As Notre Dame Prep senior Katie Railey sat with 11 of her lacrosse teammates preparing to sign their National Letters of Intent on Wednesday, she thought about many of them as little girls.
"A lot of these girls play for my club team and seeing everyone grow up from when they were little to now, it really seemed possible that all of us could go and sign. It's really cool," said Railey, who signed with Virginia.
Railey and her Blazers teammates were among dozens of high school athletes from around the Baltimore area who signed letters of intent to receive college athletic scholarships to Division I or Division II programs on National Signing Day, the first day of the early signing period for lacrosse, basketball, baseball, softball and most other sports.
Around a crowded table in the lobby of the NDP athletic center, Keegan Barger (Johns Hopkins), Emily Cooper (Marquette), Grace Haus (Florida), Lucy Lowe (Penn State), Luisa Mangione (Virginia Commonwealth), Natalya Moody (George Mason), Brooke Myrick (Gardner Webb), Paulina Perkovich (Iona), Halle Regan (Vanderbilt) and Allison Stofregen (Monmouth) also signed their letters of intent along with equestrian Lauren Rachuba (Texas A&M).
"It's just so exciting," Regan said after signing. "I've worked so hard for this, and my family, my coaches, everyone I've been through school with supported me and I'm just so excited to finally be signing my letter, finally making it official."
The Blazers' lacrosse senior class includes 16 players, and assistant coach Brian Hartman — filling in while coach Mac Ford was out of town — said all likely will play lacrosse in college.
"This senior class is off the charts," Hartman said.
For Barger, one of two Blazers who will stay close to home along with Navy commit Gillian Eby, it was hard to believe signing day had finally arrived.
"It was kind of weird, taking it in," Barger said. "It's gone by so fast, committing sophomore year — because lacrosse [recruiting] is so early — and waiting so long and finally being able to sign. It's an honor to sign with such a great place and with so many other classmates that have committed to great places. It just shows what an athletic class we have here."
The Notre Dame Prep ceremony honored 23 seniors bound for college sports, including six planning to play Division III lacrosse — Autumn Arvig (Roger Williams), Katherine Behlen (Catholic), Caroline Gathagan (Gettysburg), Megan Jackson (Franklin & Marshall), Catherine Keirn (who will also play field hockey at Washington College) and Francesca Ziccardi (St. Mary's). Volleyball player Brooke Newell (Gettysburg) and field hockey player Arden Scheetz (Gettysburg) also signed. Soccer players Ashley Gabor (Penn) and Erica Carpenter (Saint Francis, Pa.) were also on honored, although signing day for soccer — and football — is in February.
St. Frances forward Mia Davis, the area's top senior girls basketball player, can't wait to sign with Temple although she won't ink her National Letter of Intent until Tuesday, the final day of the early signing period.
"It actually feels great that it's almost here," said Davis, who plans to become a doctor. "All the hard work paid off and I get to finally play in the college that I picked to go to instead of a college picking me."
Davis committed to the Owls last month over 20 other offers. An All-Metro forward and the area's premier rebounder last season, she averaged 17.6 points and 14 rebounds for the No. 1 Panthers, the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference champions.
"I have to say thanks to my family, friends and coaches who supported me through the whole process," she said. "The process has been long, but I've met a lot of great people through it and made good relationships and I'm just so happy."
Davis will be joined by teammates Kierra Jackson (Massachusetts-Lowell) and Jatarrikah Settle (Mount St. Mary's) at a signing ceremony in the St. Frances chapel. All three were also teammates with the AAU Maryland Lady Shooting Stars.
At Calvert Hall's ceremony Wednesday afternoon, the steady stream of standout lacrosse players signing to play at Ohio State continued with All-Metro first-team attackman JT Bugliosi and midfielder Omari DeBerry excited by the prospect of becoming Buckeyes.
The current Ohio State roster has two Calvert Hall grads in junior Erik Evans and senior Johnny Kelly with a lengthy list of past Cardinals already through the program, including Carter Brown, Kevin Buchanan and Greg Dutton.
"I just had a really good experience when I went out for my visit and obviously with the pipeline out there, it was very comfortable," said Bugliosi, who plans to study finance. "It was really comforting to have a few people out there you know. They helped me a lot and a really important person was Carter Brown. When I went out there, he walked me around and told me all the great things about Ohio State. He just really made me excited about the opportunity. I wanted the big-school atmosphere and I wanted a place where they other sports I could go watch, and they had the education I was looking for at the school."
The two programs have a special bond stemming from an annual charity college lacrosse scrimmage every fall featuring Ohio State and Calvert Hall coach Bryan Kelly's alma mater, North Carolina. All proceeds benefit the Michael R. Breschi Scholarship Fund, which honors the late son of North Carolina coach Joe Breschi, formerly the coach at Ohio State. In 2004, when Joe Breschi was at Ohio State, Michael was 3 years old when he was killed after being hit by an SUV.
Making the jump from Calvert Hall to Ohio State, DeBerry is looking forward to going from one quality program to another.
"It's a great opportunity for me. It's huge to be able to go to a top D-I school and play Big 10 lacrosse. I've been dreaming of this since I was a little kid, so it's pretty exciting," DeBerry said.