Franklin’s Smith and Duchemin sign college letters of intent

Alyssa Smith signs Letter of Intent with Maryville College Feb. 17. Pictured (L-R) are Athletic Director Matt Bradley, Lori, Chuck, and Alyssa Smith and Maryville Track Tennis Coach, Doug Corbett.

Dan Finnerty – Sports Writer

In the past couple weeks, two Franklin High School (FHS) student athletes signed

Tennis coaches Andrea Bosio and Heather Bell, along with FHS Athletic Director Matt Bradley speak on behalf of Alyssa Smith at her signing Feb. 17.

their letters of intent (LOI) for upcoming college careers: Alyssa Smith, with Maryville University and Isabelle Duchemin, with Wofford College.

Tennis coaches Heather Bell and Andrea Bosio, along with Alyssa’s parents, Chuck and Lori Smith, were all on hand at the FHS gym on Feb. 17, along with Smith’s new coach, Doug Corbett, for the ceremonial sign-on with Maryville College. Based in Tennessee, Maryville is a Division III school with approximately 1,200 students.

Smith starred as the top-rated player at FHS for the past few years in tennis, also finishing fourth in the state, along with Kate Phillips for doubles in 2022. Her tennis schedule in college will include a short “prep” season next fall with the full, competitive season playing out in the spring of 2024.

Before she signed her LOI, Smith received numerous testimonies to her character as well as some comments from Athletic Director Matt Bradley, and her coaches. Bradley reminded the audience that Smith was part of the initial effort to start up a tennis program at FHS.

 “It was really cool what it (tennis program) went through, being the first ones to start the program in middle school and go all the way up … that’s awesome; you guys had a great season this year and I know your family is super excited. Coach [Corbett], you’re getting a really good one,” said Bradley.

Bell also lauded Smith’s attributes.

 “Alyssa has been number-one on the team and continues to be an example.” 

Bosio added, “Her leadership as number-one (tennis player) is second to her leadership as a person. That has definitely shaped the team as a whole.”

Coach Corbett pointed out that Maryville plays mostly Georgia schools, in addition to Piedmont University, Covenant College, LaGrange College, and the women-only school, Agnes Scott. Maryville used to be part of the USA South Conference but now calls the Collegiate Conference of the South home. Corbett also explained that moving the school’s athletic programs from a middling Division I conference to a level that can result in national level competition was the right choice. “Quite frankly, the funding’s not even better (at Division I) than it is at D-III,” he said.

Corbett has been the Maryville tennis head coach since May of 2021 and he coaches both men’s and women’s tennis. When asked how the school became interested in recruiting Smith, he said there are a couple databases that are monitored: Tennis Recruiting and NCSA (National Collegiate Scouting Association) and she was located via NCSA. Noting that Maryville likes to recruit regionally, he said, “Her level fits in with what we are looking for. I could tell she’s competitive and excited to be part of the program.”

Smith is the first women’s out-of-state tennis scholarship that Maryville has recruited.

On Feb. 22, FHS held a ceremony for senior track star Isabelle Duchemin and her

Isabelle Duchemin signed her Letter of Intent with Wofford College Feb. 22. Duchemin and family pose with Track coaches, Melissa Ward and Matt Harlfinger.

family as she signed her LOI to attend Wofford College, a private school located in Spartanburg, S.C. Duchemin said her decision was partly because FHS Track Coach Matt Harlfinger is a friend of Johnny Bomar, Wofford’s cross country and track and field head coach.

“He (Harlfinger) kind of put it into my head and at first I didn’t really have an idea of going there until I visited,” said Duchemin. “It was really pretty and I loved it.”

Wofford is part of the Division I Southern Conference, which is made up of nine schools, and counts Western Carolina University, East Tennessee State University, University of North Carolina Greensboro, and The Citadel among its members.

Introducing the Duchemin family for the ceremony, FHS Principal Noe said, “It’s been fantastic watching her compete, indoor and outdoor, … it’s been great to get to know her. I’m really excited for her opportunity; it’s a great school.”

Duchemin’s coaches also testified to her character and athletic prowess. 

“From being thrown into the 4×800 during (her) indoor freshman year to getting a school record to hurdling in the shadow of those before you, then breaking their school records, and becoming one of the most supportive teammates … I can’t wait to see what the rest of the season has in store for you,” said Melissa Ward, FHS head track coach.

“You are top-ten all time in 10 indoor track events and six outdoor events. You are going to walk out of here with at least five school records,” added Harlfinger.

Duchemin was also part of relay teams that broke indoor school records for 55-meter hurdles and the 4×200, winning the state championship and posting the 32nd fastest time in North Carolina’s history for the sport. The teams also broke the indoor record in the 4×400. On the outdoor track side, records were broken on the shuttle hurdle relay and 4×200.

“We recognized last year that we had a window of opportunity on the girls’ side to make a run at a state championship while you were here,” Harlfinger said to Duchemin at the signing.

While attending Wofford, Duchemin will concentrate on the heptathlon, which consists of seven events: the 100m hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200m sprint, long jump, javelin throw, and 800m run.