Clarice Bell began playing golf just four and a half years ago.
She has proven to be a quick learner.
Five months after becoming the first Orono High School girl to ever win a state individual golf championship, she signed a National Letter of Intent to play at Division I Long Island University in New York beginning this fall.
She will be on an athletic scholarship that will be close to a full scholarship.
“I’m very excited,” said Bell, who is from Holden and spent her freshman season on the Bangor High boys team before transferring to Orono.
“Four years ago, I couldn’t see myself in this position. But I made progress every year and I could see things coming together,” said the 17-year-old.
She had a very positive conversation with LIU first-year head coach Lily Bartell and visited the school. It didn’t take her long to make up her mind.
“The campus was beautiful, the facilities are great. They have a great [indoor] golf facility,” she said. “The academic opportunity is also very, very good. They have what I am looking for, a good business program, and they value their student-athletes and help them balance their athletics and academics.”
She had considered attending some local schools “but once I visited LIU, I knew it was the place for me. And I was happy they offered me a scholarship.”
Bartell was equally impressed with Bell, who also plays tennis and basketball.
“She has an awesome personality so you can tell she is going to be a good teammate,” said Bartell. “She is a great athlete and I think it is beneficial for players to play more than one sport.”
The coach added that Bell asked her for some training recommendations for the summer.
“Yes. I did ask her that,” Bell said. “I want to go into the program and help the team win the [Northeast] Conference. That’s the main goal. I know I have to put a lot of work in.”
Bell shot an 18-over par 90 to win the state Class C girls individual title at the Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro in October and she had the second lowest score on the boys team, helping them to a seventh-place finish in the team competition.
She had finished third among the Class C girls the previous season.
Bell plans to play in a number of local tournaments this summer to gain experience and to focus on her mental game and putting.
The golf season is both fall and spring in college and Bell said she will be joining a team with a lot of upperclassmen.
“I will be able to learn from them and, hopefully, become a better player,” she said.