Cherry Hill East Student Athlete’s College Commitments Part 2
February 5, 2023
Welcome to part 2 of our commitments package. In part 1 we highlighted 5 student-athletes that have committed to playing at the next level. Part 2 will highlight 5 more student-athletes. Be sure to check back in for more commitments during the spring.
Donny DiDonato (’23) commits to Immaculata University for baseball
Donny DiDonato (‘23) has committed to Immaculata University for baseball.
DiDonato started playing baseball at the age of three and first played travel baseball at age nine. He made the decision that he wanted to play baseball in college at the age of 15 so he worked extra hard to make that happen. He valued connections by reaching out to a lot of college coaches and meeting a lot of new people in order to get his commitment. After deciding that he wanted to play at Immaculata, DiDonato reached out to their coach to express his interest. After visiting their school and playing in front of their coaches, he was able to get an offer.
At East, DiDonato pitched for varsity sporadically in his sophomore year but was part of the starting rotation in his junior year and will be part of the rotation for his senior year. He pitched over 30 innings in his junior year and expects to pitch around the same number for the upcoming season. DiDonato said his favorite moment playing for East was when they won an in-season tournament last season. He pitched three scoreless innings that helped win the championship game and the win gave them their playoff berth.
DiDonato said that he got seven other offers including a full scholarship at a D2 school, he instantly knew that Immaculata was the right fit for him immediately when he stepped on campus. He noted that he wanted to go to a small school like Immaculata and he fit in really well with his teammates there. Because of how good the team is, DiDonato does not expect to pitch much his freshman year but he believes that his role will increase in his sophomore season.
While DiDonato is excited to play at the next level, he is also very excited for his senior season at East and to play with some of his lifelong friends for the final time.
Ethan Gwara (’23) commits to Eastern University for baseball
Ethan Gwara (‘23), the three-year varsity player, has committed and will attend Eastern University next fall, majoring in Biology, on the Pre-Med track.
Gwara, who has been a three year varsity player for the East Baseball program, began playing baseball when he was 4. His parents were always “super involved in [his] career,” since the beginning. Outside of East, Gwara plays for “Colossal Sports Academy and the South Jersey Mutineers. On the Mutineers there are a bunch of East guys so it’s always a lot of fun to play with your high school guys.
”The recruiting process “was a lot of fun,” Gwara said, “the overnight visits were my favorite because they gave me time to bond with my potential new teammates.”
When it came to selecting a single school, Gwara said “he had a tough time selecting a single school, but Eastern had a beautiful campus, and the guys there were great.” He added, “Their coaching staff and their success in developing pitchers definitely attracted me.”
Gwara’s biggest inspiration throughout his career was his dad but two coaches named Chris Rollins and Jonathan Gonzalez also played a big role. Rollins was his pitching coach for a long time and he always gave me time to work in the weight room.
“Jonathan Gonzalez, “Gonzo,” has been my coach since 13u and he’s always put me in the position to succeed. A year ago, I started training with Christian Lee and he keeps my game constantly improving.”
He also wanted to thank his parents, “My parents always drove me to my tournaments and made sure that I was practicing with the right coaches to improve my game. They are my number one supporters and I wouldn’t be in the position I am today without them.”
At East, Gwara said “Coach Hutchinson made a huge impact; he always kept me in check and kept my head level.” Throughout high school, Gwara said his “baseball experience was a lot of fun because I got to play with my friends. I’m super excited to have a great year for my last ride.” Gwara’s best experience in our East program was “making the playoffs as the underdog. Nobody expected us to make the playoffs after a shaky start, but we got it together and played super well as a team.”
We are all excited to see what his academic and athletic career will bring.
Erica Kerner (’23) commits to Springfield College for swimming
Erica Kerner (‘23) has committed to Springfield College to continue her academic and swimming career. She started swimming at just three years old at Jersey Wahoos and has stuck with the sport ever since. Kerner has swimmed for the East Varsity swim team, Jersey Wahoos, and was a member of the Woodcrest swim team before the Covid-19 epidemic.
Growing up with two older sisters who swam, Kerner was eager to follow in their footsteps as she always looked up to these years of swimming. Kerner’s best event is the 200 fly and 4 IM, however she puts her best foot forward no matter what. Kerner has experienced a number of injuries throughout the years, with tendinitis being the most recent. She was passionate about swimming in college, therefore she persisted in working toward her objectives despite the injuries. Kerners’ family, friends, and coaches have been her biggest supporters throughout challenges, injuries, and pressure.
