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November 20, 2021

Three AHA Athletes Ratify Contracts on National Signing Day

 Lacrosse luminary Emily Danahy, tennis star Brooke Hess, and soccer standout Caelan McHugh inked letters of intent with Siena College, Dartmouth, and the University of Rhode Island on National Signing Day. The Academy of the Holy Angels hosted a November 10 ceremony in honor of these three top-flight senior athletes.


“I am beyond proud of these three student athletes,” AHA Athletic Director Patti Gorsuch said. “They have worked very hard to reach their dreams of playing in college.” 


Danahy’s invitation to play for a college team represented the attainment of the goal she set for herself when she was in fourth grade.


“It is so rewarding and exciting that it finally came true, and all my hard work has finally paid off,” she said.


Danahy started playing lacrosse for River Dell when she was in first grade. This Oradell resident now plays attack for her club team and midfield for Holy Angels, where she is team captain. In the fall of 2022, she plans to play attack for Siena as she begins her study of psychology.


Her achievements include 131 goals, 55 assists, 176 draw controls, and 186 points. She scored over 100 points (103) during her junior year. As a freshman, she was named First Team All-League, Second Team All-County, and Most Valuable Player. During her junior year, Danahy was First Team All-League, Second Team All-County, First Team All-Non Public A, Player of the Year American Conference, Second Team All-North Jersey Bergen Record, and MVP. She is a multi-sport varsity athlete, and also serves as captain of the AHA Basketball Team.


“I love the friends I’ve made while playing lacrosse as well as having the chance to be a leader at Holy Angels,” Danahy said, adding that she looks forward to making memories at Siena.


Hess was four years old when she took an interest in tennis.


“I started playing mainly on my local courts with my dad, who would take me and begin to teach me my strokes and just help me to learn how to hit the ball,” the Cedar Grove resident recalled. By the time she was eight, tennis had become a more serious pursuit. Currently, Hess is captain of AHA’s varsity team, a leadership role she has held for the past two years.


“Tennis is very much an individual sport, so I like the idea that all of the pressure, all of the highs and lows, are put on an individual person, and that everyone’s journey is so unique,” Hess stated. “The thing I think I enjoy most about the sport is the pressure of the competition. Playing a match is a unique situation, and you have to put everything into it, physically and mentally, to figure out how to win, no matter who is on the other side of the net.”


Hess has won two county titles at second singles and multiple awards, including First Team All-League, First Team All-County, Finalist for Girl’s Tennis Player of the Year, First Team All Non-Public, First Singles Third Team All-Flight, First Team All North Jersey, and First Team All-State. Her team has earned two Bergen County Championships.


“I am beyond excited to be playing tennis at Dartmouth as it was my dream school, and to play for them is an incredible opportunity. My sister Ashley is on the team, and I think it is a bit crazy that we chose the same school. We played together on the AHA team my freshman year, and soon we will be playing together in college. Of course, I will love having her as a teammate again, and it is exciting to share this experience with her.”


Hess has not selected a major, but said she is leaning toward business or economics.


McHugh, a resident of Sparkill, New York, was four years old when she started playing soccer for her local recreation league. By the age of seven, she had joined her first travel team.


“What I enjoy most about playing soccer is all of the friendships I have made and all of the great memories I have made in the sport and many more to come,” McHugh said.


She is captain of the AHA Soccer Team, where she plays outside midfield. McHugh also plays center midfield for her club team. As a junior, and again this year as a senior, she earned First Team All-League in the Big North Conference. McHugh also shares her athletic talents with AHA’s varsity basketball and varsity track teams.


McHugh said she was happy that many years of dedication to soccer had led to an invitation to join URI’s team.

“I was excited to start a new chapter at a great soccer school with a great education!” said McHugh, who plans to study communications.


Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious school serves young women from many cultural and religious backgrounds.