Local Athletes Ink Collegiate Futures

Multiple Flathead Valley athletes have signed letters of intent to compete at the next level

By Micah Drew
Norah Schmidt of Whitefish High School soccer pictured in Kalispell on Nov. 27, 2023. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Five local athletes have recently signed National Letters of Intent (NLI) in the last month, committing to continue their sporting careers at the collegiate level.

In Whitefish, Norah Schmidt will be playing soccer for Gonzaga University in Spokane. As the Bulldogs’ starting goalie, Schmidt helped lead her team to the Class A championship in October, the program’s first title in 17 years.

The two-time all-state athlete told the Beacon she’d been aiming to compete for Gonzaga for years.

“It’s the school I’ve been aiming for,” Schmidt said earlier this year. This fall, the Gonzaga Bulldogs made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament. The team will be under new leadership next year as former Montana Griz assistant coach Katie Benz was recently announced as the new head coach.

Columbia Falls pitcher Maddie Moultray will also be competing at the collegiate level, signing with Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, an NAIA school in Indiana, in late November. Moultray helped the Wildkats to the program’s first state title in the spring, and had a .489 batting average during the state tournament.

Kalispell Glacier junior Ella Farrell pitches against Helena High on May 8. Gary Marshall, BMGphotos.com & 406mtsports.com

In Kalispell, another softball star, Glacier senior Ella Farrell, has signed to play for the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls. Farrell was the 2022-2023 Montana Softball Gatorade Player of the Year and helped the Wolfpack win the Class AA state title.

As a junior, Farrell batted .486, hit two grand slams and seven home runs, while dominating from the pitching mound with a winning record of 12-3, a 2.3 ERA, and 124 strikeouts, according to Wolfpack coach Abby Snipes.

“Ella is a great leader, on and off the diamond, as she leads by serving her teammates, by making them laugh, and by being unapologetically herself,” Snipes told the Beacon. “She is an elite softball player, an elite leader, and an elite human being.”

Across town, Flathead wrestler Anders Thompson decommitted from the University of Wyoming and signed with the University of Oklahoma last month. His performance at the Super 32 wrestling tournament in North Carolina in late October caught the eye of the Sooners.

“Anders is a late bloomer in the sport. Anders has so much passion and improvement left in him. He has improved by leaps and bounds the last few months and will continue to get better. He has by no means peaked yet,” said Braves head coach Jeff Thompson.

Colin Wade of Bigfork High School, Best of Prep athlete, spring 2022 on June 10, 2022. Hunter DÕAntuono and Sarah Mosquera | Flathead Beacon

Bigfork golfer Colin Wade, the 2023 Class B state champion who had a top-10 finish in Class A this fall, will be continuing his sporting career at Montana Tech. Wade will join top Montana talents including Glacier High School graduate Tyler Avery. The Frontier Conference school currently has an all-Montana roster.

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