By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TROY — For many high school athletes making the transition to college, staying as close to home as possible is a top priority.
The opposite was true for Troy’s Lauren Schmitz.
“I knew I wanted to go kind of far from home,” the Trojan senior said. “I wanted to explore a little, explore the rest of the United States a bit.”
On Wednesday Schmitz, this year’s District 9 Division I Player of the Year who helped lead the Trojan volleyball team to an eighth straight division championship and a third straight district final appearance, signed her national letter of intent to attend Stony Brook University in New York and continue her volleyball career with the Seawolves.
“I’m really excited to go up there,” Schmitz said. “I love the school, its academics and athletics, and I get along with the coaches really well. Those are the main reasons I decided to go there, and I’m really excited.”
Stony Brook entered into play early in Schmitz’s decision process, and once she saw everything they had to offer, she just couldn’t pass it up.
“They looked at my recruiting profile, and I decided to see where the school was, how their athletics were and how their academics were, because at that point it was pretty broad — I didn’t really have any parameters set on what kind of school I wanted,” Schmitz said. “I knew I wanted to do something science-related, and they are a STEM school, a research school. And I knew I kind of wanted to go far from home.
“We don’t really travel that much as a family. We’ll go to Florida for spring break, but that’s about as far as I go. For college, it’s a whole new experience, and I wanted to broaden my horizons. So I committed in April. It was very nice was getting it over with before summer started so I could begin planning.”
Schmitz continues the Troy volleyball program’s trend in recent years of sending players to D-I schools at the next level. Lauren Freed, a 2016 graduate, is currently finishing her senior season at College of Charleston, 2017 graduate Katie DeMeo is a junior for West Virginia University and 2018 graduate Camryn Moeller is a sophomore for Ohio State University.
“It definitely helps when you see the success of our former players,” Troy coach Michelle Owen said. “The experience that Lauren Freed is having at College of Charleston and Katie DeMeo is having at West Virginia. Last year, Lauren went two rounds in the NCAA Tournament, Katie got to go on a trip to Hawaii this year, Camryn Moeller went to Brazil with Ohio State. When you see them having those experiences, you want that for all your kids that have that vision and that dream to play Division I volleyball. And when you couple that with a kid that has a work ethic like Lauren (Schmitz), it’s easy. It’s easy to help them achieve that goal.”
And once she started looking for a school, it didn’t take Schmitz long to find where she fit best.
“At the beginning, there were two (other schools): Purdue University Fort Wayne and IUPUI,” Schmitz said. “I went on visits to those schools and was going to schedule another visit after my Stony Brook visit, but I ended up getting offered and decided to take the offer.
“When I went on my official visit, I watched a practice with other recruits, and we got to hang out with the team after. And they’re just a great group of girls. We have similar personalities, so we get along well, which is nice. And the coaches are so chill and nice. They’re great people. Overall, it will be a family away from my family.”
And, according to Owen, Wednesday’s signing marked the natural next step in Schmitz’s journey.
“We have really high expectations for our kids, but we also really want to help our kids achieve their own goals, too. And having a kid like Lauren who has big goals and dreams, it’s easy to help her achieve those goals,” Owen said. “She’s known she wanted to play Division I since she was a kid, and she’s worked her butt off to make those dreams happen — and in the process, she helped us win an eighth straight division title, got herself to Player of the Year in the league and district. And all those things come with really hard work and sacrifice and time, and all of those things make her the athlete that she is.”
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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