Hampshire Regional student-athletes sign letters of intent

Hampshire Regional’s Caitlin Potts, Hailey Wodecki and Nick Brisson sign letters of intent to play college sports during a ceremony at the school’s library on Tuesday in Westhampton.

Hampshire Regional’s Caitlin Potts, Hailey Wodecki and Nick Brisson sign letters of intent to play college sports during a ceremony at the school’s library on Tuesday in Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/CONNOR PIGNATELLO

By CONNOR PIGNATELLO

Staff Writer

Published: 05-21-2024 5:22 PM

WESTHAMPTON – Hampshire Regional senior student-athletes gathered on Tuesday to sign letters of intent to play collegiate athletics. Seven graduating seniors will play college sports at the Division I and III levels.

Fresh off a Western Mass. championship in the 800 meters on Friday, Nick Brisson signed to run track & field at the University of Hartford.

On Monday, Caitlin Potts led Hampshire’s defense as the girls lacrosse team wrapped up its most successful regular season ever at 12-5. Potts signed to play for Westfield State.

Also on Monday, Hailey Wodecki and the Raiders softball team blanked Wahconah to move one step closer to their goal of a Western Mass. repeat title in Class B. Wodecki signed to play at Fairleigh Dickinson, which competes at the Division I level. Her older sister Hannah, who graduated from Hampshire Regional two years ago, set a number of records for Westfield State softball this year after transferring from Franklin Pierce.

Additionally, Liam Pond signed to play baseball at Elms College, Ava Richard signed to run track at St. Joseph’s College (Maine), Aidan Miklasiewicz signed to play soccer at Western New England and Gavin Dafonte signed to run cross country at Westfield State.

‘I always wanted to be that person, and now I am that person’

After a move from Belchertown in elementary school, Potts started playing lacrosse in seventh grade for Hampshire Regional’s fledgling co-op with St. Mary’s, back when the team was hosted by St. Mary’s. 

In her first year, the program went 1-18.

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

Music in the sky: Summit House Sunset Concert Series returns to its 173-year-old home
Easthampton’s 11 Ferry St. project promises affordable five-story, 96-unit complex
Knitters’ paradise: Webs, ‘America’s Yarn Store’ and a mainstay for Valley crafters for generations, turns 50
Ashfield Lake House reopening under new ownership, management
Herrell’s Ice Cream to open pop-up shop in North Amherst this summer
Yankee Candle consolidation prompts loss of 100 jobs

“We won one game all year, but it was such a fun game,” Potts said. “I remember looking so ridiculous and having no clue what I was doing, but it was so much fun.”

Six years later, she’s developed into a senior captain and one of head coach Grace Ahrensdorf’s most trusted players.

“She’s that player who’s seen the program through almost all of our stages,” Ahrensdorf said. “She’s our glue back there. She’s very vocal and willing to help anyone that needs it and really boost the team up.”

Potts quit her decade-long competitive dance career during the pandemic and tried to play as much lacrosse as she could. She entered a number of clinics, including one during the winters with Westfield State’s head coach, Jeff Pechulis. She was immediately drawn to Pechulis’ coaching style and Westfield State’s facilities.

But when it came time for Westfield State’s recruiting day, Pechulis didn’t have any spots available because of seniors choosing to return for graduate seasons. Westfield State had been Potts’ first choice, but she started looking elsewhere, and eventually committed to Keene State College.

Then, unexpectedly, one of Westfield State’s seniors chose not to come back for a fifth year, and a spot opened up. Pechulis called Potts and offered her the spot.

“Everything kind of came full circle and came to the best possible thing I could imagine,” Potts said. “I think seventh grade me would be crying on the floor so excited, because I don’t think I ever thought I was going to be here. I always watched people’s signing days and I always wanted to be that person, and now I am that person. That’s so crazy to me.”

Brisson ‘always knew’

Brisson began running in seventh grade with his sister and started running road races with his father around then as well. He said he always knew he wanted to run in college, and after his freshman season, he realized he’d have the chance to.

He initially heard about Hartford from Gulian Marconi, a Hampshire 2022 graduate who currently runs middle distance events for the Hawks. When Brisson started emailing colleges in the summer before his junior year, he got a strong response from Hartford and went on a visit during his senior spring.

Hartford had his major (physical therapy), his visit with the Hawks coaches went well, and when the FAFSA came out in April, Brisson chose Hartford from a pool of three schools.

“I thought, here’s something I want to do,” Brisson said. “They have a good team, a good coach – a good place that felt like it would be the best for me.”