On Feb. 7, the following members of the Pace Academy Class of 2021 committed to continue their athletics careers at the collegiate level:
Matthew Cleveland - Florida State, basketball
Evan Karetsos - Dickinson College, lacrosse
Lizzy Kaye - University of Virginia, diving
Amalie Little - Wesleyan University, swimming
Cole Middleton - Cleveland State University, basketball
Sydney Silverstein - Denison University, softball
Evan Smith-Rooks - Oberlin College, football
Jonny Sundermeier - Trinity College, track
Alexander Swann - Middlebury College, track
Jayden Thomas - University of Notre Dame, football
Matthew Cleveland began his high-school basketball career at Cambridge High School, where he set the record for most points in a season—a feat he repeated during his first season as a Pace Knight. That same year, Matthew played a pivotal role in Pace’s 2020 state title and earned innumerable accolades, including Naismith All-American Honorable Mention and MaxPreps Junior All-American Honorable Mention. He received Player of the Year honors from the Georgia Coaches Association, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, On the Radar Hoops, HoopSeen Georgia, Sandy’s Spiel and the Georgia High School Association. In addition, the Atlanta Tip-Off Club named Matthew to its All-Metro First Team, and USA Today included him on its list of nominees for Atlanta Player of the Year. This season, Matthew has helped lead the Knights to a 19-1 record, and basketball fans around the country are paying attention. He is a Gatorade Georgia Player of the Year Finalist and is on watch lists for the MaxPreps National Player of the Year and the Atlanta Tipoff Club Jersey Mike’s Naismith High School Boys Trophy. An AAU standout, Matthew received offers from 30 schools before committing to Florida State University.
Evan Karetsos is a four-year member of the varsity lacrosse team. This past spring, he earned the Most Valuable Player Award and led the Knights to their first-ever undefeated season. As a sophomore, Evan was the team’s Unsung Hero Award winner, and his freshman year, he received the Spirit of the Game Award. Off the field, Evan leads and serves as a commentator for KnightFlix, Pace’s live streaming broadcast service. He has worked as a counselor at the Keeping Pace summer program and, last year, launched Evan & Niko Lacrosse Training for youth players in Atlanta.
This past week, Lizzy Kaye wrapped up her Pace swimming and diving career with her fourth consecutive GHSA state diving title and top-10 state finishes as part of the 200 medley, 200 free and 400 free relays. Lizzy, who also dives with the Atlanta Diving Association, is the 2020 Georgia Diver of the Year and a three-time All-American. She holds every Pace Middle and Upper School diving record. Out of the pool, Lizzy has represented the Knights as a cheerleader and a founding member of Pace’s flag football team. She also set the school pole vaulting record, which makes her the only Pace student-athlete to ever hold records in three different sports: diving, swimming and track and field. In addition, Lizzy is a Peer Leader and a member of PASS, the Student Advisory Board and the White Affinity Group for Racial Equality. She won a Silver Key for sculpture in the 2021 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and received the school’s Lance & Shield Award in 2019. Lizzy has served numerous organizations around Atlanta through Pace’s community engagement program, and has been an active participant in the Metro Atlanta Project, an initiative of Northside Methodist Church.
A force in the pool, Amalie Little has qualified for the state swim meet in each of her four years on the varsity team. Most recently, Amalie finished fifth in the state with the 400 free relay team, sixth with the 200 medley relay and 16th as an individual in the 100 free. She received the swim team’s Coaches Award as a sophomore and was its Standout Freshman. Amalie is also a four-year member of the varsity lacrosse team and was named Rookie of the Year as a sophomore. An American Water Polo Association Scholar Athlete, Amalie petitioned the Georgia High School Water Polo Association to prevent the elimination of co-ed teams. She is a member of the National Honor Society, Pace Ambassadors, PASS, Junior Classical League, the Pace band and the Knight Gallery staff. She is an Orkin Scholar and an AP Scholar with Distinction and received the Crissa Hawkins Memorial Scholarship as a junior. Since sixth grade, Amalie has participated in Swim Across America to raise funds to cure childhood cancer; she has captained the team the past four years.
In his four years on the court, Cole Middleton has been a key contributor to the varsity basketball team’s success—most recently, the Knights’ 2020 state championship, in which he was the leading scorer. A preseason All-State pick this year, Cole has led the Knights to a 19-1 record thus far and hopes to take the team back to the state finals in March. As a junior, Cole was named one of Georgia’s top five rim protectors in the Class of 2021 and received All-Metro or All-State honors from the Georgia High School Association, the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association, Hoopseen Georgia, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Atlanta Tipoff Club. His sophomore year, Cole earned preseason All-State recognition and the basketball team’s Knight Award; he was also MVP of the Skill Factory Underclassmen All-Star Game. He made the All-Region team as a freshman. Off the court, Cole is co-president of the Black Student Alliance and an Orkin Scholar. He received the Crissa Hawkins Memorial Scholarship as a junior and the Lance and Shield Award his freshman year.
