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Stanavich signs NLI to attend Mercy College

AMSTERDAM — For the third time in eight days, the Amsterdam girls basketball team had one of its players sign a National Letter of Intent to play collegiately.

The latest was senior Jackie Stanavich, who signed her letter to play at Mercy College next year during a ceremony at Amsterdam High School on Thursday.

“It’s an absolute dream. It’s been amazing,” Jackie Stanavich said. “Since I was a little girl, I dreamed of playing college basketball. I’m excited to be able to do it.”

Stanavich joins Antonia May, who will play at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and Andie Gannon, who will play at Roberts Wesleyan.

“It’s really special to sign with my teammates,” Jackie Stanavich said. “At the high school, we’re all family and we want the best for each other.”

“We’re truly blessed,” Amsterdam girls varsity basketball coach Eric Duemler said. “The character of all three girls stands out. I know they will be super successful with wherever they’re headed. The basketball piece is secondary.”

Stanavich has been a part of the Amsterdam girls varsity team for the past four seasons and has been named to the Class A all-state team three times.

Stanavich was an honorable mention all-state selection last season as a junior after earning 14th-team honors as a sophomore. She was an honorable mention selection as a freshman.

In addition to her all-state honors, Stanavich was a first-team Foothills Council all-star in 2019 and 2020. She was named to the second team in 2018. Over the past three seasons, the Lady Rams have posted 56-10 record.

Despite her many accolades, Stanavich was wondering if her dreams of playing collegiately were dashed when she went down with a season-sending ACL injury late last season.

“It was tough when she got hurt,” Duemler said. “She got down about it, but she’s got a great support system at home. I told her to keep working hard and that good things would happen. I just tried to keep her spirits up. It all worked out and she found a good fit.”

Part of Stanavich’s recovery process was serving as an unofficial assistant coach over the final games of the season.

“It was very important to me to be around the team after I got hurt last year,” Jackie Stanavich said. “Basketball is my life. It was really hard to be out, but I was able to have a different perspective. It made me feel like I was still able to be part of the team.”

Even the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t slow Stanavich.

“My physical therapist was shut down, but luckily I was still able to go two days a week,” Jackie Stanavich said. “It didn’t really push my recovery back at all.”

Though it cut her junior season short and left her collegiate hopes in doubt, Stanavich said her injury tought her several important lessons.

“At the end of the day, my injury is part of my journey,” Jackie Stanavich said. “It’s a learning experience.”

The icing on the cake was Mercy’s interest in signing her despite the injury.

“The Mercy coach saw us play in New York City last year. He had a list of our players, but he had the wrong number for Jackie,” Duemler said. “He couldn’t believe she was still available when we finally got in touch. He doesn’t even care about her injury. It just seems like it’s a good fit for her. She has someone to trust and believe in her.”

Stanavich’s visit to the campus, which is located in Dobbs Ferry in Westchester County, sealed the deal.

“I loved the campus and I loved the coaches. It was amazing to have someone have confidence in me whether I’m injured or not,” Jackie Stanavich said. “They were still willing to work with me.”

Stanavich is one of 10 children, most of whom were in attendance Thursday as she signed her letter of intent. During the signing, she was joined at the table by her parents Tom and Christine.

Her older brother Dale, is a redshirt sophomore on the Rutgers University baseball team, and her sister, Gabby is a sophomore on the St. Francis (Pa.) University women’s track and field team. Her older brother, Bryan, holds the Amsterdam career and single-season rushing records in football, along with total points scored.

“It feels good to share this experience with my siblings,” Jackie Stanavich said. “I don’t think it puts any pressure on me. I think it brings us closer.”

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