Jennifer Crusco
Communications Assistant

Historic Moment: Four Angels Will Be Division 1 College Athletes

Demarest, NJ: National Signing Day 2017 was a historic event at the Academy of the Holy Angels: Athletic Director Patti Gorsuch announced that a record number of Academy athletes had committed to Division 1 college sports. Kelly (Do Yeoun) Sim of Edgewater will play golf at Northwestern, Elena Pulanco of Englewood will play basketball at Wofford College, and Tara Lyons of Pearl River (NY) and Caroline McGann of Old Tappan will be participating in track and field at Bucknell. All of these students signed letters of intent on National Signing Day.

Sim is a two-time state champion and a five-time American Junior Golf Association champion. Her many awards and honors include being named to the Rolex Junior All American Team in 2016 and 2017, and becoming the 2017 New Jersey State Golf Association Women’s Amateur Champion.

“When I was younger, my parents, who loved to play the game themselves, thought it would be nice to have me join them on the weekends instead of being with a babysitter alone,” Sim recalled. “Golf for me was not a competitive sport, but more of a way for my family to spend time together. As I started to improve and compete in local tournaments, I realized that I enjoyed the competitive aspect of golf.”

Sim said golf has given her cherished childhood memories, and the enjoyment of being an athlete in a sport that was out of the ordinary.

“During elementary school, while other girls and boys played soccer, baseball, etc., I liked how I was unique and different in the sport I played.”

She added, “The feeling of hitting great shots, the sound of grass when you hit through it, persevering through challenges and difficulties, seeing the beauties of mother nature around you (like the change in the color of the leaves, the sky of various shapes and colors), and winning tournaments (giving happiness and pride to my parents) made me continue to pursue golf as a career.”

This fall, Sim will continue her career as a college athlete while she pursues a degree in architecture.

Lyons said her athletic career began to take shape when she was in middle school.

“When I was in seventh grade, the option to join my town's modified track team arose. At that time, soccer was my sport and it always had been, and I was planning on playing in high school,” Lyons said. “My soccer coaches always pointed out my speed as an important factor in the game, so a couple of my friends and I decided to jump at the opportunity to run track for our town. I didn't expect much from the sport, besides having an hour or two of time with my friends every afternoon. However, as the season progressed, my times were surprising both my coaches and me, and that's when I realized that track might be something that I should really consider.”

Lyons runs the 800m and 400m and the relays for the 4x800 and the 4x400. She enjoys attending the Penn Relays every spring, and the New Balance Nationals in the summer.

“Last summer, my 4x800 team placed third in the national meet, cutting 10 seconds off of our time,” she said, when asked about her high school career. “Another highlight would be when I broke the school record in the 800m last spring. The rewarding feeling I get when I win, beat my time, or break records is what I love about the sport.”

Lyons also plays Gaelic Football on both the Rockland County and New York teams.

“We travel to Ireland in the summers to play in tournaments against Irish teams and I have won an all-Ireland medal,” she added.

Lyons plans to earn an undergraduate degree in biology in preparation for a career in medicine.

While she began her athletic endeavors as a gymnast, McGann became interested in pole vaulting when her eighth grade teacher showed her videos of athletes participating in this sport. She said she decided to continue to pursue track and field at AHA due to the positive influence of Coach Howard Schuman.

Asked about her successes as a pole vaulter, McGann reported, “I have been State Group Champion twice and First Team All-League three times. Last spring, I broke the state sectional venue record with my 11'6" vault. I broke the school record as a sophomore with a vault of 10'6". My highest vault is 11'9". With these accomplishments, I have been awarded the MVP three times, and received the Most Improved Award and the Coach's Award at Holy Angels.”

In addition to working with Coach Schuman at Holy Angels, McGann trains at the Hudson Valley Flying Circus all year under Coach Tim St. Lawrence.

McGann will focus on the sciences in college.

“I started dribbling a basketball in my driveway when I was eight years old, and haven't put the ball down much since then,” said Pulanco, AHA’s star guard/point guard. “Luckily for me, my grade school (St. John's Academy in Hillsdale) had a very strong CYO basketball program, which I joined from third to eighth grade. It was a big part of our school culture, especially since our team won the league championships every year.

“I think I was first drawn to basketball because dribbling came naturally to me, and my older brother (Darryn) actually wanted to play me all the time. That's a big deal since I was in third grade and my brother was almost a teenager! He's about four years older, but I discovered that our games were pretty competitive and fun. We both love the game and continue to challenge each other in the gym. He really boosted my court IQ and taught me how to study the game and break down film to see my opportunities. If I wasn't playing basketball, I was talking about it with him. That's where his passion is, so we complement each other.”

Pulanco was a varsity starter as a freshman. She has been named Most Valuable Player and is her team’s leading scorer. Her career highlights have included being part of Coach Susan Liddy's 700th win, winning the league title last season, and being a state finalist. She was also named First Team All-County.

Outside of AHA, Pulanco plays club basketball with Hudson Valley Elite, where she has won the GymRat Challenge Platinum Division. She has also been named a three-time All Tournament selection in the GymRat Challenge and a three-time All Star selection at the Nike Nationals.

“Playing against strong competition really challenged me to develop my skills,” Pulanco added. “I also train regularly with D.J. Sackmann, a world-renowned NBA skills trainer, who has been a huge part of my progress.”

Pulanco will maximize her full scholarship to Wofford by majoring in sociology and anthropology with a minor in studio art.

“I chose Wofford College because, like AHA, they presented huge opportunities for me, both as a student and an athlete, so I did not have to sacrifice one for the other,” she explained. “In addition to a new state-of-the-art arena, they will also provide a study abroad experience that is typically unavailable for Division 1 college athletes due to schedule constraints.”

She added that Wofford will arrange paid internships with alumni networking in her areas of study.

“These unique offerings, combined with a very supportive and personable coaching staff, made my college decision easy. I am truly grateful and excited about what lies ahead in my next chapter,” Pulanco said.

Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in New Jersey. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious high school serves young women from a broad spectrum of cultural and religious backgrounds. Over time, thousands of women have passed through AHA’s portals. Many go on to study at some of the nation’s best universities, earning high-ranking positions in medicine, government, law, education, public service, business, arts, and athletics. The Academy’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others.

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