LINCOLN – Three Lincoln High School student-athletes sat at a table inside the school’s library Wednesday afternoon, tending to some pretty important business.
For months all of them took comfort in knowing that they selected the right college, the place of higher learning where they felt most comfortable upon completing their high school requirements. With the clock reading 4:17 p.m., the Lincoln seniors picked up a pen and with family, coaches and school administrators present, carefully signed the document before them.
Seconds after inking their respective Letter-of-Intent, a polite round of applause sounded. The entire sequence captured the very spirit of National Signing Day, the honorees including softball teammates Lindsay Mayer and Emily Bouthillette along with baseball player Nick Zammarelli.
By taking the course of action they did, Mayer, Bouthillette and Zammarelli definitively shed the “verbal commitment” tag and became reclassified as signed, sealed and soon-to-be delivered college attendees. Mayer and Bouthillette will continue their careers at the University of Virginia and Bryant University, respectively, while Zammarelli heads off to North Carolina’s Elon University.
Position-wise, Mayer will play shortstop at Virginia while Bouthillette figures to patrol third base for Bryant. Zammarelli’s role at Elon sounds to be jack-of-all-trades with first base, third base and the corner outfield spots all possibilities.
After the brief pomp and circumstance – included were several rounds of pictures and a simple yet heartfelt speech by Lincoln Principal Kevin McNamara – the group reflected on the journey that each of them had taken leading up to this moment and the relief they felt knowing that everything is as official as it gets.
“It’s a big weight off our shoulders,” said Zammarelli. “Now we don’t have to worry about who’s sitting in the stands; we can play for ourselves and the team.”
Added Mayer, “When I was younger, I never thought something like this would happen, so I’m definitely happy that (the day to ink the LOI) is finally here.”
Mayer made her intentions known that she wanted to become a Cavalier during the fall of her junior year. Zammarelli followed a similar course of action last winter following several visits to Elon’s campus. Bouthillette rounded out the trio of Division I commits in September when she opted to join the Bulldog softball team.
All three of them took their verbals seriously, realizing that there was no turning back upon pledging their support.
“Word quickly spreads, but you do get the occasional e-mail. That’s when you just let them know,” Zammarelli simply stated.
“I felt (at peace about my selection) when I had to call other college coaches who were recruiting me and telling them where I was going,” said Mayer. “It was relief softball-wise but also school-wise. We’re seniors and we don’t have to worry about (the college selection process).”
The question of fit – choosing a university that they could see themselves flourish at – was one that was front-and-center during the trio’s decision-making process.
“I committed to Elon after my third time on campus,” shared Zammarelli. “I got to know the coaches and the players and they’re all great guys … I knew it was the right place for me.”
“I knew the first time I set foot on (Virginia’s) campus that it was the place where I could see myself in the future,” said Mayer. “As I continued to look at schools, I narrowed down (the possible choices) in my head, knowing that Virginia was the best fit both for softball and academics.”
Stated Bouthillette, “At the (Bryant-based softball clinics she attended), I felt comfortable and able to express myself. I didn’t hold back anything thanks to the coaches and players putting everyone at ease.”
Just because Mayer, Bouthillette and Zammarelli can breathe easier doesn’t mean that they can coast until graduation day arrives. Come springtime, Mayer and Bouthillette will serve as vital cogs in Lincoln’s quest to repeat as state softball champs while Zammarelli hopes to lift the Lincoln to a prominent place among the Division I baseball ranks.
“Obviously you want to keep your grades up and the (college) coaches, they don’t want to see you have a bad season,” Zammarelli stated. “You’ve got to keep working hard in the winter and continue it over into the spring. You have expectations to live up to.”
Besides playing baseball, Zammarelli was also part of Lincoln’s hockey program. With an enticing scholarship package on the table, he thought it would be best to hang up the skates and continue to hone his baseball skills. On the flip side, Bouthillette will suit up for the high school’s girls’ basketball team after playing on the Lions’ girls’ volleyball team during the just-completed fall campaign.
“I would have felt bad if I stopped playing,” Bouthillette expressed.
It’s not often you see three kids from a public high school who have achieved so much sign on to play at the Division I level on the same day, but you did at Lincoln on Wednesday.
“It’s important to get out there that Lincoln has good athletics and that people can go somewhere from here,” Zammarelli expressed.
McNamara took it a step further when he told a room that included athletic director Brian Fineberg, baseball head coach Andy Hallam and softball head coach Dick Ryan that, “Know that you’ve done Lincoln High proud and we can’t read about your accomplishments on the diamond and in the classroom.”