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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
An elite set of Needham High athletes made their futures official on Thursday as seven Rockets signed their National Letters of Intent to play Division I collegiate athletics.
A common denominator at Thursday’s ceremony, held in the Needham High gymnasium, was the number of dual-sport athletes in field hockey and girls lacrosse who committed to play at the next level.
Despite verbally committing to Northwestern last year, Boston Globe All-Scholastic recipient, All-American, and Bay State Conference All-Star Callie Hem opted to stay close to home and signed her NLI to play lacrosse at Harvard.
Maeve Barker, also a 2018 Bay State Conference All-Star, committed to play lacrosse at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, Lexi Schmalz signed her NLI to play lacrosse at Duke. Eileen Manning was the fourth and final Needham lacrosse/field hockey player to commit to play Division I lacrosse by signing her NLI to attend Marist.
Matt Smith will be joining Schmalz down in Durham, North Carolina over the next four years. The All-American and No. 28 overall tight end in the 2019 ESPN-300 recruiting class signed his NLI to play football at Duke, where he has been committed since last June.
Like Hem, Needham boys lacrosse star Jason Child also chose to stay close to home, signing his NLI to play at Boston University. A 2018 Globe and Herald All-Scholastic recipient, Child has tallied a ridiculous 165 goals and 88 assists throughout his first three years at Needham. The rising senior and reigning Bay State Conference MVP appears poised to crack the 200-goal and 100-assist marks this spring before heading to play on Comm Ave next fall.
Last, but certainly not least, Ana Keene signed her NLI to run track and cross-country at American University. The senior helped Needham to a ninth-place finish at the Eastern Mass Division I track and field championships last spring in the 4x800 relay. This fall, Keene took home two first-place finishes in the 5,000-meter and set the Needham High record in the event (19:03.5) at the Bob McIntyre Invitational on October 20.
For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter at @fLAno0.
Photos by Needham Athletics and Michael Flanagan