A natural fit on the basketball court because of her size, it was in volleyball that Kaitlyn Shearer found her niche.
“I’ve always had to work harder at volleyball than basketball,” said the 6-foot-1 Ellison middle blocker/post player. “But I haven’t always been strong in basketball, and I’ve seen my strength in volleyball.”
So did coaches at Louisiana-Monroe. And two weeks ago, both parties came to a mutual understanding and Shearer signed a letter of intent to play volleyball for the Warhawks on Nov. 20.
“I’m excited. It’s a lot of pressure off my shoulders,” Shearer said. “As a senior, you’re worried about college admission fees, college tuition, but I’m not too worried about that any more.”
On Wednesday, Shearer was able to celebrate the experience with family and friends during a mock signing ceremony inside the Ellison gymnasium.
A quiet and emotionally-steady person, Shearer could only smile as her mother, Donna Tennesen, cried and gently kissed her forehead and cheek during the ceremony.
“I’m just very proud of her, (pausing) words can’t even express how I feel right now,” said Tennesen, still caught up by the emotion.
Shearer spent much of her junior volleyball season recovering from a broken ankle, only returning during district play. But her impact was obvious as the Lady Eagles were on the cusp of their first playoffs appearance in several years, but lost in a play-in match with Temple.
“My whole ankle injury last year was pretty much my downfall,” Shearer said. “I had to relearn how to jump and everything. But I continued to work hard and it’s gotten me there.”
Louisiana-Monroe first caught notice of the towering middle blocker during last summer with the Killeen Juniors 17-and-under AAU volleyball team and continued to show interest well into her senior campaign.
Finishing with 333 kills as a senior, 167 in district play (3.6 kills per set) along with 94 blocks (2.57 blocks per set), it didn’t take long for the Warhawks to extend an offer.
At ULM, which finished 5-18 overall and a Sun Belt Conference-worst 1-13, Shearer could be expected to contribute right away as a freshman.
“The main thing about her is the love of the game, and the love of the game will take you to a different level, a different height,” Ellison coach De Gracia said.
When asked what it’d take for her to make an immediate impact with the Warhawks, Shearer answered with the quickness of a ball coming off her right hand: “Hard work.”
“I just love volleyball, that’s like my heart,” Shearer said. “Basketball hasn’t always clicked like that.”