As a youngster, New Hope-Solebury’s Derek Smith realized baseball could play an integral role in his future. Now, Smith has taken another step to help fulfill his dream by signing a letter of intent to attend Dickinson College.
“I’ve played baseball as long as I could remember,” said Smith. “I’ve always been drawn to baseball. It was the first sport I’ve ever tried and I haven’t stopped since. I played other sports, but I could never get into it like I did with baseball.
“Toward the back end of middle school, I realized this is something I really wanted to start taking seriously because I just couldn’t imagine playing in high school. When I did, I saw more in myself and wanted a bigger future in baseball.”
He is one of three Lions athletes who signed letters of intent to extend their careers. Stephanie Curtis will continue swimming at West Chester University and Emma Silberman will continue gymnastics at the University of Maryland.
Smith is grateful to his family and his high school for the opportunity to play at the collegiate level.
“Growing up with two older brothers who both played baseball in college, there always was a sense of competition at home,” said Smith. “But most of all, there was a greater sense of connection between us that made the greatest impact on my life.
“There was never a time where we were all just at home doing nothing.
We always were getting better together whether it was in the weight room, on the field, or just at home messing around in the backyard. We all helped each other grow up and mature as both baseball players and young men. I don’t think I would nearly be who I am today if it wasn’t for them.
“New Hope has helped me with baseball because it taught me what it meant to be a leader and being part of a team means more than just winning. It helped me to choose Dickinson because it is the best place for me to succeed on an academic and athletic standpoint.”
Curtis didn’t take long to make an instant connection with West Chester.
“I chose West Chester because I loved the campus and it was the perfect distance from home for me,” said Curtis. “Also, I love the swim team there because they are all such genuinely nice people. Part of me just felt like I belonged there and will really enjoy the next four years at the college.
“The swim program there reached out to me after districts my junior year and offered me a position on the team.”
Her parents and her coach helped Curtis further solidify the agreement.
“My parents were really supportive of my decision to join the team,” she said. “My coach was also such a huge supporter of my swim career and helped with my decision to choose West Chester.
“The West Chester swim program is very welcoming and I have already made many friendships with them. The team has been so supportive of me and I already feel like I’m going to enjoy the program next year.”
Silberman also has a lifetime bond with her sport, and she is ready for the next step.
“I have been involved with gymnastics since as soon as I could walk, which was about at the age just over a year old until now,” she said.
“When I was in first grade, I was put on the mini team and from then on I accelerated through the levels. By the age of 13, I had qualified for national competitions where I competed against the best in the country.”
Her inspiration has come from her coaches.
“My biggest influences are definitely my coaches,” said Silberman.
“They have taught me everything I know and I spend hours every day with them. The most memorable moments in my gymnastics career so far has been competing at prestigious meets and placing among the best.
“New Hope has allowed me to get as far as I am in the sport through the support of the community. I am very happy about going to Maryland and I am very anxious to get started.”