It was a celebratory scene as parents and well wishers circled around Kennedy High School soccer stars Nicole Liotta, Franki Priore and Leanna Rodriguez when they signed their letters of intent to play in college on Feb. 5.
With smiles etched across their faces, the trio committed to playing college ball, while their mothers and fathers snapped photos in rapid succession. Craig Papach, Kennedy’s athletic director, spoke briefly, noting the commitment level needed to reach the college level, not only on the part of the athletes, but also by the families who supported them in youth leagues and at Kennedy.
Papach also praised the efforts of Kennedy’s girls’ varsity soccer coach, Janine Bizelia, who worked tirelessly, he said, to ensure that the three would play in college. Donning a hunter green Kennedy sweatshirt, Bizelia posed for photos with each of the players. Afterward, everyone celebrated with a big cake.
Here are profiles on each of the athletes:
•Nicole Liotta, 17, of Merrick, who was Kennedy’s goalie, will play for Division I Central Connecticut State University next year. She plans to study physical therapy. Outside of school, Liotta plays for the East Meadow Soccer Club’s Elite Club National League team.
•Franki Priore, 17, of Merrick, who played center defender at Kennedy, was recruited by Division I Stony Brook University. She wants to study nursing. She, too, plays for East Meadow’s ECNL team.
•Leanna Rodriguez, 17, of Bellmore, one of Kennedy’s utility players, will represent the Division III John Jay College of Criminal Justice next year. She plans to study political science. Outside of school, she plays for the Franklin Square Strikers.