Wagner signs on with Warriors
Standout Kennett guard commits to Merrimack College
|AS HER MOTHER, Lynore, father, Ed, and sister, Jessie, look on, Allie Wagner signs her Letter of Intent to play basketball at Merrimack College. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)|
November 15, 2010CONWAY — Allie Wagner began her basketball career at the Conway Recreation Department, so it was only fitting that the department's gym was the spot chosen for her to announce the next step in her basketball journey.
Wagner, Kennett's star point guard, who helped guide the Eagles to the Class I championship last winter, signed her Letter of Intent to play at Merrimack College on Wednesday, Nov. 10, in a ceremony at the Conway Recreation Department.
"We feel honored that she picked Conway Rec to do her signing because she started here," said Recreation Director Johnny Eastman.
Eastman noted that Wagner began her career with the program in third grade and a year later became the first fourth grader to make the travel team.
A number of Wagner's coaches were in the group of people on hand to witness the signing, including her first coach, Robin Patnode, as well as Bobby Strong and Sue Powers.
"Ali has been so exciting to watch over the years," Powers said. "We're really proud of her. She's one of the most coachable kids I've ever had."
Eastman introduced Kennett varsity coach Peter Ames, who will be coaching Wagner for the fourth year this coming hoop season. Eastman noted that Ames was his coach in high school.
"I think Peter deserves a lot of credit for what he's done over the last 35 years for all the kids," Eastman said.
Ames was quick to praise his star guard, noting she had an impact from the moment she showed up as a freshman.
"Ali has had a great impact on our program since her freshman year," Ames said. "Her dedication helped turn us into a real quality basketball team."
Last year's run to the state championship was a magical ride for the Eagles, but Ames notes that it was Wagner's ability to bring out the best in her teammates that helped get them to the finals and eventually beat Lebanon.
"Good players step up at big times and she had a great tournament for us," Ames stated. "She had the maturity to hand the ball to others."
Ames also noted, that despite the Merrimack College sweatshirt Wagner was about to don, she was still an Eagle and had a title to defend.
"You can't go for at least another year," Ames said. "They're fortunate to have you, but we're going to keep you for another year."
Wagner's grandmother, Patty Wagner, noted there were three things that made her granddaughter stand out, pointing out that she was real, she was honorable and she was a leader.
Wagner and her parents, Lynore and Ed, along with her younger sister, Jessie, then took center stage and the Eagle senior signed the papers accepting her scholarship to play basketball at Merrimack College.
"It's very exciting," Ed Wagner said, recalling the many days and nights spent traveling to different camps and AAU tournaments around the state and New England. "We're very proud of her."
He also noted, that while his daughter certainly has some natural talent, he saw first hand the work that she puts into making herself better.
"She has a lot of natural talent, but people don't know how hard she works to be as good as she is," he said. "To see the hard work and the ultimate goal achieved, it's very satisfying as a parent and I'm sure it's very satisfying and exciting for Allie."
"We're relieved," said Lynore Wagner. "She can relax and have fun her senior year.
"It was worth it," the proud mother said of the long drives and hours spent in gyms around New England. "It was what she wanted and she did it."
For the newly-signed Warrior, there is still one thing left on the table to do as an Eagle.
"We'll take it one game at a time, but ultimately, a championship," she said when asked about her goals for this season's flock of Eagles. "We have the team to do it."
With fellow backcourt ace Melissa Frase recovering nicely from surgery and a solid freshman campaign under the belts of Lauren White and Lauren Kidder along the front line, the pieces do seem to be in place for Wagner and her teammates to make another run to the title.
And, with the choice of colleges behind her, the 1,000-point scorer can focus on that final high school season.
"It's a weight lifted off my shoulders," she said. "It feels good."
Wagner pointed out that Merrimack made the decision relatively easy for her.
"I got to spend a weekend with the team," she said. "I liked the way they played and I liked the way I fit in.
"They were welcoming," she added.
As for her goals for next season, Wagner hopes that she is able to earn some playing time and possibly some starts as a freshman as Merrimack College competes against other Northeast-10 schools.
However, before that starts, there's the business of getting back to work with the Eagles. The girls begin practice on Monday, Nov. 22, as they prepare to defend their title.