By Kelly Morris / Special Contributor
Ursuline celebrated athletes from three different sports who signed national letters of intent on Wednesday. Volleyball setter Dana Valelly signed with Syracuse while Pauli Kerr (swimming) signed with SMU, and Sara Fazel (crew) signed with Tulsa.
For Valelly, this wasn’t the only exciting event this week. If the Bears top Houston St. Agnes on Thursday, they advance to Saturday’s 5A TAPPS state championship game, which could feature a rematch with rival Bishop Lynch.
“It’s a really exciting week with us leaving for state [Wednesday],” Valelly said. “Volleyball has given me some of my best friends. Syracuse incorporated everything I wanted, and I really like their coach.”
Valelly’s accolades include TAPPS first-team all-state, academic all-state, and the state all-tournament Team in 2014. She’s also the captain of her club team.
“She’s grown very much on the leadership side,” Ursuline head coach Jason Sears said. “She’s very hard-working and pulls the best out of her teammates.”
Kerr has broken two individual Ursuline records (50-yard freestyle and 100-yard freestyle) as well as contributed to school marks in the 200 medley relay, 200 freestyle relay, and 400 freestyle relay.
“SMU had everything I liked from each individual school I visited combined into one,” Kerr said. “My goal now is to go to Junior Nationals again in December. This will be my third time.”
Her favorite event is the 100 freestyle, but head coach Amanda Reiff said she’s valuable on the relays. Kerr is a TAPPS state record holder in the 400-yard freestyle relay.
“She loves to work hard,” Rieff said. “She’s a very strong athlete.”
Fazel is a hockey player turned rower. The Boston native only started crew when she transferred to Ursuline in 2013, but head coach Erin Sullivan said Fazel will excel as a coxswain because of her smaller size.
“The coxswain steers the boat,” Sullivan said. “A lot of the reason she got recruited is because of her athleticism, but it’s really her determination and passion. Crew brought that out in her.”
Fazel chose Tulsa over MIT and Harvard.
“Tulsa is the sort of school that really grows on you,” said Fazel, who wants to study biomedical engineering. “They made me feel like family.”