Apparently, there is at least one advantage to having four different head coaches in four years – networking opportunities.
After enduring a coaching carousel and playing in relative obscurity at Ramsey High School during her prep career, Laura VanUytven’s dream of playing college volleyball seemed to be on life support, as she remained unsigned well into her final semester at RHS.
Fortunately, one of VanUytven’s four former high school coaches – Donovan coach Reaine Wilson – remembered the 5-foot-7 middle hitter when a player for his new team turned down a scholarship offer from Kankakee Community College.
‘I told Kankakee’s coach, ‘I know a girl that can play,” Wilson said.
Wilson’s recommendation proved to be a life-changer.
‘He said Laura was still looking, so he put us in touch,’ KCC coach Gary Sien said. ‘It was through that connection that we came to know about her.’
Wilson sent some stats and video of VanUytven Sien’s way, and the Cavaliers’ coach was impressed.
He quickly invited VanUytven and her mom, Christy, up for an official visit. Sien offered her a scholarship soon after. The recent RHS grad didn’t hesitate to accept, and she made it official a couple weeks ago by signing on the dotted line.
‘I’m very excited,’ said VanUytven of the unexpected development.
For good reason.
Volleyball has been a major part of VanUytven’s life since the fifth grade, as she started varsity all four years of her high school career and played club volleyball in Effingham two years.
‘I think that really helped her get signed,’ said Wilson of the latter.
VanUytven improved each year during her high school career, earning an Egyptian-Illini Conference honorable mention as a senior.
‘She was very good her senior year and a very good leader her junior year,’ Rams coach Becky Eddy said. ‘She has the drive and determination to do very well. She’s a team player and a good leader.’
Wilson emphatically agreed.
‘She’s one of those players that’ll do anything you ask her to do,’ Wilson said. ‘And I can’t remember one time that she missed an open gym.’
Eddy also commended VanUytven’s quickness and hitting in the front row.
‘She’s very quick, and is a very good hitter and front-row player,’ Eddy said.
Sien and Wilson feel VanUytven’s versatility will also serve her well at KCC.
‘I felt with her ability to adapt to new positions, she’d be a perfect fit for Kankakee,’ Wilson said.
VanUytven moved to outside hitter during her senior year, but could wind up playing just about anywhere on the floor in college.
‘She’ll definitely be able to fill a couple of positions,’ Sien said. ‘We always try to recruit good all-around players, and we feel she’s definitely that. She can play front row or back row.’
VanUytven will be joining a successful program that is coming off a 34-19 season.
‘We return five players and have a very good recruiting class,’ Sien said. ‘We look forward to having Laura as a part of a very good freshman class.’
VanUytven plans to major in physical therapy and possibly going into sports medicine.