Pace Academy softball has seen unprecedented success in recent years, thanks in part to Sydney Silverstein, a four-year member of the team. Sydney served as a captain and earned the team’s Leadership Award this year, and she was the Knights’ Defensive Player of the Year in 2017 and 2019. In addition to earning All-Region First Team recognition all four seasons, Sydney was named a National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-America Scholar Athlete. Sydney’s passion for softball and significant skill have taken her across the globe—she traveled to Israel to participate in the Maccabi Junior Games, where she and Team USA brought home the gold. Off the diamond, Sydney is a Peer Leader, a Pace Ambassador, and a member of PASS and the Student Advisory Board. She is president of Miracle Knights, a group that raises funds for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Outside of school, Sydney plays softball for Georgia Impact - Grace and serves as a mentor for NYO’s Minors Fastpitch Softball.
In just two years at Pace, Evan Smith-Rooks has made a big impact. As a quarterback on the varsity football team, Evan helped lead the Knights to the 2019 and 2020 GHSA state playoffs, and he’s excited to be back on the baseball diamond for Pace this spring. Evan has also played 7v7 football with the Youth Passing League and Athletes Get Recruited. He was the top quarterback in 2019’s Elite Georgia Showcase and Georgia Army National Guard North/South All-Star Classic, and he played in the 2019 Georgia Elite Classic Brain Bowl. He also plays travel baseball. Evan is an active community volunteer and gives his time to organizations such as Meals on Wheels, the Atlanta BeltLine, the Will to Live Foundation and the North Metro Miracle League. He is a member of Miracle Knights, the Knight Capital investment club and the chess club, and is also an umpire with Atlanta International Umpires.
Jonny Sundermeier is a four-year member of the varsity track and field team and competes in the 400 meter dash, 4x400 meter relay and 300-meter hurdles for the Knights. Jonny earned the team’s Mr. Consistency Award his junior year, and competed at the state meet as a sophomore. Jonny has also run cross-country since his freshman year and has been on the Knights’ top-12 state team all four years. This past season, he received the Coaches Award. A young man of many talents, Jonny is a gifted piano player and was recognized as an Arts Laureate his junior year. He is an active member of his church youth group and co-founded and leads the Men’s Homeless Breakfast Club.
A four-year letterman on the varsity track and field team, Alexander Swann wrapped up his sophomore season with an 11th-place finish in the 300-meter hurdles at the state meet—the fastest time for a sophomore—and the team’s Most Improved Award. The three-time team captain hopes to return to state for the Knights this spring. Alexander ran cross-country for four years and is a founding member of the Pace Ultimate Frisbee Club. His competitive spirit serves him well as a member of the robotics team. The team captain, lead programmer and 2018 Rookie of the Year, Alexander qualified for the state robotics competition as a sophomore and advanced to the state quarterfinals his junior year. Alexander is a member of the National Honor Society and has served on the Knight Gallery staff. He received the Georgia Tech Science Award, the Cara Isdell Lee Service Learning Award and the first-place prize in the 2019 Pace Academy Social Entrepreneurship Challenge. Outside of school, he serves as a docent at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History and has participated in the Duke TIP Program for three years.
Jayden Thomas has been a stand-out member of the varsity football team since his freshman year, when he was named a Football University Freshman All-American and a member of the All-Region Honorable Mention team. Jayden received the football team’s Iron Knight Award both his freshman and sophomore years and was a Recruit Georgia Play of the Week winner and MVP as a sophomore. A four-star wide receiver, Jayden captained the Knights his junior year and received All-Region recognition for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. He was a Sports Stars of Tomorrow featured athlete and a Sports Illustrated All-American candidate. A four-year varsity baseball letterman, Jayden received All-Region recognition as a freshman and sophomore, and he helped lead the Knights to a state runner-up finish in 2019, the same year he was named to the All-State team. He is a Peer Leader and received the 2018 Frances Felicite Thomas Citizenship Award and the 2019 Lance and Shield Award 2019. Jayden has volunteered with several organizations that assist those experiencing homelessness, as well as with Keeping Pace, Acworth Warriors Youth Football and the Matthew Cares Foundation.
These students continue a long tradition of strong student-athletes at Pace Academy. Thirteen members of the Pace Academy Class of 2020 currently participate in college athletics; there are 110 students in the Class of 2021.