WARRENSBURG - Nearly 100 students and faculty members packed the hallway at the Warrensburg High School gymnasium.
"Aaaa-Beee, Aaaa-Bee," they chanted, as video cameras pointed at stellar Burgher athlete, Abby Roth, standing at a table draped in school colors, blue and gold.
Roth smiled, then got down to business, signing various documents including a national Letter of Intent to play Division 1 field hockey at Central Michigan University.
Roth received a four-year athletic and academic scholarship, worth over $100,000 to the college, renowned for its field hockey program.
Warrensburg High School Principal Doug Duell watched her sign the letter.
"This is a big deal," he said. "She's worked very hard as an athlete and as a student, and this is a wonderful honor for her and her family."
WCS Athletic Director Steve Nolan stood next to Roth as she scrawled her signature.
"For a school the size of ours, this is a major accomplishment," he said. "Abby's commitment and dedication got her to this point."
Nearby, Roth's sister Kerrigan and fellow student Brittany DeCrescente held a banner that read: "Congratulations, Abby!"
"This is like a dream come true for her - she's always wanted to play Division I field hockey," Kerrigan said, recalling how her sister had for years helped her learn the basics of hockey, passing and shooting towards a goal Abby set up in their back yard. "Ever since I was young, I wanted to be like her - she was so good at sports."
The signing ceremony took place beside a glass case stuffed with gold statuettes, trophies and plaques for field hockey, awards that included a New York State runner-up championship trophy. Roth is a two-time All-State athlete and a three-time regional All-Star. For the past two years, she's been Offensive MVP in Section II, and in 2006, the field hockey team was Sectional Champions. She was a member of the 2007 New York State All-Tournament Team.
Roth was a major element of that 2007 team that fought into the state finals, and other teams WCS that won local and regional honors. Also, she's been a standout on both the WCS Softball team and on the school's wrestling team, often winning against musclebound male competitors.
Minutes after the signing ceremony, Abby Roth's Warrensburg field hockey coach Mary ann Bump cut into a congratulatory cake and served it to Roth's fans - fellow students.
"She'll set a fire there at Central Michigan like she did here - as a catalyst for our teams," Bump said. "She has an outstanding work ethic - wanting to do the very best, whether it's a sprint or scoring a goal, her efforts are all-out 100 percent. She was always the 'flash-and-dash,' the hot sauce on our team."
Later, Abby recalled that she'd grown up with a hockey stick in her hand, playing with a miniature stick since she could walk. Her mother Bonnie was an assistant Varsity coach at WCS.
In second grade, she showed her at the WCS field hockey Play Day, sparring with the recruits from the fourth through sixth grades.
Then in 2001, she followed the WCS varsity team to the State Championship finals, and served as ball girl.
"Riding the bus with the Varsity players was just the best time," Roth recalled. "I wanted to be just like them."
As the crowd of her fellow students began to dissipate, Roth looked at the jammed hallway.
"This kind of support feels good," she said. "It's nice to grow up in a small town, where everyone is so close - I'll miss everyone when I'm at college."
Roth changed her focus, gazing out the door.
"But I'm excited to go; I can't wait to play field hockey - I've wanted this ever since I was in third grade."