Ashley Robinson grew up attending soccer camps and watching women’s soccer games at the University of Maine.
Starting next fall, Bangor High School’s standout striker will be on the Orono campus virtually every day — as a Black Bear.
Robinson announced Thursday she has committed to join coach Scott Atherley’s team in 2012, initially as a nonscholarship player.
“I’m 20 minutes away, so when I was younger I went to the soccer camps for eight years and I watched them play the majority of their games growing up,” Robinson said. “I knew from a young age that I wanted to be part of that. I’m really excited about it.”
Atherley is prohibited by NCAA rules from commenting on nonscholarship players until they have begun attending classes.
Robinson was one of the catalysts for the Bangor High School team that won the school’s first girls soccer state championship this fall. She helped lead coach Joe Johnson’s Rams to an 18-0 record by scoring 28 goals, the most in Class A.
Robinson also posted 15 assists, including two in Bangor’s 4-0 victory over Scarborough in the title game. Her assist total was second only to teammate Grace Maclean, who racked up 24.
“Her first touch is really good and her ability to play either direction with her left or her right foot,” said Johnson, who explained he encouraged Robinson to shoot more. “She’s a step ahead of most players.”
Robinson was named the Maine Soccer Coaches Association Class A Girls Player of the Year and earned recognition as a National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-American.
She thinks her field vision and her unselfishness are among her strengths. However, she is aware she must continue to develop her skills.
“I think I need to work on making diagonal runs, that and being more vocal,” she said. “I know I”m going to be a small fish in a huge pond.”
Robinson said she chose UMaine over Division II Southern New Hampshire University. She is humbled to be the first Bangor High girls soccer player since Sarah Parcak (1997-98) to join a Division I program.
“It’s definitely a big honor and something I’m proud I achieved,” Robinson said. “In order to get this I worked really hard.”
Robinson has communicated often with UMaine freshman Jordan Pellerin of Waterville, a former Bangor nemesis.
“She’s been very helpful,” Robinson said. “She was the stud of her team, so to be able to play with another athlete like her is really exciting.”
Robinson looks forward to playing for Atherley, with whom she has worked at summer camps.
And she isn’t concerned about being a recruited walk-on — a player who is offered a roster spot without an athletic scholarship — since there will be an opportunity for her to earn scholarship money in the future.
“I was just excited about being able to play at a high level,” she said. “I’m very excited to learn more and become a better player and be pushed. I know that Division I is asking for a lot, but I feel like I’m ready for what it brings.”
Johnson said Robinson provides the complete package in terms of her play, her attitude and her commitment.
“(In regard to) her character and her sportsmanship, there was never an issue,” Johnson said. “She’s one of those kids who makes everyone around her better in many different ways.”
Robinson has made plans with Johnson to start doing some early-morning weight training at Bangor High to improve her strength and speed.
She also is competing on the indoor track team and this week is running the 4×800 and 4×200 relays and the open 400.
MMA spreads holiday cheer
Several teams at Maine Maritime Academy in Castine have been busy spreading some holiday cheer through community service projects.
Aided by athletic director Eric Sabean and their coaches, MMA student-athletes have worked to purchase Christmas gifts for children in the area.
The volleyball, softball and women’s basketball teams, coached by Craig Dagan and Katrina Dagan, bought Christmas presents for 11 children, ages 1-12, affiliated with the Emmaus Homeless Shelter in Ellsworth.
Coach Chris Murphy’s Mariner men’s basketball team raised money by selling candy bars to purchase winter hats, gloves and scarves for needy children in and around Castine.
MMA’s soccer teams, led by coach Travers Evans, have participated in the Salvation Army Angel Tree initiative, which helps children through age 17. The Mariners raised $250 to buy gifts for seven children.
“At this time of year it is always good to help those in need and to reflect on how lucky we all are,” Evans said.
Pearson earns coaching honor
Nicky Pearson of Bowdoin College in Brunswick has been named the regional coach of the year by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association.
As such, she is among six finalists for the 2011 Dita/NFHCA Division III National Coach of the Year Award, which will be announced Jan. 13, 2012 in Philadelphia.
Pearson directed the Polar Bears to a 19-1 record this fall as they won the New England Small College Athletic Conference championship and advanced to the NCAA Division III national semifinals.
Pearson’s Bowdoin teams boast a 232-47 all-time record (.831), which is the fifth best in Division III history. She has earned eight NESCAC Coach of the Year honors and has coached the Polar Bears to three national titles.