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GOOD NEWS!: Three RCS athletes taking it to the next level in college

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By Melanie Lekocevic

Capital Region Independent Media

Three RCS graduating seniors will take their sport to the college level in the coming academic year. Pictured, left to right, are Sara Hotaling, Aidan Lochner and Hannah VanDerzee. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

RAVENA-COEYMANS-SELKIRK — Three of RCS’s top athletes signed letters of commitment to play their sport at the college level.

RCS record-breaker Hannah VanDerzee will play basketball for SUNY New Paltz; football player Aidan Lochner signed on with SUNY Cortland; and Sara Hotaling will play basketball for Utica University.

The Athletics Department hosted a commitment letter signing outside the main high school gym to showcase the three athletes’ accomplishments in taking their sport to the next level.

“These individuals have excelled academically and athletically as student-athletes here at RCS,” Jennifer Murphy, director of athletics, said to open the signing ceremony. “They have also contributed to the culture of the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk Central School District as leaders and as citizens.”

Hannah VanDerzee was the first to sign her letter of commitment to play for SUNY New Paltz as a forward. Head Coach Jackie Hotaling spoke of VanDerzee’s commitment to her sport and to her team. Hotaling also coached her back when VanDerzee was getting her start in the sport in third grade.

RCS basketball star Hannah VanDerzee signs her letter of commitment to play for SUNY New Paltz. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

“I’ve had the pleasure of watching her blossom into the young lady that she is and of course the athlete that she is,” Hotaling said. “Not only is she a phenomenal basketball player but a well-rounded athlete as a whole. She has worked tirelessly to be an exceptional player.”

During her high school career VanDerzee was a record breaker, and in her senior year became RCS High School’s all-time leading scorer in girls’ basketball. She was also on multiple all-star teams at the Colonial Council and at the state level.

“That doesn’t come just by picking up a basketball between November and February,” Hotaling said. “That comes from dedicating countless hours in the off-season, in the summer, after practice, before practice, not only on the court but in the weight room.”

Hannah VanDerzee, seated, with her family at the letter of commitment signing outside the high school gym. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

VanDerzee said she is thrilled to get on the court for SUNY New Paltz.

“The program I am going into is very good, they are very competitive and it’s a winning program,” she said. “Being able to go into that as a freshman, I am super excited to be able to continue with them through college.”

Football player Aidan Lochner signed on to play outside linebacker for SUNY Cortland. Head Coach Gary VanDerzee — who, incidentally, is also Hannah VanDerzee’s grandfather — said the achievement was well earned.

Football player Aidan Lochner will play outside linebacker for SUNY Cortland in the fall. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

“Aidan is what I would call a generational athlete, one of those few that comes along and you have the privilege to coach,” VanDerzee said. “He not only performed at a high level; what made him that good was that he brought the others along and made those around him better. He made them want to play, want to succeed, want to live up to his abilities and his expectations. And that was a leading factor in us making it to the state semi-finals the last two years.”

Lochner is looking forward to playing defense for SUNY Cortland.

“I am very excited. Everybody there was very welcoming,” Lochner said. “I just want to get back out on the field.”

Lochner will hit the gridiron in the fall for SUNY Cortland. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

Sara Hotaling will continue her basketball career at Utica University in the fall. Head Coach Jackie Hotaling is also her mother and has coached her for years.

“We are very proud of her as a family and myself as her coach as well, that she is going to be able to continue on in the sport in college,” Jackie Hotaling said. “She spends countless hours playing basketball — in the driveway, in the house, and certainly playing in high-level AAU clubs, in summer ball and watching it on TV, which is something a lot of young people don’t do now.”

Athlete Sara Hotaling, seated, with her family at the commitment letter signing, including her mother and coach, Jackie Hotaling, far right. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

Hotaling was sidelined for a time with knee injuries, but that only served to give her a different perspective on the game, her coach and mom said.

“She learned what it was like to sit on the bench, to see the game unfolding, and one day I think she will make a phenomenal coach when her playing days are over,” the head coach said. “Sara is one of those players who is a true leader — she isn’t flashy, she doesn’t score the most points, but she is that steadying force on your club that you know you can give her the ball and she will get done what needs to get done.”

Sara also played soccer in high school but will only continue her basketball career in college. She is excited to get started.

“This is definitely living the dream,” she said. “I’ve had a few setbacks with my knees, but I’m super excited to go to the next level and live out the dream.”

RCS basketball player Sara Hotaling signs her letter of commitment to play at the college level for Utica University. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media
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