SCHOHARIE — You know you've accomplished something very special when the village mayor proclaims a day in your honor.
That happened to Schoharie High School senior Shane Helmstadt Wednesday afternoon, just before the baseball pitching standout signed his letter-of-intent to attend Stony Brook University of the America East Conference.
"This a real big deal for our school, for Shane and for his family," Schoharie baseball coach Chip Beninati said as Helmstadt's relatives and schoolmates, school administrators and local dignitaries gathered in a hallway for the signing ceremony. "We've only had one other Division I guy."
John Murray, who played basketball at Siena College following his graduation from Schoharie in 1975, was the first.
As the second, Helmstadt will attend Stony Brook on an athletic scholarship and study business management.
"Ever since I was little, I put so much hard work into it, and today it all came together," the 18-year-old Helmstadt said. "It feels great to make everyone proud. It's what I always wanted."
Stony Brook, which won AE regular-season and tournament titles last season, will be getting an all-star right-handed pitcher as well as a high-honors student.
"I would describe him as a craftsman both as an athlete and a student," Schoharie co-athletic director Kevin Scofield said. "He does it with passion, he does it with care and he does it with great detail. We will be real valuable to Stony Brook."
Helmstadt will compete for veteran Stony Brook head coach Matt Senk, who in 29 seasons has had 27 of his players drafted by Major League teams.
"That came up in our conversations, and was a big part of my decision," the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Helmstadt said. "I'll put in the work."
Helmstadt selected Stony Brook over Binghamton, and made a verbal commitment to play for the Seawolves just before his junior year began..
"He had a big summer with the New York Storm after his sophomore year. He played in some showcases and Stony Brook liked what they saw," Beninati said. "They made him a nice offer."
"Academically I'll fit in well, and I love the coaching staff," Helmstadt said.
Helmstadt was named the Western Athletic Conference Mohawk Division co-MVP with Troy Butler of Fort Plain after his junior season at Schoharie when he struck out 117 batters and walked 19 over 58 innings. His ERA was 1.32.
"He's got an 87, 88-mile [per hour] fastball. He's got an off-speed pitch. His slider is good," Beninati said. "He's kind of difficult for our catchers to catch."
Helmstadt's signature performance last season came against Berne-Knox-Westerlo when he hurled a no-hitter and struck out 19, including fanning the side in each of the last four innings. He pitched a one-hitter against Johnstown in his start before that.
"I like pitching in the big game. I like the big moment," Helmstadt said. "I expect to make an impact right away, but whatever is best for the team."
Schoharie Mayor Larry Caza proclaimed Nov. 13 as Shane Helmstadt Day in the village of Schoharie. Helmstadt also competes in golf and basketball.
While Helmstadt's signing ceremony was a solo effort, others in Section II this week included or will include multiple student-athletes inking their collegiate pacts.
Among the other Section II student-athletes who signed Division I pacts Wednesday were Schalmont sprinter Mia D'Ambrosio (North Carolina State) and soccer players Davia Rossi (Binghamton) and Sofia Cassano (Bryant); Niskayuna soccer player Olivia Piraino (UAlbany), distance runner Tom Ragone (Siena) and volleyball player Stefana Stan (Binghamton); Tamarac baseball player Tristan Nemjo (Hofstra); and Averill Park basketball player Kelsey Wood (Sacred Heart).