FARINA — South Central's Keely Smith made things official Monday, when she signed a national letter of intent to attend Wabash Valley College in Mount Carmel this fall to play volleyball for Lady Warriors head coach Mark Colvin.
Smith said she has a good feeling about WVC and is excited to get started.
"I got a really good vibe when I was there," Smith said. "Mark is really nice and he made it sound like they'll have a good team."
Smith is also ready to meet her new teammates and get right to work, trying to get a program back on the map after Wabash Valley has not sponsored volleyball since 2003.
"I'm excited about meeting the other players and to start playing with them," Smith said. "I'm ready to take my skills to the next level and work on getting better."
Smith is just as excited for the offcourt reasons of college.
"I'm excited to be in a new atmosphere," Smith said. "I'm ready to meet new people, new friends and just experiencing college."
Colvin believes that Smith will be able to fit in, thanks to her desirable skill sets.
"I like her athleticism," Colvin said. "She's a lefty, and it's not too often you see that. She's impressed me with her strength and just her overall game."
"Every time I saw her play, she was impressive. I like her demeanor and I get a good vibe from her. She's captain material."
Colvin understands it can be tricky recruiting for a program that hasn't played a set in 15 years but is optimistic that, with the athletic tradition at WVC, that volleyball will soon join the ranks of its prestigious NJCAA Division I programs.
The Warriors and Lady Warriors are national powerhouses in women's basketball (16-1, ranked No. 9), baseball (preseason ranked No. 8) and softball (preseason ranked No. 17). Wabash Valley won the 2001 men's basketball national championship under the leadership of current Eastern Illinois head coach Jay Spoonhour. Entering his 35th season, WVC softball head coach Paul Schnarre is the national leader in all-time wins with more than 1,300 victories. Colvin has been an assistant coach for Schnarre the last 15 years.
"I just try and preach a new beginning," Colvin said. "We were successful before. I have a great assistant that spends a lot of time with the Purdue staff.
"We've also got some really good players coming in, and part of that is we offer some pretty nice scholarship packages."
While attending, Smith plans on majoring in education and would consider being a high school volleyball coach, a guidance counselor, athletic director or a physical education teacher.
Contact Zachary Rainey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 217-347-7151, ext. 123.