Wahconah's Wells Commits to Attend University of Bridgeport
DALTON, Mass. -- Wahconah senior Abby Wells Monday took a big step toward the next phase of her athletic and academic careers.
Fortunately for her softball coach, it was not the final step.
“Above all else, we know we still have one more great year to watch her come here and continue to do great things,” Dustin Belcher said.
Belcher spoke during a brief ceremony in the school’s cafeteria to allow Wells to ink her National Letter of Intent to attend and play softball at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut.
Wells joins a collegiate program that last spring advanced to the NCAA Division II Regionals for the first time in 30 years while winning a program record 33 games for head coach Dawn Stearns.
It is a program that Wells has been eyeing for several years, ever since she attended softball clinics where the Bridgeport staff participated.
This summer, that interest took a more serious turn when Wells selected Bridgeport from among a small group of schools she was considering.
“I like to keep my options open, “ she said. “I talked to quite a few different schools here and there. And when it came down to it, I had three that were my top choices.
“They’re definitely a championship program. They’ve been at the top for a long time. I like the coach’s attitude. She was very supportive of me, and we went to watch a few of their games, and she was very supportive of the girls, too.
“I liked, just the atmosphere. And they’ve got a good academic program for me. It’s a good fit. We visited the campus a few times, and it’s a beautiful campus, and I just felt comfortable there.”
She said she plans to study criminal justice at Bridgeport, where she already knows she will have some company.
“I’ve talked to a few of the coaches and the girls who are already on the team,” she said. “A few of them are criminal justice majors, and it’s worked out for them. And the coach will set aside different times where we can work on our schedule. So I think it will be a good transition for me.”
Abby was joined at Monday’s signing ceremony by her parents, Tim and Kim, her coaches and several of her friends, who she singled out before putting pen to paper.
“Obviously, I wouldn’t be here without my parents,” she said. “They’ve put a lot of time and effort into me. Even the days when I didn’t want to work, they’re the reason that I did. My mom has basically taught me everything I know about pitching, and my dad has taught me a lot about hitting and fielding and work ethic in general. Thank you for teaching me to be who I am.
“And thank you to my friends who have been there through, basically, every step.”
Those steps have helped make Wells one of the stingiest pitchers and most feared hitters in Western Massachusetts.
“We here at Wahconah have had the great honor of having one of the elite softball programs in Berkshire County and Western Mass for many years,” Belcher said. “What that means is we’ve had some great players in our program -- far too many to name here today. But Abby Wells will forever be part of that group.
“She’s one of the great players we’ve had one and off the field. … What stands out most for me about Abby is the journey. What many people may not realize is that that journey started long before she walked in the doors here. A bat girl for our 2010 Western Mass and 2011 State Championship teams when her mother, Kim, was one of our assistant coaches.
“From that to watching her in the youth program where she was one of the outstanding players.”
And looking to the beyond the future, Belcher noted the inspiration that Wells can provide to the next generation of Wahconah athletes.
“What I will always remember when I think back after Abby graduates and moves on to the next chapter is her work ethic,” he said. “The fact that she accepted every challenge given to her, her dedication to the sport and her leadership in our program both vocally and by example.
“So it’s an exciting day for our softball program, and I think of that as K through 12.”