Fall collegiate seasons are coming to a close with conference champions being crowned and national tournaments getting underway. A few Essex High School alumni turned in notable performances across New England for their respective institutions.

Samantha Kirshner (NVU-Johnson Women’s Tennis, Sr.)

Samantha Kershner completed her collegiate career as a fourth-year member of the NVU-Johnson women’s tennis team--climbing up the program’s all-time record charts and earning a conference accolade in the process. She participated in number ones and number twos for the Badgers in both singles and doubles throughout the year.

Kershner tallied 4 wins in doubles play and 2 in singles; that moved her up to fifth on Johnson’s career record list in doubles (14) while putting herself in a tie for eighth with 11 career singles wins as a Badger. Both of her singles victories came as a number two against NVU-Lyndon with each being a 6-0, 6-0 triumph.

At the end of the season, Kershner was decorated with North Atlantic Conference Sportsmanship Team honors. That laurel goes to student-athletes who distinguish themselves through demonstrated acts of sportsmanship and ethical behavior. The honorees are individuals who have positively affected the tennis culture and environment--and whose behavior clearly demonstrates sportsmanship and integrity which goes beyond the playing rules and etiquette.

Anastassya Sells (New England College Women’s Rugby, So.)

Anastassya Sells was a pioneer for New England College Women’s Rugby as she was a valuable member of the school’s first-year program. Sells had already been a student at NEC before joining the team for its non-traditional spring season, and she then continued to play for the Pilgrims this fall during their inaugural campaign in the National Intercollegiate Rugby Association.

The speedy sophomore, who participated in track and field at Essex High as a sophomore and junior, played as one of the two NEC wings on the outside of the backline. The double major (communications and business) took an interest in the sport after her sister, Melayna, told Anastassya about her experience playing for the EHS team.

“I find that, as a freshman, finding our place at a new school can be difficult no matter where you are,” Sells said. “I wasn’t even going to play sports my freshman year, but then in the spring, I saw a sign for tryouts on campus. Coach [Tom] Campbell and the team welcomed me with open arms and taught me how to play the game. As the spring season progressed, I found myself getting better and loving the game.”

Campbell praised his winger and her devotion to the program, and he expects her to be a solid part of the team in the next couple of years.

“Ana was a real joy to have on the team,” Campbell said. “She’s a quick little athlete who’s very consistent. We’re still working on her tackling, but once she gets that down, she’ll have a lot of promise. We’re hoping for big things for her.”

Tommy Kourbanas (Sacred Heart University Club Football, Jr.)

Tommy Kourbanas won a championship this fall during his second year as part of the Sacred Heart University club football team. He played lineman on both sides of the ball and helped his crew go undefeated in the regular season. The former Hornet was part of a team that blanked the University of Vermont 39-0 to claim the North Atlantic Conference Championship on Nov. 16.

Sacred Heart, however, fell to Oakland University in the National Club Football Association semifinal game played in Erie, Pa. on Nov. 23. Kourbanas, who saw three years of varsity action at Essex High, was a senior captain at EHS before playing for SHU’s varsity program his freshman year of 2017.

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