Six Mustangs Sign for Division I Athletics

Six members of St. Rita of Cascia High School’s Senior Class recently signed national letters of intent to play Division I athletics next year.  The players, TJ Verdun (Homer Glen), Eddie De La Riva (Blue Island), Stefano Belmonte (Munster, IN), Zack Soria (Homer Glen), Tony Hicks (South Holland), and A.J. Avery (Chicago - Jackson Park Highlands) are among the top high school athletes in Illinois.  The students’ family members were present for the signing ceremony, along with Athletic Director and Head Varsity Baseball Coach Mike Zunica, Associate Head Varsity Baseball Coach John Nee ’93, Head Varsity Basketball Coach Gary DeCesare, President Fr. Tom McCarthy, O.S.A. ’83 and Principal Mr. Brendan Conroy.

TJ Verdun (Baseball - OF) signed a letter of intent to attend Saint Louis University.  He was congratulated by his parents, Ski and Beth.  “In choosing Saint Louis, it felt like I was picking St. Rita all over again because of the close family-like environment.  I like the baseball program’s direction and thank St. Rita and the coaching staff for all their hard work and efforts,” said Verdun.

Eddie De La Riva (Baseball - P) signed a letter of intent to attend Purdue University.  He was congratulated by his parents, Hector and Teresa. “I felt right at home on their campus and feel the coaching staff at Purdue is very knowledgeable about the game of baseball.  St. Rita was the best decision of my life so far and I’m excited to play at a major level next year and beyond,” said De La Riva

Stefano Belmonte (Baseball - 3B) also signed a letter of intent to attend Purdue University.  He was congratulated by his parents, Tony and Norma. “I like the Big 10 atmosphere of Purdue and their coaching staff will help me excel.  St. Rita taught me how to play the game of baseball right and become a man on and off the field, “said Belmonte.

Zack Soria (Baseball - C, SS) signed a letter of intent to attend the University of Louisville.  He was congratulated by his parents, Bob and Debbie. “The staff at Louisville really gets after it and their goal is to win a national championship, which is mine as well.  From my experiences at St. Rita, I’ve learned that every day is a gift and that nothing is guaranteed—I’ll be prepared for the next level now,” said Soria.

Tony Hicks (Basketball - Guard) signed a letter of intent to attend The University of Pennsylvania.  He was congratulated by his mother, Yvette. “I felt very comfortable with the staff and administration at Penn, and the chance to receive an Ivy League education is wonderful.  I feel very prepared for the next level based on my experience here at St. Rita,” said Hicks.

A.J. Avery (Basektball - Forward) signed a letter of intent to attend Western Michigan University.  He was congratulated by his mother, Daphne. “It seemed like Western Michigan really wanted me, and it is a great atmosphere in their basketball program.  St. Rita helped me mature and I feel ready to take on the challenges at the next level,” remarked Avery.

Athletic Director and Head Baseball Coach Mike Zunica is proud of all the athletes.  “We’re proud of the accomplishments of these young men both on the athletic fields and in the halls and classrooms of St. Rita.  We’re excited for all six young men as they take the next step in their lives,” said Coach Zunica.