
“I had a job working at the YMCA and loved working with kids,” she said. “So I’m hoping with a major in psychology, I can take that into working with kids and help them out at a younger age as they grow up.”
Arduini started playing tee ball when she was six years old, moving her way up to playing softball at Panthorn Park in Southington, and hasn’t taken a year off since. She is entering her fourth year as a varsity starter for the Knights softball team.
Arduini plays right field and middle infield, helping the Knights win back-to-back Class LL State Championships in the past two seasons with only one loss in their record.
“I’m going to miss my friends,” she said. “I’ve been playing with a lot of the girls on the team since we were eight or nine years old. It’s going to be really hard looking onto the field next year with new faces. I’m going to miss the girls the most.”
Luponio said that she was also looking at Endicott, and she almost followed Barmore and Arduini up there as well, if it weren’t for the recruitment from a college more north. Traveling all over New England to participate in tournaments led Luponio to her eventual recruitment to Plymouth State University, where she will continue her journey through the sport she has been playing for most of her life.
“It’s kind of cliché, but I walked onto their campus and said to myself, this is where I belong,” she said. “I got that feeling when I was there. I met the team and everyone was great. They were so welcoming. I already have friends on the team. I liked the location and it all fell into place.”
Luponio will be joining a Plymouth State Panthers lacrosse program that is coming as the Little East Conference Champions this past season.
“It’s a very intense program and I’m very excited to continue my career with them,” she said.
In seventh grade, Luponio started volunteering at a nursing home called Mulberry Gardens in Southington and wanted to continue her love for helping people by pursue a degree in Nursing.
“The nursing program just felt right for me,” she said. “I fell in love with being around people. When I was spending my time there, I would once a week for a couple hours a day. I just wanted to help people and they introduced me to that career.”
As an attack midfielder for the Knights, Alexa Luponio has been playing lacrosse for nine seasons.
Starting lacrosse in fourth grade with the Southington Lacrosse Association, Luponio earned her letter in her freshman year as an attack midfielder. In 2013, she scored 17 goals and had four assists as a sophomore. In 2014, she had 30 goals and eight assists as a junior.
“It’s the intensity of the game, the team work, and the determination to get the ball and score a goal is what I love about lacrosse,” said Luponio. It’s incorporating your teammates because it’s not just a one-person sport. It’s everyone working together to win a game.”
Luponio said she will miss how her coach, Jill Pomposi, was always uplifting.
“Coach Pomposi always says the right stuff to make me want to do better for my team,” she said. “Her determination for us to do better makes me determined to do better for everyone else.”
Luponio was chosen for Conn. Super Juniors and was selected to play in their 2014 Super Junior game.
Even when she is not playing lacrosse for Southington, Luponio still stays involved with the Southington youth lacrosse programs, and currently volunteers as a conditioning coach. Outside of the Southington High School lacrosse program, Luponio has played for the Lax Plus Lacrosse Club.