Teammates hug JP Estrella in the final seconds of South Portland High’s victory over Oxford Hills in the Class AA boys’ basketball championship game in March. Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald

For JP Estrella and many other athletes in southern Maine, Wednesday was a day they had been looking forward to for a long time.

It was the first day when high school seniors could officially sign a National Letter of Intent to compete in any NCAA sport except football. The NLI is a mutual guarantee between a college and a student regarding athletic-based financial aid.

For Estrella, the 6-foot-11 center who led South Portland to the 2022 Class AA boys’ basketball championship, his choice was the University of Tennessee.

Now attending Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, the 18-year-old senior and several of his teammates at the prep school power were in the Brewster offices before 8 a.m., ready to make things official.

“Usually mornings are a little slow around here, but this morning me and my roommates, we came into the offices and we were all singing and dancing. Well, that was me mostly, I’m not going to lie,” Estrella said.

The early signing period for Division I basketball lasts until Nov. 16, with a second window between April 12 and May 13, 2023. Athletes for the other Division I sports except football can sign until Aug. 1, 2023. Football has two signing periods: Dec. 21-23 and a second one that starts Feb. 1, 2023.


Estrella said when he made his unofficial verbal commitment to Tennessee, he would be signing during the early period.

By 8:15 a.m., Estrella’s necessary paperwork had been delivered electronically to the Tennessee offices.

“Everyone has been texting me, especially (assistant) Coach Rod (Clark), saying ‘Let’s go. Ready to rock and roll,'” Estrella said.

Estrella was recruited as a big man with perimeter skills projected to be able to score and set up others from the outside while being a rebounding and shot-blocking force on defense. In his first game for Brewster Academy this past Saturday, he had 10 points, eight rebounds, seven blocks and two assists in 23 minutes off the bench.

Scarborough High senior Ali Mokriski celebrated her National Letter of Intent signing with Bryant University women’s soccer with a ceremony Wednesday at the the high school. She was joined by her mother, Trish, her sister, Kate, and her father, Ciaran. Wednesday was the first day for high school seniors to sign an NLI. Steve Craig photo

Scarborough soccer star Ali Mokriski sent her official signing documents to Bryant University, a Division I program in Smithfield, Rhode Island, early Wednesday morning. Later in the day, she celebrated with a ceremony at the school attended by close friends and family.

Mokriski scored 22 goals in Scarborough’s championship season and had the assist in double overtime on Lana Djuranovic’s winning goal in the state final against Brunswick on Saturday. This Saturday, she’ll turn 18.


“It’s definitely been an exciting week, first starting off winning the state title, which is something I’ve wanted to do my whole high school career, and then obviously signing for Bryant. That’s so exciting. I’ve been looking forward to that for so many months, since I committed,” said Mokriski, who announced her choice in March.

This season, Bryant had four players from Maine: senior goalkeeper Jessica Rinaldi of Scarborough, sophomore Carly Winn of Winslow, sophomore Hailey Koons of Standish (Bonny Eagle) and freshman Emily Supple of Cape Elizabeth. Head coach Andy Biggs grew up in Scarborough, went to high school at Cape Elizabeth and was the men’s soccer coach at the University of New England from 2006-10.

Bryant just completed its first season as a member of America East, which also includes Maine.

“I loved the coaches. I immediately connected with them,” Mokriski said. “I loved the girls on the team. I also liked the distance from home. Not too bad of a drive where my parents can come watch my games and I can come home if I need to.”

Mokriski said the Maine connections at Bryant – she knows Koons and used to practice with Supple while playing for Seacoast United’s Girls Academy team – “just added another factor why I feel like I would fit in at Bryant.”

Other southern Maine high school seniors who signed letters of intent Wednesday or will soon include:


• Abigail Armlin of York and Molly-Kate Dempsey of Wells will play Division I field hockey at New Hampshire. Dempsey signed Wednesday, while Armlin had to postpone her signing until Monday because of illness.

“I’ve been looking forward to it for years and working toward it for years,” Armlin said. “It’s just really rewarding to be at this moment. It’s still hard to believe that it’s real.”

Armlin was recruited as a back, while Dempsey was recruited as a forward.

“I played defense for my club team (Seacoast United) the majority of my career there,” Armlin said. “It was kind of fun to play the offensive player this year and in years past, but I really enjoy playing defense. That’s where I thrived at the club level.”

Seven more field hockey players are headed to Division II programs. Armlin’s teammate, Kristen Macauley, signed Wednesday to go to the University of New Haven, and Thornton Academy’s Zoey Pennell, a Miss Maine Field Hockey finalist, signed to play at Saint Anselm.

Upcoming signings include Morse’s Dylan Barr (Limestone) and Mt. Ararat’s Belle Hemond (Assumption) on Monday, Biddeford’s Cece Keller (Franklin Pierce) and Khianna Jackson (Assumption) on Tuesday, and Taylor Tory of Cheverus (Assumption) on Wednesday.


• Windham’s Abbey Thornton and Yarmouth’s Ava Feeley will sign on to play women’s soccer for northeast Division I schools. Thornton, the reigning SMAA Offensive Player of the Year, will sign Tuesday to play for Maine, while Feeley, who had a hat trick while leading the Clippers to a 3-2 victory in the Class B girls’ soccer final, will sign Monday with Boston College.

• Two players will be joining Division I baseball programs. Sanford’s T.J. Curley, a pitcher and outfielder, will sign Thursday to play at Mount St. Mary’s in Maryland, while Morse’s Gavin Baillargeon will sign to play at Maine.

Matt Connor of Cheverus plans to sign on Nov. 16 to play for Division II Assumption in Massachusetts.

• Gorham will have a pair of athletes signing on Nov. 17. Kaci Mollison, an outfielder for the softball team, will sign to play at St. Michael’s College in Vermont, and Bode Coleman, defenseman in boys’ lacrosse, will attend Southern New Hampshire University.

• Cape Elizabeth’s Nate Patterson will be heading to Bryant University to join its men’s lacrosse team.

• Thornton Academy’s Morgan Bolduc signed Wednesday to play women’s lacrosse at Assumption. Other southern Maine girls’ lacrosse players who plan to sign include Falmouth’s Sloane Ginevan, who will play for Notre Dame, and North Yarmouth Academy’s Vy Tran, who will sign Thursday with Stonehill.

• Marshwood’s Shelby Anderson will officially sign with Bryant’s track and field team later this month. Kennebunk’s Jet Francis signed Wednesday with Duquesne and will compete in triathlon.

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