Thursday, Feb. 7
One’s going to school right next to the White House.
The other is headed 1,200 miles west to the high plains of Wyoming.
Before a throng of fellow students, parents, family members, teachers and officials, popular Kettle Run High athletes Ivana Szwejkowski and Josh Tapscott signed their national letters of intent Wednesday morning from 8 to 8:30 a.m. in the KRHS auditorium.
Szwejkowski is receiving a near full scholarship – roughly 85 percent – to play women’s soccer at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., while Tapscott earned a full football ride
to a distant college few in Fauquier County ever attend or know anything about: the University of Wyoming, located at some 7,000 feet in elevation in Laramie.
Elsewhere Wednesday, Liberty High star defensive lineman Wyatt Teller signed with Virginia Tech, completing his paperwork in Texas a day after playing for the Team USA Under-19 team in an all-star game. LHS is planning a ceremony for him at some point coach Sean Finnerty said.
Cowboy football coaches wooed Tapscott in November, and the star running back and his father Kenneth flew out to visit the campus, were treated like kings, loved it, and the rest is history.
"I'm done," said Tapscott, looking up after signing his name perhaps six times on the various sheets of paperwork, which KRHS coach Jeff Lloyd then rushed off to send.
After putting down their pens, both seniors drew lengthy applause from fellow students who lined the stairway.
Tapscott immediately donned a brown Wyoming cap and grinned broadly to some 30 family members seated in front of him, while his dad also wore a different brown Wyoming cap proudly.
Szwejkowski, with her signature long blond locks flowing over a gray GW sweatshirt, was flanked at the signing table by her parents Chet and Michelle. Also at the table sharing her signing moment were coach Steve Smith, teammate Erika Blevins and Tom Oliver, a KRHS football star and Ivana’s boyfriend.
Szwejkowski said she was excited about going to school in the urban environment of Foggy Bottom in D.C. “I grew up in Boston. I like the idea of so many options of things to do,” she said.
Although she considered Longwood (where some of her club soccer teammates were attending), GW is a prestigious school in a vibrant city so close to home. It's also expensive and the offer was too good to pass up, which is why Szwejkowski is now a Colonial.
“She’s very fortunate. She likes the city lifestyle and the glamor,” said her mom Michelle.
Szwejkowski thanked coach Smith, who helped her progress as a player and guided her college selection. “Mr. Smith helped me so much. I’d be completely lost,” she said of Smith, also a KRHS guidance counselor.
An aggressive attacking midfielder with speed, Szwejkowski is a decisive decision-maker who possesses a unique skill of visualizing plays before they happen. She was all-Evergreen District first team as a sophomore and junior.
Szwejkowski said GW coaches are talking about using her at fullback or midfield. GW is coming off a 5-12-1season in coach Sarah Barnes' first year.
Szwejkowski's mother Michelle said a college soccer pedigree runs in the family. Michelle mentioned three brothers who played soccer at Michigan State, American International College (Springfield, Mass.) and Catawba (N.C.), respectively, and said her father (Ivana's grandfather) played soccer at Brockport (Mass.) State.
Asked what she plans to study, Szwejkowski mentioned physical therapy, but soon followed up with the tidbit that she loves performing arts and may take a vocal or drama class at GW to see how it goes.
“I like to sing,” said Szwejkowski, who has entertained teammates with brief impromptu singing performances after some soccer matches.