Sarah Alves ’24 is ready to take on the next challenge of her academic and athletic career. The Wardlaw+Hartridge senior softball standout signed her commitment letter to attend Fairleigh Dickinson University during a ceremony in the Admission Conference Room on Nov. 15. Sarah was joined by her parents, Simao Alves and Camila Thiesen, sister Leah Alves ’29, friends, coaches and W+H school administrators.
“I am beyond excited,” Sarah said. “There are no words to explain how excited I am. It’s been a long journey and a lot of hard work. Hard work pays off.”
Smiling and beaming with pride as she shared this special moment with her family, friends and coaches, Sarah expressed gratitude to everyone who has supported her throughout the years. She’s also thankful that she found a good fit in FDU.
“I wanted a place that was similar to Wardlaw+Hartridge – a small school, close to home, with small class sizes. When I visited FDU, the whole environment and the vibes I was getting were like the cherry on the top,” she said.
Sarah has enjoyed an impressive career as the Rams top player. Last spring, she reached a major milestone by recording her 500th career strikeout as the team’s ace pitcher. She’s also closing in on 100 career hits as the team’s leadoff batter.
W+H head coach John Childs appreciates Sarah for more than her presence in the circle and batter’s box. The veteran coach is even more impressed by Sarah’s character.
“She’s an outstanding player, but she’s an even better person,” Coach Childs said. “That’ why I made her a captain as a sophomore. She goes around and helps all the younger girls. That’s what I admire most about her. She’s an excellent player, but a better person and that’s going to help her long after her softball career is over.”
Sarah has enjoyed her different roles as a club and high school player. A fleet-footed outfielder who runs down line drives in the gap for the Batbusters, she mows down opposing batters as the W+H pitcher. Although she expects to play in the FDU outfield, she hasn’t ruled out the possibility of pitching at the next level.
“Joining the W+H community and its athletic program has been life-changing for me,” Sarah said. “I’ve gotten to work on my leadership skills by helping some less-experienced players and having fun with the game overall.”
“She’s a very hard worker and extremely coachable,” said Batbusters coach Ken Fry, who raved about a diving catch Sarah made in a recent tournament. “That kind of athleticism and her dedication to the sport are things that are going to take her very far at the next level.”
Sarah’s parents expressed their pride and excitement for what their daughter has achieved. They’re also happy Sarah is staying close to home, which is a testament to her belief in the importance of family.
“When you’re involved in athletics, you have to balance your entire life with academia and athletics. You have an extra layer of responsibility. There’s a lot of dedication needed and I’m extremely proud of her for keeping up with all of this,” said Simao Alves, Sarah’s father.
“She appreciates family and it was a very emotional moment when she shared that she wanted to stay close to home,” said Camila Thiesen, Sarah’s mother. “I’m very happy that she’s going to be close by and that we’ll be able to catch most of the games.”
Sarah has truly come out of her shell during her five years as a W+H student. A star of many school musical productions, Sarah has also found her voice as a leader of the Hispanic Latinx Alliance affinity group.
“After coming to Wardlaw and surrounding myself with a diverse environment, I felt like I could try new things and not be judged,” she said. “I’ve definitely become a more confident person and more confident leader. I’ve found my true identity here, which is amazing.”