Three female athletes have announced their commitment to play for the next level at Division One schools.
Senior Mary-Laci Motley is the most recent female commitment as she picked the University of Kentucky to be her future. Motley plays for her club team at Highland Football Club in the fall and then the school in the spring. As of last season, Motley was ranked 30th in North Carolina and 186th in the nation.
Junior Emma Binns was the first female of the year to finalize her college plans. Binns committed to the University of Tennessee as a volleyball player. Although volleyball has been dominant in her life since she was 9, academics were a top priority in Binns’ decision of where to go next.
“I knew Tennessee was right for me when I visited the college, I met the coaches and just really got along well with them. They have all the academics that I want to participate in the future,” Binns said, “I’m excited for the new experience and how hard it will push me, I like challenges.”
Despite recent feelings of comfort and excitement from Binns, getting to that stage wasn’t easy. According to Binns the recruiting process is very difficult. There’s a video part that has to be done; each game has to be recorded and the good parts picked out of the footage. A website is used to post all videos, college coaches can then see the videos and come watch in person.
Working around the NCAA regulations and having to reach out to contact colleges were an obstacle in Binns’ recruitment process. NCAA rules state that before an athlete’s junior year coaches are not allowed to call the athlete on the phone and cannot send any written recruiting information to the athlete. Athletes can make unofficial visits to the college campus and can talk with the coaches only while on campus.
Senior Mary-O Soule, the second female of the year to commit, shared similar difficulties and emotion as Binns.
“At the beginning of my junior year I got emails from UNC and then I reached out to the head coach and we just kept in touch from there. The recruitment process is not as fun as everyone thinks it is. It’s very stressful but also very exciting and it’s nice to see all your hard work pay off,” Soule said, “It was difficult keeping up the communication, always being ready to answer phone calls and respond.”
Soule has known she’s wanted to swim in college since she was 8 and that desire just got stronger when she started swimming competitively at the end of middle school. She is a member of the Asheville Swim Club and has had to drop school swimming because of scheduling conflicts.
Unlike Soule, Binns still plays for the school as well as for the her club national team at Xcel Volleyball Performance.
“This has definitely influenced my play here at school. I feel like I have higher expectations but it also makes it a little bit more fun because I know that it’s just the next step in the process. I am a lot more relaxed in my schoolwork but still continue to push myself,” Binns said.
According to head volleyball coach Michelle Wagaman now that there is a school that Binns is committed to and it’s no longer an invisible place, she has been able to be focused and motivated to continue to better herself to work for opportunity of playing time of Tennessee’s team. Wagaman believes Binns has had to continue to work hard at her skills and play well to be ready to play at that next level.
“It’s been wonderful watching her develop, she is an elite type of athlete that is very self-motivated. I think she is her biggest coach honestly; I think she is able to correct her mistakes or know what mistakes she has made. She has been coached by a lot of coaches on a lot of different teams so she has a lot of experience and it’s been nice to see her continually improve,” Wagaman said.