One of the most prominent people in Kerners swimming career is her coach, Dean Hutchinson. In addition to coaching Kerner’s two older sisters, Hutchinson assisted Kerner in overcoming challenges on both a mental and physical level.
Outside of school, Kerner lifts with her club team, Wahoos, to build strength and reach her goals. Since Kerner swims year-round, she does not have the normal “off season” that many other athletes have. The closest thing she gets to an off season would be the month of August where Kerner chooses to reflect, focus on her mental health and work out.
Kerner never gave up on her goal to swim for a collegiate team, and choosing Springfield was not a hard decision.
“Once I stepped on campus I knew it was the place for me, it felt like home” Says Kerner.
She was drawn to the swim team because they were so welcoming and “easy to bond with”. Kerner appreciated that Springfield provided several options in applied exercise science that may support her in pursuing her dream of being an athletic trainer. In the future, Kerner wants to work with NHL hockey teams. She is eager to enter a new environment, make new friends, and swim with a new team. As Kerner begins this new chapter in her life, there are countless opportunities and plenty to look forward to. We are sending you the best of luck!
Ethan Haddock (’23) commits to McDaniel college for baseball
Ethan Haddock (’23), a starting center fielder on the Cherry Hill East baseball team, will continue his academic and baseball career at McDaniel College next fall. Haddock has played baseball at East for many years and always knew he wanted to go to college for his sport. He and his team have had great seasons in the past, and Haddock hopes to have a good baseball season to finish out his senior year. His talent on the field has made him a standout baseball player in South Jersey. He’s been playing baseball since he was eight years old and is excited to continue in his next four years. He wanted to play in college because baseball is his favorite sport and is something he has always wanted to do.
Outside of East, Haddock plays for a travel baseball team called the South Jersey Mutineers. The South Jersey Mutineers is an 18U travel team in Cherry Hill, NJ. The team is filled with South Jersey’s best players and has helped prepare Haddock for where he is today. Out of all the schools interested in Haddock, he chose McDaniel College because he feels it has a “very inclusive community.” He says the players are really nice, so he looks forward to working with them and the new coach. Along with baseball, he also plays varsity football and basketball on the East teams. He will begin his semester next fall, majoring in business.
Playing baseball at East has helped build his love for the sport. His teammates and coaches have always inspired confidence in him, and he’s thankful for all they have done for him. His favorite memory of playing for East was getting his first hit in his sophomore year. He tells the story of how he got called up during the seventh inning of the game with two outs left, then had his great hit. After this game, he became a starting player on the team as only a sophomore. Cherry Hill East earned an amazing victory in the Lee Ware tournament in 10 innings and advanced to the playoffs. Haddock, in this game, had three hits, two RBI, and two runs. He remembers this day as the hottest game he’s ever played, but the team put out all their efforts and came through at the end.
Haddock’s athletic accomplishments are exciting. His friends, family, and community are excited about what the future holds for him.
Zachary Chhabria (’23) commits to Drew University for baseball
Zachary Chhabria has been an integral part of East High baseball for four years and has committed to Drew University to continue his athletic and academic career. He started playing baseball when he was only six years old and has since had the opportunity to play for the SJ Mutineers. Zachary’s dad and grandfather have been an inspiration during his baseball career, “teaching [him] valuable lessons about the game and offering advice to help [him] succeed.” His dad even gave him the number three, which he proudly wears on his jersey.
At East, Zachary has made a name for himself through his dedication and hard work. Dave Martin, one of the baseball coaches, noticed Zachary’s potential and helped him refine his stance and relax at the plate.
Throughout high school, Zachary’s baseball experience has been amazing. He fondly remembers winning the tournament last year and getting the first hit of the game, a double off the wall against a Division 1 commit. He also cherishes the moment he got his first varsity start by getting the very first ground ball of the game.
Zachary’s baseball experience has been one of dedication, hard work, and success. He has worked diligently to become the best player he can be and has made a lasting impact on the East High baseball program. His determination and drive have paid off, and his favorite memory from his high school career will undoubtedly remain with him for many years to come and we are excited to see what the future holds for him.