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Standouts on the playing fields, courts, track, and golf course, Sarah Houle and Evan Eggleston are also leaders who were captains and solid students who were recognized for their performances in the classroom. For their efforts, versatility — both are three-sport competitors — and accolades, Houle and Eggleston were selected as The Newtown Bee’s Newtown High School Athletes of the Year.
“They are the best of the best of the best here,” said Newtown High Athletic Director, Matt Memoli, adding that the level of sportsmanship and leadership Houle and Eggleston developed and took on stood out significantly.
Both athletes are set to continue their playing careers in college: Houle will golf at The College of William & Mary, and Eggleston will play lacrosse at Stevens Institute of Technology. Regardless of how far their careers take them, these Nighthawks have already accomplished a lot.
“At the end of the day, that’s really what you want these kids to become — modest, thoughtful people. It’s fun to watch from my perspective,” Memoli said.
Houle played soccer in the fall and ran indoor track during the winter months before hitting the golf courses to excel in her number one sport each spring.
“Trying to keep everyone positive, motivated, and also trying to do your best to set an example for them,” is what goes into being a good captain, Houle said. “At the beginning of the season, it’s always tough because you have to push people to be better.”
The Connecticut High School Golfer of the Year and state champion each of the last two seasons, Houle earned All State and All South-West Conference accolades all four years of high school.
“When it happened, it was exciting all over again,” Houle said of capturing her second state title this spring.
In 2016 and ‘17, Houle earned All State soccer accolades, and in her first three seasons, she received All-SWC honors. This year, Houle and Eggleston both received CIAC Scholar Athlete Awards.
Houle really stood out most during the golf campaign, during which she regularly earned medalist accolades and was far and away the best golfer on the course. She looks forward to being challenged and pushed to do her best in college, where she plans to study Business.
“I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to coach Sarah. She is one of a kind. I have never met anyone in any sport with a more competitive psyche as well as the work ethic to follow. Sarah is able to grind out difficult situations and able to just play. This can only happen when you put in the countless hours of preparation. The best part about Sarah, though, [is that] she is such a great kid — works hard in the classroom and is fun to be around. I will truly miss her next year,” said Jeremy O’Connell, Houle’s golf coach at NHS.
Eggleston, who received Academic All American status for lacrosse this year, adds to a resume that includes the Scholar Athlete recognition, the Harold DeGroat Award, and several honors for his efforts on the basketball court. Eggleston also played varsity soccer in the fall for three years.
A challenge for Eggleston and the other lacrosse captains this year was when injuries piled up and the captains motivated lesser-experienced team members, including freshmen.
“As captains, we had to step up and guide them and make it an easy transition for them,” Eggleston said.
A three-year varsity basketball player, Eggleston was a captain this year, and helped the first NHS team to reach the state tournament semifinals, where Newtown lost to Amity of Woodbridge at neutral site Shelton High.
“Even though we didn’t come out on top, it was amazing to look around you and not see an empty seat anywhere,” Eggleston said.
For basketball, Eggleston earned All Colonial Team and Honorable Mention SWC accolades and was named to the Holiday All Tournament Team twice. On the lacrosse field, Eggleston was a four-year varsity player and senior captain who received second-team All SWC accolades. He helped the Hawks capture the 2016 SWC championship.
“It’s definitely going to be harder competition, but it’s definitely going to be fun,” Eggleston, who will study Cyber Security, said of the step up to the collegiate level.
“Great kid, great leader — just did a tremendous job. I’m super proud of him,” said Scott Bulkley, coach of the NHS lacrosse team.
Eggleston and Houle both golf for fun. Houle started out playing soccer, basketball, and golf. Eggleston said he did other sports, including swimming and baseball, before shifting gears into different sports.
Both Houle and Eggleston will take with them fond memories of playing before a large fan base at Blue & Gold Stadium. Eggleston recalls attending games at Blue & Gold, as well as in the old NHS gymnasium, as a fan when he was much younger.
“It’s a pretty cool feeling to know I’ve come full circle, basically,” Eggleston said.
“Just being able to represent Newtown and play for something bigger than myself was an honor and a privilege,” Houle added.