Colts sign on the dotted line

By Mark Kitchin

KINNELON — The Annaheim sisters rarely play on different teams or against each other. Their teammate Nicole Belanger is so familiar with them on the field; she is almost like another sister.

However, all three members of the Kinnelon Colts acknowledge that they will soon be parting ways. They took the first step last week by signing their National Letter of Intent last week in a ceremony held at the Kinnelon High School Auditorium.

Heidi Annaheim is headed for the University of Notre Dame. Her sister Virginia Annaheim has opted to compete for the University of Albany. Their teammate Nicole Belanger will take her lacrosse and vocal skills to the University of New Haven.

The Annaheim twins took some of their college visits together, but decided ultimately on different schools. Although they will miss playing with each other, they are excited about their opportunity to establish their own identity.

“I think we’ve played together on almost every team but two,’’ Heidi Annaheim said. “We know where each other plays on the field at all times. It’s kind of a cool thing. It’s going to be weird not playing with her. I don’t know how I’m going to do it.’’

                                   Kinnelon’s Heidi Annaheim (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

The relationship between the sisters has been cordial and complementary. The Annaheims believe they have made themselves better lacrosse players by pushing each other.  

“It wasn’t a direct competition like: “I have to be better than you.’’,’’ Heidi Annaheim said “In the past she was always defense and I was offense and we’d play around. Now we play the same position and it really helps.’’

Heidi Annaheim had a tremendous offensive season in 2012. She scored 101 goals and 53 assists to make her eighth in the state in scoring. A heavy Division I recruit, when she saw the golden dome of Notre Dame and all the things the school had to offer — she was smitten.

“At the first four schools I could see myself there but it wasn’t something that jumped out at me,’’ Heidi Annaheim said. “Notre Dame was the last one I went to and it was in a class by itself.’’

                                 Kinnelon’s Virginia Annaheim (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Virginia Annaheim made her decision a few months before her sister. She opted to attend the University of Albany which was a school where she felt most comfortable. Both girls plan to take business courses at their respective schools.

“I fell in love with the team and the campus,’’ Virginia Annaheim said. “I’m going to be really sad playing without Heidi but that’s how it’s going to be. I just want to move on and start a new life. … If we ever end up playing each other it’s going to be pretty interesting.’’

Virginia Annaheim is a little stronger on the defensive end then her sister but she is no slouch on offense. She scored 41 goals and had 41 assists for Kinnelon which finished at 14-4 last season. 

“Virginia is great on defense and on the circle,’’ Kinnelon coach Jim Lawler said. “She’s really good at covering people. She’s always looking to get the ball to other people, Heidi, too. They are both great passers.’’

Lawler said all three seniors have tremendous skill levels and great instincts. Their ability and leadership skills have the Colts looking forward to the spring season.

“They have worked incredibly hard,’’ Lawler said. “They have done everything they were supposed to do. They’ve done so much. They deserve it. “

                                  Kinnelon’s Nicole Belanger (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Belanger’s commitment to a Division II lacrosse school doesn’t reflect on her athletic ability as much as it does her future plans. She had some specific requirements regarding her decision.

“I got a ton of offers,’’ Belanger said. “Saying no to colleges was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. These crazy big schools are giving you offers and you have to say no because you are looking for a specific thing. It was definitely hard and I’m definitely happy it’s over.’’

Belanger is planning a career in music. She sings and plays piano. You can hear her belt out the national anthem at Kinnelon High football games and other school events, but she also likes to sing at small independent venues, too. She also works at a music studio.

“New Haven has one of the top lacrosse teams in DII,’’ Belanger said. “They also have a music program I’m looking to study. I’m doing a double major in music industry and music technology, so it was everything I wanted. It made a huge impact (on my choice).’’

Belanger had 26 goals and 34 assists and was another key player in the Colts stellar season. She has played lacrosse with the Annaheim sisters since the third grade. Signing her letter with them sitting by her side seemed appropriate.

“We are best friends,’’ Belanger said. “We’ve come so far and it’s amazing to see all of us signing on the same day. I feel like I’m a part of them. It’s just awesome.’’

The Colts trio believe that their signings will have no bearing on how Kinnelon will perform their senior seasons. They are determined to finish their varsity careers on the top of their games.

“All my friends are still looking at schools and trying to decide,’’ Belanger said. “It’s such a big stress reliever off my shoulders. It’s the best feeling ever.’’

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About mcvbb

Mark Kitchin is a boys varsity basketball writer for the Morris County New Jersey area

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