Even before he played high school baseball, Cape Elizabeth senior Brendan Tinsman knew his college choice would be Wake Forest.

Hannah Abbott, a Cheverus senior, had her target school picked out long before that. Her father, Steve, is the former athletic director at the University of Maine. His father, Walt, retired from UMaine in 2010 after 54 years at the school, including nine as head football coach.

“My grandfather has lived there his whole life,” Abbott said Tuesday after signing her letter of intent to play field hockey at the University of Maine. “I’ve run around campus since I was little.”

Abbott and Tinsman were among several Maine high school seniors who placed pen to paper Tuesday to officially signal the start of their collegiate careers at Division I or II schools, which, unlike those in Division III, can offer athletic scholarship money. The letter acts as a binding two-way agreement between student and institution in which the student agrees to attend college full time for at least a year and the institution agrees to provide athletic financial aid.

Other signings Tuesday included three at Division II Assumption College (Biddeford’s Leia Dorais for cross country, Westbrook’s Justin Copetta for baseball and Cheverus’ Emme Poulin for basketball) and two at St. Anselm’s (Westbrook’s Maddison LeBeau for field hockey and Biddeford’s Brook Davis for softball).

On Monday night, Lake Region senior lacrosse players Lauren Jakobs (Assumption) and Lindsay Keenan (American International College) signed. Grace McGouldrick of Gorham signed last week to play softball at the UMaine and Mackenzie Aleva of Noble is expected to sign Wednesday night to play softball at American International College, in Springfield, Massachusetts.

The fall signing window that opened last week closes Wednesday night. A spring signing period begins April 11. Football and soccer have a separate signing period that begins Feb. 7.

Tinsman, an all-state catcher who batted .491 for Cape Elizabeth last spring, said he fell in love with Wake Forest after visiting the campus for a showcase event in the fall of his freshman year and made a verbal commitment then and there.

“I knew it was the right fit right away,” Tinsman said following a brief ceremony in the school lobby attended by his parents, grandmother and three siblings. “I looked at a couple other places, but Wake Forest was the one that I really, truly wanted to go to.”

In the summers between his high school years, Tinsman played for travel teams based in California, Virginia and Massachusetts. His brother, Chris, played at Rhode Island and his sister, Ashley, is a junior on Maine’s softball team.

“We have a batting cage out in our barn that has really helped me a lot because I can hit whenever I want,” Tinsman said. “It helps out a lot being surrounded by people who love what you love.”

Abbott said she is among four homegrown field hockey players being recruited to play at UMaine. The others are Kelsey Mehuren of Belfast, Sydney Meader of Boothbay Region and Claire Scobie of Hampden Academy.

“It’s nice to see Maine kids come to Maine,” Walt Abbott said Tuesday. “You have a great school and a great education, so take advantage of it.”

Also attending Tuesday’s ceremony at Cheverus was Bates field hockey coach Dani Ryder, who runs the Coastal Field Hockey summer club that Abbott joined after her freshman year.

“Hannah and Maddison (LeBeau) and Lucy (Malia, of Scarborough, expected to sign with Assumption) are some of our original athletes that we worked with,” Ryder said. “It’s been fun to watch them grow and finally have this success moment.”

Of course, it’s hard to compare with a grandfather’s pride, particularly one who has been driving his pickup down I-95 for several years to watch his granddaughter play in Portland.

“He was so happy,” Hannah Abbott said of Walt. “The first thing he said was, ‘No more miles on the truck!’ Now he’s (going to be) right down the road. It’s going to be exciting.”

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