Jonathan Alder volleyball coach Taryn Fuller spoke for just a few minutes and then sat in the background with a huge smile on her face.
Fuller watched proudly as two of her seniors, middle hitter Karlee Reynolds and outside hitter Katie Smith, sat at tables inside the gymnasium at the high school Monday, Nov. 16, with their immediate families and signed National Letters of Intent to continue their playing careers at Division I universities.
Smith (5-7) inked a letter to play at Marshall University and Reynolds signed her name to play at Morehead State University. Fuller, who’s program is built around a family concept, was more than a little bit excited.
“It’s a proud mamma moment,” Fuller said. “I could just keep smiling, this is something they’ve both worked so hard for. Both of these girls knew that they wanted to play at the highest level possible and they now get that chance. It’s just a great moment, I’m so proud of them.”
Smith has dreamed of playing college volleyball since she was a little kid. Where exactly that would be became clearer in recent years as she fell in love with the surroundings at Marshall University, where her brother Nick is a member of the Thundering Herd football team.
“I am so lucky to get a chance to go off and do this, because there aren’t a lot of girls that get to go to the next level and play,” Smith said. “This has been my dream since I was six, it’s absolutely amazing.”
Smith said the reality of possibly playing in college really hit home when she started to get interest from college coaches.
“When coaches started being interested in me, that’s when I knew,” she said. “That was freshman year probably, that kind of got me excited. Marshall made the offer last summer and I made the commitment within a week. I loved the school and had been waiting for them to offer for the longest time.
“The atmosphere there is absolutely amazing, the campus is gorgeous and my brother goes there so I love that aspect. I love everyone on the team, I’ve been there so much I know all of them. The coaches are fabulous. I just love it there.”
While Smith had her dream school scoped out, Reynolds path to the D-I level had a few more bumps and turns. The standout had previously verballed to Ohio University. But a coaching change in Athens began the process of re-opening her recruitment.
Karlee said she too has dreamed of playing college volleyball, but finding the perfect place to do so took a little time.
“I just remember talking to my parents when I first started playing volleyball about how far I wanted to go,” she said. “I remember playing in club talking about wanting to play in college about wanting to be a Division I athlete.
“This is such a relief, to have that weight lifted off of my shoulders, I know where I’m going and I got there.”
She thought her college career would land her in Southeast Ohio at Ohio University, she pledged her commitment to the Bobcats and coach Ryan Theis. But the coach left to take another job leaving his recruiting class in limbo.
“I was first committed to OU but the coach went to Marquette, and I didn’t want to go that far to Wisconsin so I said I’ll stay with OU,” Reynolds said. “But the new coach (Deane Webb) came in and said he wanted to start over. I didn’t want to be a second option so I left.”
Reynolds said the coaches from Morehead State, located in Morehead, Kentucky, contacted her and she decided to give the school a look. What she found was a future home away from home.
“I got a letter from them, so I decided to check it out,” Reynolds. “It’s not that far away, it’s like three hours. I went there and just fell in love. It’s like a Kentucky Plain City. It’s a pretty small town, but I just felt really comfortable with the coaches and the girls on the team are like sisters. It was really family based.
“I had a drive limit, the furthest I wanted to be away was a six hour drive. So I could come home on a weekend or the family could come see me. I’m really excited about going to school down there.”
“They both have the competitive drive, the determination and the talent to make it at the next level,” Fuller said. “We had the reputation of being a diverse offense and these two were a big reason for it.”
Jonathan Alder was 29-1 this season and lost in the Division II state championship mach to Chardon Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin.
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU