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Two Athletes Sign Letters of Intent

4/13/2017
The rowing careers of Derrian Thompson and Paula Villegas won’t end in high school.

Thompson is headed to Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and Villegas is headed to LaSalle University in Philadelphia. The duo signed Nationals Letters of Intent in front of family and friends on Wednesday.

“It was so fun to wrap up the four years of our rowing together at our Signing Day,” Villegas said. “It’s something we always talked about. We’ve been best friends since we were freshmen.”

Thompson and Villegas have both been on the crew team since their freshmen years. They’ve each competed at the prestigious Stotesbury Cup Regatta each year. In 2014, they finished fifth in the four-person quad. Villegas was a Junior A Quad Semifinalist at the event in 2015.

Thompson added team captain to her role this season. She was a captain with senior Hannah Ni'Shuilleabhain.

“At first I was nervous, but I always felt like a leader,” Thompson said. “It’s been a rewarding and fun year. Our team is definitely like family.”

Coach Erin Sullivan-Baca celebrated more than two seniors Wednesday. Five of her six seniors will be Division I rowers in college. Ni'Shuilleabhain is competing on the club level at Northwestern only because the school doesn’t have a team.

“It's a testament to each athlete's athleticism and their commitment to their sport,” Sullivan-Baca said. “We love following their careers in college. It says a lot for our program.”

Thompson won two gold medals at the Route 66 Regatta in Catoosa, Oklahoma earlier this month. She won the two-person and four-person races. She also was a 2x and 4x Finalist at the Texas Rowing Championships in 2016.

“I love the Loyola Marymount’s campus, and I love their coach,” Thompson said. “He's in first year, and he always wants to see you succeed.”

Both love the sport too much to give it up now.

“I used to always go to Philadelphia for the Stotesbury Cup and see the old boathouses on the river,” Villegas said. “I never thought I’d be rowing from those boathouses now. Philadelphia is such a big rowing city.”