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Athletes commit to colleges during junior year

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Doerpinghaus puts up a formidable block against a Golden Bear hitter.

By: Monica Cai

Photos courtesy of Steve Sato

While most juniors are dreading the fast approaching onslaught of college applications, junior Allison Doerpinghaus can relax, knowing that her future is pretty much sealed. In April, Doerpinghaus committed to playing Division One volleyball at Eastern Washington University (EWU) in Cheney, Washington. Her commitment to the school is only verbal as of now, but come Nov. 9, the National Letter of Intent Day, Doerpinghaus’s college plans will be 100 percent finalized.

The recruiting process began about six months ago for Doerpinghaus. “Allison drove the recruiting process,” father Chris Doerpinghaus wrote in an email. “At the onset, I helped her understand the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rules and come up with an initial list of potential colleges. From there, she did the research to narrow her list of schools and began contacting coaches.”

The official NCAA rule for the recruitment of juniors bans coaches from approaching athletes and from communicating with them at tournaments. Thus, it was up to Doerpinghaus to make the first move.

Doerpinghaus has played on Gunn’s varsity volleyball team for two years and currently plays for Vision Volleyball Club’s 17-Blue team, a nationally-ranked travel team. The team competed in national qualifiers like Colorado Crossroads and Far Western’s in the spring, which provided college coaches the perfect opportunity to watch several players at once. By then, Doerpinghaus had already narrowed down her college list to a few colleges she was really interested in and in March, she made a few unofficial visits to her top three schools: University of Portland, South Dakota State University and EWU.

The day after Doerpinghaus’s visit to EWU, she called the head coach Miles Kydd, who gave her an official offer. Two weeks later, Doerpinghaus chose to turn down South Dakota State’s offer and instead Eastern Washington. “Upon initial review, EWU was a very good fit for Allison in that it has a solid education, is the right size and is located in a college town that is not far from a decent-sized city,” Chris Doerpinghaus said.

There were several other factors that played a role in Doerpinghaus’s decision. “EWU’s coaching staff is awesome and I really connected with the girls when I was there,” Allison Doerpinghaus said. “The school has a lot of school spirit [too]. It’s a college where everyone who goes there loves where they’re at. All of the girls there were talking about the pride they get from representing their school.”

Eastern Washington’s team currently has 14 players and Doerpinghaus was, thus far, the only recruit of her class. Still, playing time is not guaranteed so Doerpinghaus is considering red-shirting, in which the player suits up but doesn’t play, in order to keep her four years of eligibility. Position-wise, Doerpinghaus will continue to play as a middle blocker. “It’s going to be a lot of work, but it’s good work,” she said. “It is definitely going to be fun.”

Doerpinghaus’s decision to play in college is one she has been sure of since freshman year. “The first day of school in Mr. Weisman’s class we had to write down our biggest goal and playing in college was mine,” Doerpinghaus said. “I love the sport. It’s helped me grow emotionally because I found something I’m good at, and it has given me confidence and the motivation to work hard.”

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Athletes commit to colleges during junior year