DeCesare signs NLI to play for Merrimack

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Jayme DeCesare had just signed an National Letter of Intent to play basketball at Merrimack College in North Andover, Ma. beginning in the 2019-20 season and her emotions – as well as those of her father David, mother Joann and sister Sydney – were obviously running rampant.

For DeCesare, as well as 13 other La Salle Academy student-athletes, last Friday was the biggest day of their young lives during an extraordinary NLI signing ceremony inside the storied school’s auditorium.

Sean Reddy, the head girls’ basketball coach and Ted Quigley, the Rams Athletic Coordinator, had just finished showering DeCesare – and the 13 other signees – with words of praise for what they’ve each done and meant to the Roman Catholic school’s athletic program.

Moreover, Jayme DeCesare, who was recruited by such name schools as Farleigh Dickinson, Caldwell University and New Jersey Institute of Technology, was – like the other 13 members of the Class of 2019 who signed letters of intent last Friday – caught up in the joyful emotions of spirited speeches and praise.

Yet, the Johnston resident issued a statement that spoke volumes about the class and character that have earmarked her highly-successful All-State Most Valuable Player basketball career since her days at St. Rocco’s School on Atwood Avenue.

“As excited as I am to play basketball at the next level, I do not want to rush my senior season. I want my last year to be a memorable one for me and my teammates.”

That statement could have also been a warning, of sorts to La Salle opponents, as to just how much DeCesare and her Ram teammates want to again win the Rhode Island Interscholastic League’s Division I state championship this winter.

As equally impressive, DeCesare emphasized after her historic letter of intent signing, “I’m thankful for all the offers I received; but once I visited Merrimack I felt it was the right fit for me. The (220-acre, 40-building) campus is beautiful and Coach (Monique) LeBlanc and her staff made me feel right at home. I got a chance to spend some time with the players and they were very friendly and told me they loved playing for Merrimack and Coach LeBlanc.”

LeBlanc, who also serves as college’s Associate Athletic Director, has developed Merrimack into one of the elite programs in the prestigious NorthEast 10 Conference. The 2017-18 season was arguably her most productive, as she led the NCAA Division II squad into the NE 10 championship after being tabbed an outside tourney choice during the preseason.

So, Jayme DeCesare – like the 13 other La Salle Academy seniors who have achieved great heights as student-athletes and now have scholarships added to their resumes – all wore sweatshirts of the future schools during last Friday’s signing session.

For Jayme DeCesare, many people who’ve watched her grow into a top-flight women’s basketball player will tell you, is without question a perfect fit for Merrimack College.

After all, ever since her CYO basketball days and those of her AAU traveling teams as well as storied successes throughout her All-Everything high school career, has come about through hard work on-and-off the basketball court for a young student-athlete, a.k.a. Warrior, that just so happens to be the nickname of Merrimack College where she’s hoping to make an impact just like she continues to do at La Salle Academy in both athletics and academics.

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