By Raegan Stanley

Killeen Daily Herald

A lighthearted Leah Dantzker signed a national letter of intent in the Ellison library, on Thursday, to play volleyball at the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

"My hands are sweating," laughed Dantzker.

"It's okay, so are mine," said proud mom, Sheri Polite.

Dantzker, a libero – or defensive specialist of sorts – will become a Golden Lion with the start of the 2007 fall semester at the Division I-AA school. The Lions are members of the Southwestern Athletic Conference and offered Dantzker a partial scholarship.

The senior said she sent letters of interest to several schools, including Texas Southern and Sam Houston State, but was asked to travel to Pine Bluff, Ark., for a recruiting trip by head volleyball coach Kawanza Bibles.

Dantzker said playing time had been discussed but she didn't expect things to come easy.

"Like I was told, you have to work for what you get, but it's always kind of been like that," Dantzker said.

Assistant coach Kelly Hart said Dantzker's signing was the first one in her four years at Ellison.

Both Hart and head coach Kara Clay said it has been fun watching Dantzker progress as a player.

"She's grown as a leader," Hart said. "Not only has she been a leader on the court but she's been one off the court as well."

Clay agreed and said Dantzker has always been fun and she's very proud of the accomplishment.

Dantzker said she is most excited about getting the opportunity to play at the collegiate level but admitted she will "miss my mama."

"I'm very proud of her," Polite said. "I knew one day she would go ... we've been arguing since she started the 12th grade about where she was going to go.

"I would say Leah, why don't you go to CTC for two years and then go somewhere else,' and she said no, I'm not doing that' and I guess I should have just listened at that point in time and start resigning to the fact that she was going to go away. She got what she wanted. She turned her skills into just about a full ride."

Dantzker said she has a desire to study psychology while attending UAPB.

"I like to mess with people's heads," she said with a laugh. "Really though, I like to find out why people act like they do. I would like to just match the psychology up with criminal justice. I want to know why people kill."

Clay said she couldn't be more proud of Dantzker.

"It is such a big deal to play at the college level," Clay said. "Anytime you can play at that level and have someone pay for your education, it is a tremendous, tremendous thing."

Contact Raegan Stanley at or call (254)501-7564

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