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Graduating Atlantic City High athletes choose their next step

  • Sports

Three Atlantic City High School student-athletes announced their plans for college this week.

State Champion swimmer James Haney will head to the University of Delaware, Mia D’Arco will play lacrosse for Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pa., and Vikings quarterback Joseph Lyons III will compete for a spot on the field at Lycoming College, in Williamsport, Pa.

All three athletes make the district proud, Athletic Director Chris Ford said .

“Obviously our goal as coaches and directors is always to win state championships, and we do have a state champion right here,” Ford said. “But the bigger goal is for our kids to go to college to participate in athletics.”

Champion swimmer becomes Blue Hen

photoJames Haney

James Haney has worked diligently to join the University of Delaware's swim team.

“I’m very excited about beginning my journey as a Blue Hen for the next four years,” Haney said. “It’s been one of my goals for about two years to gain myself a roster spot on the team.”

Haney started swimming competitively when he was about 10 years old. He has trained with the Ocean City-based East Coast C-Cerpants swim club for about eight years.

"James Haney is our first state champion and All American at the East Coast C-Cerpants," said Donnie Cotter, C-Cerpants coach and owner. "The coaches at ECCC are extremely excited. He was interested in the University of Delaware, and I'm very happy his dream came true."

The 18-year-old senior lives in the city's Chelsea Heights section. 

He recently took first place at the State Individual Swimming Championship for the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 48.56 seconds.

Haney has also broken multiple school records in various events, including the 400-meter freestyle, the 200-meter individual medley and the 100-meter backstroke.

Atlantic City High School Boys Head Swimming Coach Kris Ciuro said Haney is a well-rounded individual with a bright future.

“He does double practices. He’s hitting the weight room. He helps the underclassmen,” Ciuro said. “He’s a locker room guy and much as he is an athlete.”

Haney brought home the first state championship in more than 50 years.

“James will go down as the best swimmer in the history of Atlantic City High School,” Ford said. “He broke seven of his own school records during this past season.”

Athletics and accounting

photoMia D'Arco 


Mia D’Arco said that Susquehanna University had both the athletic and academic programs that she needed. 

She wants to graduate with an accounting major in four years.

“It was one of the first schools I looked at,” said D'Arco, who plays midfield. “They have everything I’m looking for.”

D’Arco said she will work hard to make her presence known on the field.

“Going into college I hope to have a starting position. But obviously that will come with getting to know the team and the team getting to know me,” D’Arco said.

D’Arco is described as an aggressive, dedicated team player. She has a strong commitment to academics as well.

“I have been playing lacrosse since fourth grade and competitively on a club team since fifth grade,” D’Arco said on her Connectlax profile, which helps lacrosse players find the appropriate college program. “When I first started out, I was on defense and progressed with my skill set to the position of Midfield. 

"As a second-year varsity starting player, I was awarded MVP for the 2022 high school season along with the top scorer for the season, Cape Atlantic League All Stars Honorable Mention and Press of Atlantic City 2022 All Stars Honorable Mention," she added.

D’Arco also plays for the Jersey Shore Select lacrosse club team.

“My experience as a club player has helped build bonds with girls, coaches and refs from different schools and leagues and has given me life-long connections that make me love the sport that much more,” she said. “I'm a dedicated and committed well-rounded honors and multi-sport varsity student-athlete looking to further my education while growing in a sport I have loved since picking up my first stick at 8 years old.”

Head Girl’s Lacrosse Coach Frank Christy said he is excited about the possibilities before D’Arco.

“She’s the backbone of our team,” Christy said. “She is happily going to Susquehanna University to continue her athletic career, majoring in accounting and I can see her going very far in that. I wish her the best of luck in her next chapter of life.”

Feeling at home

photoJoseph Lyons III


Joseph Lyons III said he immediately was drawn to Lycoming.

“It felt like home as soon as I stepped on campus,” he said.

Lyons was named to the South Jersey First Team offense this past December. He threw 30 touchdown passes and completed 155 of 264 passes for 2,526 yards.

Lyons said he is excited about the whole Lycoming program.

“They have a great defensive line,” Lyons said. “They have a first team all-conference receiver coming back and two great running backs.”

Atlantic City High School Football Coach Keenan Wright said he is glad Lyons feels confident about his decision.

“I'm thrilled that he found a place to call home,” Wright said. “I told him throughout the entire process, 'Go where you are wanted.'”

Lycoming is a good fit Wright said of Lyons, who has made his mark on the Atlantic City High School football program.

“He will be missed here, not just on the field but his leadership,” Wright said.

Atlantic City High School Principal Constance Days-Chapman told all three that they have the school community’s full support.

“This is just the outcome of hard work and dedication,” she said. “We want you to know that we celebrate you and we cannot wait to see what you do in the future. We will, after graduation, be following along and cheering you on.”

(This story was produced by and reprinted with the permission of the Atlantic City Public Schools system, whose website is

Monday, April 15, 2024
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