Wells High senior Emma Badger signs a national letter of intent Wednesday to play soccer at Boston College, as her family looks on. She set a Wells single-season record by scoring 30 goals this fall. Mike Lowe photo

WELLS — Wells High School has produced some outstanding female athletes over the years, but none, according to school officials, had ever become a Division I college athlete.

That changed on Wednesday with not just one, but two.

Basketball player Grace Ramsdell and soccer player Emma Badger signed national letters of intent to continue their athletic careers at the NCAA Division I level. Ramsdell signed with Merrimack College, a member of the Northeast Conference, and Badger signed with Boston College, a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“It’s pretty amazing for a small town to have two girls sign D1 on the same day,” said Wells Athletic Director Pat Moody. “But it’s a testament to what goes on in this community. Sports is a very integral, important, part of it.”

Wednesday was the first day of the signing period for high school seniors who plan to compete in any NCAA sport except football. The signing period lasts until Nov. 17 for Division I basketball, and until Aug. 1, 2022, for all other Division I and II sports. The national letter of intent is a mutual guarantee between a college and a student-athlete regarding athletic-based financial aid.

Ramsdell and Badger were joined by family members, friends and teammates.

“It’s awesome,” said Ramsdell. “To be able to represent my school and my team and my community is just awesome, and to have everyone here supporting me is great.”

“Oh my gosh, it’s an absolute dream come true,” said Badger, who scored a school single-season record 30 goals this fall. “There’s a lot of hard work that went into this and I’m so grateful to finally be here doing it.”

While Ramsdell and Badger play different sports, the common denominator between them was a willingness to work. Badger spent three years driving back-and-forth to Massachusetts to play club soccer to improve her game. She now plays for Seacoast United Academy in Epping, New Hampshire.

“She was an amazing leader for us,” said Wells Coach Cynthia McDonnell. “She was a great teammate, an unselfish player. She was versatile and played wherever I needed her.”

A midfielder/striker for the Warriors, Badger will play center back for Boston College.

“This means a lot to her,” said her mother, Lindsay Badger. “She put in a lot of hard work for this.”

Emma Badger said Boston College was her top choice because of its academic offerings and its competition. As a member of the ACC, she noted, BC faces some of the top women’s soccer players in the nation.

“I just have a passion for soccer,” she said. “I knew I wanted to see how far I could go with it.”

Ramsdell has unique skills for a 5-foot-11 inside player in that she can shoot the 3-pointer and handle the ball. Good qualities, she said, considering she’ll likely play on the wing in college and not inside.

Wells High senior Grace Ramsdell signs a national letter of intent Wednesday to play basketball at Merrimack College. She is flanked by her parents, Dean and Darcy Ramsdell. Mike Lowe photo

“She had an uncommon desire to be good,” said Wells girls’ basketball coach Don Abbott, who also coached her three older sisters. “She’s a unique blend of a kid who is physically gifted and is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever had. She dedicated herself to become the best she could be.”

Ramsdell, who combined with her sister, Franny (now at the University of Southern Maine), to help the Warriors win the school’s first Class B girls’ basketball state championship in 2020, said Merrimack was her obvious choice once she visited the campus. “You hear about getting on campus and getting that feeling, like it’s home,” she said. “Right when I met the coaches and the team, I watched a practice, I got that feeling.”

Several other high school seniors from southern Maine signed letters of intent on Wednesday or plan to soon. They include:

Scarborough’s Dom Campbell, a 6-foot-9 basketball player at Phillips Exeter Academy who previously attended Waynflete, will sign his letter of intent to play at Notre Dame on Tuesday in a ceremony at Phillips Exeter.

• Eight baseball players from Maine affiliated with the Maine Lightning program will be signing either Division I or II letters, led by Greely senior Zach Johnston, a 6-foot-7 left-handed pitcher who will sign with Wake Forest.

Johnston had verbally committed to Maryland before his junior high school season. A coaching change at Maryland and a dominant performance this summer at the Area Code Games prompted Johnston to reopen his recruitment process. Unlike the offer from Maryland, Wake Forest is not asking Johnston to take a gap year, said Lightning coach Ryan Copp, who is also Johnston’s uncle.

Also expected to sign for baseball are Sam Clark of Scarborough (Cheverus), a right-handed pitcher headed to Connecticut; catcher Ryan Kolben of Greely, to Massachusetts; pitcher/outfielder Cody Bowker of Bowdoinham (Thornton Academy) to Georgetown; left-handed pitcher Colton Trish of Bangor to George Washington; left-handed pitcher Blaine Cockburn of Freeport to Maine; right-handed pitcher Colin McDonald of Gorham to Maine; and catcher Kevin Connolly of Cheverus to Stonehill.

• Windham’s Sarah Talon, who helped the Eagles win the Class A girls’ soccer title, plans to sign a letter of intent Monday to play basketball at the University of Maine.

“The second I stepped foot on the Maine campus, I felt like family. The atmosphere and chemistry that was felt while I was with the coaching staff was like something I’ve never felt before. Not only the coaching staff, but the group of girls that they coach,” Talon said. “The decision that I wanted to play basketball at Maine wasn’t a hard choice. I knew from the first day I made a visit on campus that Maine was a perfect fit for me.

“Playing my senior season with a decision already made is a huge relief. It gives me the opportunity to have this senior season to just play and have fun and enjoy it.”

• Two lacrosse players at Thornton Academy in Saco signed on Wednesday. Grace Veroneau will attend Anderson University, a Division II school in South Carolina. And Alex St. John signed with the men’s lacrosse program at High Point University, a Division I program in North Carolina.

• Greely High’s Chelsea Gravier plans to sign with Stonehill College, a Division II school in Easton, Massachusetts, next Wednesday at the high school. She plays basketball for the Maine Firecrackers AAU program.

• Bonny Eagle distance runner Delaney Hesler, the 2021 Class A individual state champion in girls’ cross country, signed a letter of intent Wednesday with the University of New Hampshire.

• Cheverus High has three athletes who plan to sign next Wednesday at a ceremony at the school. They are Riley O’Mara, women’s lacrosse at Bryant University; Kate Hahn, rowing at Notre Dame; and Kiera Delahanty, equestrian at the University of Kentucky.

Staff writers Steve Craig and Travis Lazarczyk contributed to this report.


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