Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
WHEELERSBURG — For four years now, Wheelersburg’s volleyball and track programs have known exactly where to find leadership.
Lauren Jolly has been the epitome of that word, leading by example, always keeping a positive attitude and refusing to back down from any challenge thrown her way.
Jolly has now met her next challenge head on — playing two sports at the collegiate level.
Jolly made her commitment to the University of Rio Grande official earlier this week, where she’ll play volleyball and participate in the RedStorm’ track and field ranks.
“I really like the feel of a smaller school. Being from Wheelersburg, I basically know everyone and I love being close to everyone. It makes everything that much more special because you know who is behind you,” Jolly said. “I like all of the coaches and I’m excited to get to know them more and to form more of a connection, similar to what I have with my current coaches. Everyone is super friendly there and it is just a nice environment.”
The career at Wheelersburg that Jolly has pieced together speaks for itself.
She’s helped the volleyball team win four straight district titles, and a regional crown as a junior, while helping the school’s 4×100 and 4×200-meter relays qualify for the state track meet.
And, for good measure, she’s a starter on the school’s basketball team, a group that won a district championship in Jolly’s sophomore season.
“I’ve had a lot of support in my decision, especially with my family and [Wheelersburg volleyball] coach [Allen] Perry. They have both wanted me to research and learn more about different schools and would support my decision in whatever I did,” Jolly said. “My teammates always have my back and I can’t imagine playing with any other girls these last few years. We always are supportive of each other and I love each and everyone of them.”
Juggling two sports plus a workload at the college level can be a heavy task. But Jolly has a plan in place.
“I really like to stay busy and there isn’t a better way to do it then to play two sports in college and have school work on top of that,” Jolly said. “I’m excited to make many new friends and meet new people. Having new people to race against and just seeing what it’s like at that level excites me. The idea of being a part of a new family makes me eager to start working.”
Of course, staying busy is a part of Jolly’s skillset. She’s done so for quite some time now.
“Being a three-sport athlete at Wheelersburg, I’m used to managing my time,” Jolly said. “It will definitely be a challenge but I will never back down from a challenge. I am really excited for the next part of my life, especially since I am playing two of my favorite sports.”
Overall, Jolly amassed 1,701 assists in 275 sets on the volleyball court. She also logged 720 digs and 58 aces in her four-year career. And, on the track, her speed has been a constant advantage for the Pirates.
And she’s not done yet. She still has the rest of her senior basketball season to go through, as well as an entire track season this coming spring.
But she’s hoping she’s already done enough to be remembered at Wheelersburg. If her accomplishments speak anything for that, she won’t soon be forgotten by any measure.
“I hope Wheelersburg remembers me. I will definitely remember everything at Wheelersburg. I don’t think anyone actually realizes how much this school means to me,” Jolly said. “I hope my teammates remember me as an encourager and a positive leader. I hope my coaches remember me as a hard worker and someone that never gives up. I hope my teachers remember me as someone with a positive attitude. I have made the most amazing memories at Wheelersburg that I will never forget.”